After staying with friends for a couple of days in Dubai, I was given a bit of a birthday surprise on our final day and driven half an hour out of the city into the depths of the desert. Passing camels, (which provoked an excitable screech to the horror of the taxi driver!) sandy dunes and acres of dusty landscape we arrived at the beautiful Bab Al Shams Resort and Spa.
Quiet, serene and charmingly traditional, we instantly felt at home. We were greeted with delicious fruit shots and a warm smile which was very welcome in the balmy 30 degree heat. Ushered through the hotel, past hidden coves, darkened lounge areas and an outside water oasis, it felt as though we’d stepped into a scene from Aladdin. Our room was dark and cool, with old tapestry’s, authentic trinkets and a moody scent of fruit and incense. But, if you think this is a glorified hut, think again, as every mod-con and luxury amenity is at your disposal-including a bathroom worthy of the spa itself.
With complimentary camel rides on arrival, we watched the few brave guests venture into the sands on their humpy steeds as the sun set over the dunes. Set in landscaped gardens, the swimming pools are surrounded by grand pillars, waterfalls and romantic fairy lights as the remainder of the sunbathers drunk up the last of the rays. Pre-dinner cocktails and snacks can be enjoyed on the roof-top veranda which turns into one of the hotel’s four restaurants (an Indian, Italian, International and Arabian).
Unfortunately the Italian restaurant was closed due to a private function so we immersed ourselves amongst the shisha’s and enjoyed a platter of seafood and swayed to the medley of traditional live music. The service is friendly, attentive, and slow, which is the Arabic way. But with a setting so breath-taking and beautiful, it’s easy to forget and realise you don’t have anywhere else to be.