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Staycation Spotlight: Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort

The luxury hotel dazzles with its dramatic dunes, dining and design. 

Whether you’re a resident or tourist in the UAE, at some point you’ll want – cue music – an Arabian night. Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort offers that and more, as the five-star hotel has recently been refurbished. Located 45 minutes from Dubai’s city centre, it offers an adventurous day or staycation.

Bab Al Shams opened in 2004 and is the longest-running desert hotel in the UAE. The word unique is overused to describe hotels, but due to its authentic Arabian aesthetic and location, it fits the term. In Arabic, the name means gateway to the sun, and here you are at one with nature, from feeling the sand between your toes to watching the spectacular sunsets. 

LW Design is behind the reinvention. Pooja Shah-Mulani, Partner and Design Director at the group, explained: “Our design narrative is a captivating tale of ‘The Lost Princess,’ where every element has been thoughtfully woven together to create a sanctuary of opulence and charm in the heart of the desert.” 

Bab Al Shams
Rooms and suites 

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort resembles an Arabian fort with crenellations, soaring walls and a maze-like layout. The hotel boasts 115 rooms and suites ranging from the Deluxe Desert View Rooms to the Deluxe Suite. All rooms boast neutral tones that reflect the desert. Brass touches complement the beige and browns, and the result is Bedouin chic.

We checked into the Deluxe Garden View Room – despite being a low-grade room, it had premium features. Spanning 37 square metres, it combined a traditional décor with mod-con features. The mashrabiya-inspired design included an ornate carpet, marble and mosaic bathroom tiles, and wooden window shutters and ceiling beams. Even the slippers were luxe – the predictable white was ditched in favour of green and gold.

The king-size bed was satisfyingly sink-into-able and had the softest sheets that would please even Goldilocks. The shower was one of the best we’ve experienced – it was spacious, strong and came with a stool. Plus, there were superb seating spots, from the window nook to the garden terrace, and Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands on the side to read. 

Bab Al Shams

Restaurants and bars 

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort is home to six restaurants and bars. Anwā is a rooftop bar with Pan Asian cuisine and sunset views; Lobby Lounge is a family-friendly spot with indoor and outdoor seating; and Ya Hala is a cigar lounge. 

Don’t leave without visiting Al Hadheerah, which is an open-air desert dining experience. The sprawling site includes camel rides, falconry, souqs, and live cooking stations. Ask for a table near the stage, so you can watch the traditional dancers and musicians. Zala is the all-day restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Specialising in Mediterranean cuisine, it also includes Eastern and Western delights. The sumptuous spreads and live stations are extensive without compromising on quality. 

The hotel is home to one of the best swimming pools in Dubai, due to its dramatic desert dune views. The Pool Bar serves drinks and light snacks, salads and sandwiches. While the food is perfect for the pool, the service can be slow. 

Bab Al Shams


In most hotels, spas are located with little or no light. Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort has a separate site – as it is a buggy ride away, it helps you to disconnect. The stunning space includes a spa, hammam, pool and gym, all with panoramic desert views. 

The palatial hammam made us feel like royalty. We booked the trained therapist Samira, and it was the best hammam experience we’ve had. She shared: “You will enjoy a traditional Moroccan hammam from a Moroccan woman”. Following the black soap, Kessa exfoliation and wash, we felt refreshed. 

Bab Al Shams

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort’s activities make the most of its location, and include hot air balloons, desert walks, horse riding and camelback trekking. With rolling dunes on its doorsteps, we went on a desert safari with the expert guide, Ishmail, and spotted Arabian oryx and gazelles. Plus, our inner Legolas was unleashed with archery in the sand.

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort: a one-of-a-kind Arabian night. 

GO: Visit for more information. 

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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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