Dubai is synonymous with luxury, and its hotels are definitely a reflection of this. The city is famous for being home to the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, with personal butlers and a private reception on each floor, but it is also home to many other great hotels that exude an air of authentic luxury.
A Lush Desert Oasis
The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is embedded in the Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, one of the largest sand deserts in the world. Since it is quite isolated from the city, it retains a sense of mystery, whilst still bringing the mountain-high sand dunes to life with their many facilities and services. There are a variety of both fine and casual dining options, from elaborately authentic Middle Eastern-style restaurants to a private barbecue in the middle of the desert. As well as the usual facilities of a swimming pool and gym, the hotel also offers the chance for guests to enjoy a private cooking class, learning the secrets of Emirati cuisine from a professional chef.
A Glimpse into Bedouin Life
If you want to experience a true glimpse of Bedouin life, whilst still enjoying the luxuries of a world-class hotel, then the Al Maha Resort is the place for you. Located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, less than an hour from the city centre, the Al Maha showcases the culture and heritage of the Bedouins, whilst also offering guests the opportunity to enjoy a desert adventure. Since the hotel is within a national park, the first in the United Arab Emirates, they play a large part in conservation, meaning that you will be able to witness some desert wildlife. A field guide will take you on a tour of the desert, showing you the animals you want to see, and you can either go out on foot, in a 4×4, on horse back, or on a camel, giving you a taste of authentic Bedouin life. If touring the desert isn’t for you, you can also view herds of Arabian oryx and gazelles from the comfort of the hotel’s infinity pool, or even from the sun decks on each of the private villas.
An Intimate Desert Retreat
The Bab Al Shams Desert Resort is a short drive from the centre of Dubai, and is nestled amongst the magnificent sand dunes of the desert. The resort is built like an Arabic fort, in and around an oasis, and although, with just 113 rooms, it may be smaller than other luxury hotels, they still have the facilities of a larger resort. In addition to their 3 swimming pools, the resort also has 8 restaurants and bars, as well as a spa. Their signature restaurant is an open air dining extravaganza in the desert, resembling an Arabic market and giving you a taste of authentic Middle Eastern entertainmet with their roving henna artists, belly dancers, live music and falcon displays. Evenings can be spent at the rooftop bar, taking in the spectacular views of the desert whilst enjoying a cocktail and traditional sheesha pipes in a variety of flavors.
Dubai is a city that has a broad variety of attractions, from skiing to dune bashing to desert safaris. Most hotels will be able to organize activities for you, often at a reduced rate, so it is best to speak to the front desk about your plans before booking anything yourself.