Check in: Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

Bab Al Shams was around a few years before the Burj and long before Dubai Mall was even a thing people visited. Like Keith Richards, it is comparatively one of the oldest icons around, but remains one of the coolest. Especially if you’re on a mission to desert and chill.

Got a thing for desert escapes? You might also want to plan a trip to the Empty Quarter.

The first impression.
The whole resort is set out like a small Bedouin village, albeit with a few five-star upgrades. You really do get the feeling you’re in your own little enclave a lot further away that the hour it takes to travel from Dubai’s eponymous main city. Love!

Bab Al Shams. Exterior

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The neighbourhood.
Um… desert? There literally is nothing for miles bar sand dunes. Sure, it’s not the picture-perfect desert landscape of the Empty Quarter, but it will do for a weekend escape.

The room.
Spacious enough, decked out in Arabesque decor and with the cutest little patio that backs out onto the main pool area (though you’re pretty well hidden). Not sure when this hotel last got an upgrade, but we did notice a few cracks and fix-its needed in the bathroom and main living area, though, given the aesthetic of the hotel, it kinda works to its advantage.

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Around the hotel.
The hotel has eight restaurants and a rooftop bar. Most of the eateries are al fresco, so if you’re a newbie to the UAE and visiting in the height of summer, room service is probably a better idea. Al Hadheera restaurant remains the most popular, offering up a similar dining experience to the one you’d get on a desert safari: buffet meal; belly dancing; shisha coming out the wazoo. It’s nice, but if you want a little piece and quiet, head to the rooftop bar for sunset views over the desert, cocktails and chilled-out sounds supplied by the resident oud musician.

Al Sarab

The highlight.
The pool. Correction: three pools. The main one even has mini jacuzzi areas and enclaves to which you can swim and chill like a sea cow all. Freakin’. Day.

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The lowlight.
F&B prices are steep for the serving sizes. Drinks are around the same prices as in the city.

The final word.
Awesome little desert escape. Four words, whatever.

Oasis.Bab Al Shams

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Superior Room 2

The deets.
How much? Rooms from approx. US $319 a night including breakfast.
Wi-Fi? Yep, and it’s free.
Contact deets? +971 4 809 6100 or BAS.Info@meydanhotels.com
Good for? Couples, friends, solo travellers.