Deciding to go on a holiday is easy, but deciding exactly where to go isn’t always as simple. Especially if you’re travelling with a partner, friends, or family, and everyone has a different idea of what kind of holiday they want. If one person wants a beach resort getaway, when you’d rather be in a big city, it can start to get difficult.
Dubai is an often overlooked destination for many holiday-goers, who might think there’s not too much more going for it than a giant shopping centre and skyscrapers. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however, because Dubai’s got it all. Desert resorts, beaches, a modern city (of course), culture, and even skiing (albeit inside a shopping centre).
During a recent trip to the UAE, I experienced one facet of Dubai’s diverse offerings – the desert – with a stay at the phenomenal Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa
When I heard the word ‘desert’, I expected it would be quite a trek to Bab Al Shams. It was a nice surprise then to hear it was only about a 45-minute drive from the airport, and around an hour from the city. This is great if you’re only in Dubai for a short time overall; you don’t have to waste too much time in transit between places.
Bab Al Shams is a huge resort, but unlike its luxury accommodation counterparts in the city, it sprawls over quite a bit of land instead of shooting skywards. The architecture is simply stunning, with walls of a homogeneous stone forming the different buildings and spaces throughout. Palm trees lord over the stone walls, and with everything set against the clear blue sky, it’s a nice reminder of the beautiful oasis you’re in.
At times the resort can feel like a bit of a labyrinth; I’m pretty sure the first few times I went to my room from the pool I walked from 5 different directions. It’s easy to get lost here, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because every path leads you to somewhere new in the resort you likely haven’t discovered yet.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa offers 115 rooms and suites. I stayed in one of the Superior Rooms, which had a beautiful view out to the garden and my own little courtyard. The room was spacious, with a king size bed that looked like it could fit about 10 people across it. Like the resort’s lobby, the room had a really nice Arabic interior design scheme, with beautifully crafted wooden furniture in deep shades and ornate detailing. The atmosphere was quite moody thanks to the low lighting, but this made for a nice respite from all the brightness and heat outside.
In addition to the private courtyard and massive bed, the room also features a Nespresso machine and complimentary coffee pods, and a large TV to chill out in front of. The bathroom was fully stocked with luxury amenities that could be enjoyed in the beautiful sunken stone tub.
As far as activities to keep you occupied at Bab Al Shams go, you’re covered for a range of experiences. First and foremost, the pool. The resort plays host to a huge infinity pool that looks out towards the desert. You could spend all day here floating around, being mesmerised by the endless plain. When you need to get out to dry off for a bit, seat yourself in one of the surrounding sun loungers. There are plenty to choose from. If you’re keen for a drink, there’s a bar conveniently nearby, and there’s also a swim-up bar if you’re content in the water.
For those who are after an adventure, booking a Jeep desert drive is a must. Hop into the open top 4 x 4 and set out with one of the resort’s experienced drivers; they’ll take you out to the sand dunes for one of the most exhilarating, near-heart attack-inducing rides of your life. When you’re not somehow defying gravity in the Jeep, scaling dunes, you get to drive past some truly stellar sites like the man-made Al Qudra Lake, which is home to a multitude of different bird species. Plus, my favourite, was seeing groups of Arabian oryx hanging out in the wild.
Speaking of animals, Bab Al Shams also offers thrilling sunset camel rides. They also have falcon shows at the resort, which is a huge thing in Dubai. Wind down after a day of desert adventures with some time at the luxurious Satori Spa.
The food offering at Bab Al Shams is impressively extensive. The resort boasts eight in-house restaurants that span Arabic, Italian, Indian cuisines and more. The breakfast and lunch buffets at Al Forsan are wild, with multiple rooms filled with an array of different foods to choose from. Hot tip – go light when filling up your plate, because it’s likely you’re going back for seconds and thirds. And yes, breakfast dessert is definitely a thing here.
Alcohol consumption is heavily restricted in Dubai. Hotels are one of the few places you’ll be able to get your hands on a drink, so stay at one that has a good selection. At Bab Al Shams, you’ll want to head to the Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge for a cocktail. This space has a nice decor with a warm atmosphere; the ideal spot to spend a balmy desert evening.
The Wrap-Up – Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa Review
A true luxury escape in the middle of the desert, the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is one example of why there’s far more to Dubai than meets the eye. With so much to do, see, and eat, a stay here is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
HEY GENTS stayed at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort as guests of Dubai Tourism.