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Luxury amidst the sands: The 13 best desert resorts in the UAE

We’ve travelled across 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.

Nestled amidst sun-drenched dunes, these desert resorts in the UAE offer an escape from the ordinary, allowing you to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the natural landscape. Whether you choose to dine under the starlit sky or experience camel rides and desert drives, adventure awaits.

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

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

GO: Visit www.marriott.com for reservations and more information.

private pools

Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Deep within Abu Dhabi’s desert landscape lies Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa. 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, guests can embark on an individual wellness journey or take a dip in the infinity-style pool while taking in the desert expanse.

GO: Visit www.marriott.com for reservations and more information.

Al Wathba

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort

With only 30 villas spread throughout the lush savannah on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Al Sahel invites guests to immerse themselves in the wilds of a true desert island. Wake up to the sight of wild gazelle, embark on desert drives in the wildlife sanctuary, or simply indulge in outdoor terrace living with a dip in the villa’s very own private pool.

GO: Visit www.anantara.com for reservations and more information.

Al Sahel Villa Resort

Bab Al Nojoum: Bateen Liwa Resort

Abu Dhabi’s new all-villa resort is waiting to be discovered in the heart of the Empty Quarter, close to the famous Moreeb Dune. The resort offers villas in three sizes: a 50 sqm one-bedroom villa suitable for three people, an 86 sqm two-bedroom villa that can accommodate five people, and a 102 sqm three-bedroom villa that can house a group of seven. Every accommodation category features a private plunge pool, deck loungers, a patio, and a fire pit with uninterrupted views of the sand dunes.

GO: Visit https://babalnojoum.com for reservations and more information. 

Bateen Liwa Resort

Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort

A spectacular desert paradise nestled among the dunes, the low-lying Bab Al Shams, A Rare Finds Desert Resort is a superb choice for dream desert getaways. This oasis of tranquillity combines rustic charm with top-tier hospitality to bring to life an authentic Arabian experience. 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.

GO: Visit www.babalshams.com for more information. 

Bab Al Shams

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 ornaments, leaving you with 1001 memories. Feel the attentive welcome evocative of an Emirati home, and enjoy the sight of sand dunes climbing to the horizon as you enjoy one of the most remarkable desert resorts in the UAE.

GO: Visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

Mysk Al Bader

Mysk Al Faya Retreat

Away from the city and deep into the heart of the desert, Mysk Al Faya Retreat offers the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Mlieha region which was recently nominated as 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 the sandy mountains play host to one of the region’s most unique boutique hotels: Mysk Al Faya Retreat. Take the footpath of desert dwellers and experience the culture of the Bedouin. The resort features only five rooms, all of which offer access to a saltwater pool and hands-free spa.

GO: Visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

glamping in the UAE

Mysk Kingfisher Retreat

A nature retreat offering a gateway to a world of conservation, Mysk Kingfisher Retreat is the perfect place to slow down. Set on the east coast of Sharjah, the beauty of the Indian Ocean 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 and privacy. 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: Visit myskhotels.com for reservations and more information.

Mysk Kingfisher desert resorts in the UAE

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 Desert Resort by Anantara rises from flame-coloured dunes like a mirage, inviting adventure and a sense of true luxury. Traverse the sands dune on camelback, dine under desert stars or unwind with hammam and desert rose rituals at this relaxing Abu Dhabi resort. With 140 rooms, 52 pool villas and 14 suites, guests are invited to admire endless dunes from their private oasis. 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: Visit www.anantara.com for reservations and more information.

Qasr Al Sarab

Telal Resort Al Ain

Telal Resort is a luxurious five-star resort set amidst an Arabian oasis in the Remah Desert on the outskirts of Al Ain, which was once home to nomadic Bedouin tribes. Spanning approximately 80 square kilometres of natural conservation area, the resort with its seven heritage rooms, three heritage suites and 14 tented-style 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, and traditional souk. There’s even a helipad.

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

Telal desert resorts in the UAE

Terra Solis Dubai

Terra Solis has been created by the same team behind the Belgian music festival, Tomorrowland, and is spread over 371,000 square meters in Al Yufra, Dubailand. Inspired by the land ‘terra’ and the stars ‘solis’, Terra Solis Dubai encompasses three types of accommodation but if you want to feel like a VIP, then book yourself into one of the six Orion pool lodges. The accommodations may be rustic, but the terrace is oh-so-Instagrammable, complete with sofas and a pretty private plunge pool that allows you to enjoy the thumping DJ beats and party vibe of the adjacent resort pool with a little bit of privacy.

GO: Visit https://terrasolisdubai.com for bookings and information.

things to do in January

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. The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is easily one of the most picturesque and memorable desert resorts in the UAE.

GO: Visit www.ritzcarlton.com for reservations and more information.

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah

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. Constructed in a traditional style, Tilal Liwa Hotel provides an elegant retreat for those seeking a unique desert experience and features 111 rooms and suites that provide indulgent living and intuitive services. The hotel also offers authentic dining destinations, complemented by exciting recreational activities, such as quad biking and camel riding. It is also a stone’s throw from the annual Al Dhafra Festival, home to the famous camel beauty pageant. 

GO: Visit www.danathotels.com for reservations and more information.

Eid al-Adha

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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