What the sand hides: the best hotels in the desert

What the sand hides: the best hotels in the desert


Today we may associate the names of Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Abu Dhabi with images of brands – new skyscrapers, gigantic shopping malls, and ultra-modern glass and steel buildings vying for the most extravagant record. However, the UAE is basically deserts and dunes. If we are willing to give them a chance, we will find a more authentic side of the region, which can be discovered from these spectacular hotels.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

Just 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport, this resort nevertheless seems totally removed from the world. Close to the Al Qudra lakes, part of the Al Marmoom desert reserve, it offers incredible sunsets between dunes in one of the places from where we will be most likely to see wild animals such as foxes and gazelles and up to 200 types of birds.

And if the sunset is beautiful, the sunrise is no less so, which can be enjoyed from its infinity pool and between the low walls that recreate the typical architecture of the desert.

Different restaurants prepare their proposals to live, such as Al Hadheerah, which becomes an authentic show with dramatizations, dancers, and horse and camel riders who recreate historical tales. Even the vastness of the night sky is lit up with fireworks to create a totally magical effect.

Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert

Just north of Dubai, the Ritz-Carlton in Ras Al Khaimah stands on a 500-hectare protected reserve to maximize contact with nature and indigenous culture in the Al Wadi Desert.

To get to know it in-depth, it has activities such as horseback riding or camel riding, private archery classes, and endless nights of stargazing.

Each of the villas, inspired by Bedouin architecture, features a private outdoor pool and stunning views of the dunes.

The Dubai City Tour Package desert also inspires an original wellness offer and a menu of treatments with diamond, spiced oils, and the spectacular ‘Rainforest’, a hydrothermal suite with 13 stations with different rooms and experiences ranging from the hammam to the steam room with salt. herbal sauna, foot spa, and igloo.

Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa

Owner of some of the world’s most impressive towers converted into a hotel, Jumeirah also manages one of the most modern resorts in the desert of the Arabian peninsula.

Designed in the style of a Bedouin village, it has different buildings that house 90 rooms and 13 private villas in a total of 22,000 m2. The earthy colors that decorate the rooms blend in with the surroundings, while the arabesques, fluffy rugs, and brass lamps recreate just the style we expect to find in such an absolutely impeccable accommodation.

Not to be missed are the guided horseback rides through the desert at sunrise and sunset, as well as some getaway on bikes with extra-thick tires to move between the dunes.


Several pools and restaurants, a yoga pavilion, and an exquisite spa complete the offer to disconnect from the madding crowd.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort

It is not the only hotel that Anantara offers in the desert – in fact, it has several properties in the area, three on Sir Bani Yas Island, a wildlife conservation area, but the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is a plus of excitement when incorporating the possibility of enjoying glamping into the extra-luxury offer.

Thus, for one or several nights, it is possible to get on a camel and reach a Bedouin-style camp hidden among the dunes of the Liwa desert.

There, in addition to resting in comfortable tents, archery and falconry are practiced, dinner is cooked on the grill on the sand and stargazing away from light pollution.

Arabian Nights Village

Exactly what it sounds like: the village of one thousand and one nights, the famous collection of tales from the Middle East. Behind an imposing dune, we are received by two towers that frame a town of small buildings topped by battlements in shades that are barely distinguishable from the surrounding landscape. 

Cozy paths adorned with fountains and palm trees add a note of freshness, while the aromas of spices and bakhoor – the local incense – stimulate the senses to enjoy a meal based on traditional Arab cuisine.

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Mike John

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