Where to stay in Dubai is always one of the first questions I receive from travelers visiting the UAE for the first time. There is an abundance of options across the Emirates but one thing I always recommend to do is to spend at least 1 night in one of the UAE’s gorgeous desert resorts. Staying in the desert and reconnecting with nature without compromising on luxury is an exceptional experience. There are quite a few options to choose from and each has its own unique value proposition, but for me, here are the top 3 best desert resorts in the UAE.
AL MAHA DESERT RESORT
Let’s start with my all-time favorite desert hotel … probably even my all-time favorite hotel, period. 45 drive from downtown Dubai, nested in a conservation area of the desert, Al Maha Desert Resort is the ideal weekend gateway to disconnect from city life and reconnect with nature.
All 42 villas in the Al Maha Desert resort are built to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent, combining the heritage of Arabia with true modern luxury. Whether you like to spend the day floating into your private pool or prefer to take part in the different activities included in your stay (such as falconry, archery, camel riding, etc.), there is something to please everyone at Al Maha Desert Resort.
Each villa has an unobstructed view of the desert and complete privacy from other guests. Protected wild gazelles roam around freely and will likely join you if you have lunch on your deck (they love to be fed some dates!). If you take part in one of the desert drives organized by the hotel, you will surely encounter some of the majestic (and endangered) wild onyx.
Booking in Al Maha comes on a full-board basis, so you can enjoy a delicious breakfast and 3 courses lunch, and dinner guilt-free. Before going to dinner, don’t miss the sundowner in the dunes. Whether you join by car, or on camelback, sipping some champagne in the middle of the desert while watching the sunset will for sure become a core memory.
There is no doubt for me that Al Maha Desert Resort is the best desert resorts in the UAE, and I make it a point to visit every year. You can find my full review of Al Maha Desert Resort here and the bet rates to book your stay here.
ANANTARA QASR AL SARAB DESERT RESORT
Qasr Al Sarab was on my bucket list of amazing desert hotels I wanted to stay at ever since I moved to Dubai. This stunning hotel is in the Liwa desert, one of the most beautiful desert areas in the UAE.
With 140 rooms, 14 suites, and 51 pool villas, Qasr Al Sarab is like an Arabian fortress rising from the golden dunes. The hotel organizes various activities, from camel treks to dune bashing and desert walks. There is also a kid’s club to occupy the little ones. If you just want to relax, the beautiful outdoor pool is the place to be!
Qasr Al Sarab has 3 restaurants, an Arabic one, a French-inspired grill restaurant, and a poolside Mediterranean restaurant.
In the evening, walk out of the hotels and into the impressive dunes to catch the sunset and a stunning view of the hotel, basking in the golden light.
Qars Al Sarab definitely feels more “large resort” than Al Maha Desert Resort, but it is still an absolute stunner of a hotel and one of the most beautiful desert resorts in the UAE. It is more than a 3h drive from Dubai, so consider staying at least 2 nights.
Find the best rates to stay at Qasr Al Sarab here
RITZ CARLTON RAK, Al WADI DESERT RESORT
The very first desert hotel I stayed at after arriving in Dubai!
Located in Ras Al Khaimah, 1h drive from Dubai, the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Resort is the ideal place to reconnect with nature. The 100 villas with private pools sit amid a 1,235-acre protected reserve, where Arabian Onyx roam freely.
Inspired by traditional Bedouin tents, each villa has elegant Arabic décors, beautiful woodwork, a private pool, and a large terrasse with a desert view.
There are 4 different restaurants on-site, and a lot of activities to occupy your days, such as archery, biking, and stargazing as well as an equestrian center.
The Ritz Carlton RAK Al Wadi desert is definitely one of the best desert resorts in the UAE, especially easy to access from Dubai. You can find my full review of the hoteli here and the best rates to book your stay here. And if you are more into seaside resorts, check out my full review of the Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach hotel.
Typically I would also include Bab Al Shams in this list of best desert resorts in the UAE, but the hotel is undergoing a major renovation and is set to reopen in early 2023. I will make sure to visit then and report, so stay tuned!
BEST TIME TO STAY IN THE UAE DESERT RESORTS
In terms of weather, the best time to stay in any of the UAE desert resorts is during winter, approximately from November to April. It should be warm and sunny during the day, the perfect weather to enjoy the pool and the desert activities. In the evening, the temperature drops majorly in the desert, so don’t forget to take some layers to warm up, especially if you want to dine outside, or do some night activities like stargazing. Because it is the best season to enjoy the UAE, it is also the time when the desert resorts will be the most expensive. Book ahead, or make good use of the hotel’s loyalty programs to reduce the cost of your stay (Al Maha & Ritz Carlton are part of Bonvoy for example). More details on the best time to visit Dubai are here.
THE BEST DESERT RESORTS IN THE UAE
If you are interested in staying in a beautiful desert resort in the UAE, you really can’t go wrong with any of these 3 hotels! I hope this article gave you some insights, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a message in the comment section below, to reach out by email or on Instagram..