Spacious rooms with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and DVD players
Huge bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, separate showers, and robes
Outdoor pool and whirlpool with poolside bar and kids' pool
Three restaurants and 24-hour room service
Free buffet breakfast
Full-service spa with a variety of services, including traditional hammam
Fitness center and three tennis courts
Kids' and Teens' Club with activities and games
Desert excursions including camel treks available
Free self-parking and free Wi-Fi throughout
Isolated desert location (pro for some)
Extremely hot in the summer
Located in the Liwa Desert about two hours outside of Abu Dhabi, the five-pearl Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is a peaceful escape located in the middle of sprawling red sand dunes. The classic Arabian architecture and upscale vibe gives it a royal feel, as do the spacious 206 rooms which feature flat-screen TVs and DVD players along with deep-soaking tubs and separate showers. There's a large outdoor pool surrounded by abundant lounge chairs and palm trees framed by desert views beyond. A fitness center, a full-service spa with a variety of treatments, and three restaurants are also on-site. The hotel can organize desert excursions, including camel treks. Note rooms are cheaper in the summer months, when the desert can get unbearably hot.
An Arabian-inspired desert escape perfect for romance and relaxation
The hotel's Arabian-inspired architecture makes it look like an oasis castle, and its beige exteriors blend seamlessly into the natural environment while still offering a feeling of luxury. Upon entering the lobby, there's no mistaking the cultural influences that permeate the decor: Think intricate wood etchings, wrought-iron sconces and chandeliers, long chaise-like velvet-covered seats, floor-level couches, and colorful throw rugs. The high-ceilinged staircases and hallways are further filled with authentic pots, vases, and other artifacts that add to the local flavor. Unsurprising in this arid outdoor climate, the grounds do not include a lot of greenery but there are a few shrubs and flowers along the pretty palm-tree lined pathways; fountains also add to the exterior beauty. And as the wind blows, the sand in the distance rearranges itself making for an ever-changing view.
In the middle of the Liwa Desert, two hours from downtown Abu Dhabi
Situated about two hours from Abu Dhabi in one of the largest sand deserts in the world -- known as the Empty Quarter or Rub’ al Khali (as it's called locally) -- this hotel doesn't offer much in terms of nearby attractions aside from sand. But the red dunes are spectacular. For those who do wish to venture out, the hotel is about an hour's drive from the Liwa Car Museum and the Moreeb Dune, and about an hour and 45 minutes from Ferrari World and the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Downtown Abu Dhabi is two hours away by car as is Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Spacious, clean, and earthy rooms with locally inspired decor and modern amenities
The 206 rooms at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara vary quite a bit, but all have similar Arabian decor mirroring the resort's overall look, including natural earth-toned walls and furnishings, etched-iron light fixtures, and tiled floors. All rooms have balconies or patios, some of which have amazing views of the sand dunes. Modern amenities include flat-screen TVs with DVD players, minibars, electric kettles with coffee/tea fixings, and free Wi-Fi. There's air-conditioning, but when the temperature soars, rooms can still feel a tad toasty. All rooms have spacious bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and separate rainfall showers; robes and hairdryers are available, too. Bathrooms feature bidets and double sinks. Room sizes vary from Deluxes to Suites to Three-Bedroom Pool Villas (with private lap pools). The Royal Pavilion Villas section has 10 rooms that share access to a semi-private gym, dining room, lounge, and terrace.
Pool, restaurants with free breakfast, spa, fitness center, and activities for all ages
The hotel's large outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by plentiful lounge chairs and palm trees, and though the sundeck can get a hot in the summer months, the water keeps guests cool. There is also a kids' pool and a whirlpool hot tub. A delightful poolside bar serves snacks and drinks during the day and turns into a trendy lounge in the evenings. The menu is dominated by Mediterranean dishes and cocktails; on Monday nights there's a barbecue poolside (except during the summer months). There are three more formal restaurants along with 24-hour room service. Al Waha -- or "The Oasis" -- serves buffet-style selections made at cooking stations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, featuring everything from Emirati pancakes to lamb chops. (A buffet breakfast is included in room rates.) Al Liwan, in the lobby, is open throughout the day for coffee and pastries in the morning and serves alcohol and savory items later in the day. Suhail is the most formal of the restaurants on the property. Open for dinner and drinks only, it's an upscale grill with a stunning rooftop terrace setting overlooking the dunes; however -- due to the heat -- the terrace closes in the summer.
There is a colorful Kids' Club for the younger set which includes a reading/activity room with supervision as well as a fabulous indoor playground that has a trampoline and jungle gym. This property also features a Teens' Club, which is a nice private hangout with a pool table, foosball, and a big flat-screen TV. For the adults, there's a luxurious library with reading material and a TV. Its high ceilings, interesting lanterns and artifacts, and desert views, make it a great place to relax with a book.
Further relaxing can be found in the on-site full-service Anantara Spa, with four luxurious couples treatment suites, a spa villa, a variety of pampering services, and a traditional Moroccan hammam (Turkish bath). The fitness center has cardio machines, circuit equipment, and free weights, and three floodlit tennis courts are also available. Excursions ranging from camel treks to falconry can also be booked through the hotel.
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