Abu DhabiDubaiHotelsRas Al KhaimahSharjah

The ten best desert resorts in the UAE

We’ve travelled the seven Emirates and experienced rolling sand dunes, camel rides and dining under the stars in search of the very best desert resorts in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi

Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi:

Deep within Abu Dhabi’s desert landscape lies Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi, an intimate retreat imbued with natural beauty and serene tranquillity. Inspired by traditional bedouin dwellings, the boutique resort’s 103 guest rooms and villas feature timeless local details, traditional artwork, and Arabesque accessories, alongside a range of dining destinations showcasing the dunes to panoramic perfection. At Al Mabeet guests can dine on traditional Emirati dishes in an understated, atmospheric desert setting, or there’s Italian restaurant Terra Secca, an elegant trattoria serving Italian classics from a busy open kitchen. With a distinct Spa as the hallmark of the hotel experience, guests can rebalance their equilibrium and embark on an individual wellness journey or take a dip in the infinity-style pool while taking in the desert expanse.

GO: Call (0)2 204 4444 or visit www.marriott.com for reservations and more information.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara:

Located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and deep within the world’s largest sand desert known as the Empty Quarter, Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara rises from flame-coloured dunes like a mirage, inviting adventure and a sense of true luxury. Traverse the Rub’ Al Khali by camelback, dine under desert skies or unwind with hammam and desert rose rituals at this relaxing Abu Dhabi resort. With 140 rooms, 14 suites and 52 pool villas, guests are invited to admire endless dunes from their private oasis, with lush garden terraces facing arid beauty and elevated sunsets from private balconies. Whether you’re interested in camel rides or desert drives, Qasr Al Sarab offers an exciting base from which to explore the mysteries of the desert and experience Arabian warmth and hospitality.

GO: Call (0)2 886 2088 or visit www.anantara.com for reservations and more information.

Telal Resort Al Ain:

Telal Resort is luxurious five-star desert resort set amidst the Arabian oasis on the outskirts of Al Ain city in the vast landscape of Remah Desert which was once home to the nomadic Bedouin tribes of the Emirates. Spanning approximately 80 square kilometres of natural conservation area, the resort with its seven heritage rooms, three heritage suites and 14 tented-style private villas, is set against a backdrop of unmatched serenity and beauty. This unique destination recreates the traditions of the Emirati experience with its Desertology Spa, sunken pool, traditional souk. There’s even a helipad!

GO: Visit www.telalresort.ae for reservations and more information.

Tilal Liwa Hotel:

A distinctive destination, Tilal Liwa Hotel brings the best of Arabic traditions and culture to life. The hotel is located on the edge of the Rub Al Khali, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, amid rolling sand dunes and an unspoiled desert landscape. Built in a traditional style, Tilal Liwa offers guests an elegant retreat for those seeking a unique desert experience and the true spirit of Arabia. The hotel features 111 rooms and suites that provide indulgent living and intuitive services. The hotel also features authentic dining destinations, complemented by exciting recreational activities. This desert oasis presents a unique avenue to natural beauty and solitude. It is also a stone’s throw from the annual Al Dhafra Festival, a showcase of Bedouin lifestyle and home to the famous camel beauty pageant. 

GO: Call (0)2 894 6111 or visit www,danathotels.com for reservations and more information.


Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai:

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, Dubai is a private, guest-only oasis nestled among the lush palm groves, emerald canopies and iconic sand dunes of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The hotel offers secluded tranquillity and iconic vistas of the sweeping plains and Hajar Mountain massif. Take an unforgettable horse ride, camel trek, or nature walk. Join a signature desert safari or practice the distinguished arts of archery and falconry. This five-star tented-hotel boasts private swimming pools with majestic dune and mountain views and 42 suites combine discreet refinement with authentic regional antiques, local artefacts and thoughtful nuances.

GO: Call (0)4 832 9900 or visit www.marriott.com for reservations and more information.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa:

A spectacular desert paradise nestled among the dunes, the low-lying Bab Al Shams resort is an excellent choice for dream desert getaways. This oasis of tranquillity combines rustic charm with top-tier hospitality and luxury to bring to life an authentic desert experience. Within, a world of sumptuous cuisine, nature walks, camel rides and desert adventures awaits. From temperature-controlled pools to archery ranges and falconry exhibitions, Bab Al Shams offers all the elements required to create memorable stays. Outside, the resort’s desert ecosystem hosts gazelles, birds, geckos and a cornucopia of wildlife. Perfectly capturing the essence of Middle Eastern traditions, the rooms and suites at Bab Al Shams showcase a charming balance between authenticity and modern comforts. There’s even an infinity-style swimming pool replete with jacuzzi jets, with the desert landscape starting from the edge of the pool and extending outwards in hues of yellow, brown and orange.

GO: Call (0)4 809 6100 or visit babalshams.com for reservations and more information.


Ras Al Khaimah

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert:

Just north of Dubai, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert invites guests to connect with nature and culture amid the beauty of a 1,235-acre protected reserve. The resort’s Experience Concierge can arrange a desert trek on camel or horseback, a private archery lesson or an evening of stargazing. Better yet, the luxury villas, inspired by Bedouin architecture, feature private outdoor pools and breathtaking desert views. The luxury resort brings together pampering services with opportunities to discover the land and the people, creating an unforgettable experience for the entire family.

Go: Call (0)7 206 7777 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com for reservations and more information.


Mysk Al Badayer Retreat:

A picturesque desert stop set against the sweeping dunes of central Sharjah. At Mysk Al Badayer Retreat, you can stay in a traditional Arabian castle decorated with comfort and a touch of modernity. All rooms are adorned with Arabian culture and ornaments, leaving you with 1001 memories to reminisce. Feel the attentive welcome evocative of an Emirati home. Enjoy the site of the sun hanging lazily over you with the sight of sand dunes climbing to the horizon and enjoy a getaway where you will carry home authentic cultural riches.

GO: Call (0)68012020 or visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

Mysk Al Faya Retreat:

Away from the city noise and deep into the heart of the desert, Mysk Al Faya Retreat offers guests the opportunity to explore the true beauty of the Mlieha region which was recently nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mleiha is home to several significant sites, including Bronze Age tombs, historical caves and pre-Islamic forts. The foothills of sandy mountains play host to one of the region’s most unique hotels, and Mysk Al Faya Retreat rises out of the enchanting dunes that surround it, offering a boutique hotel experience. Take the footpath of desert dwellers and experience the culture and meaning of being an authentic nomad with the desert dwellers known as the Bedouin. The resort features only five rooms, all of which offer access to a saltwater pool and hands-free spa.

Go: Call (0)6 801 2020 or visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

Mysk Kingfisher Retreat:

A nature retreat offering a gateway to a unique world of conservation, and the only one of its kind in the UAE, Mysk Kingfisher Retreat is the perfect place to slow down. Set on the east coast of Sharjah, the beauty of the pristine beach and Indian Ocean waters is matched perfectly by refined interiors of soft beiges, blues and desert browns that dress the resort. Arrive on a private boat that will take you to your private island with a modern tent and its own private pool designed to provide comfort, privacy and amazing views of the Indian Ocean. With exclusive access to a pristine ecosystem, Mysk Kingfisher Retreat offers you a gateway to a unique world of conservation and culture and one that embraces Arabian heritage.

Go: Call (0)6 801 2020 or visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publications, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things, food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the UAE and the KIngdom of Saudia Arabia.

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