To get away from the hubbub of the city, a stay at the inimitable Bab Al Shams Desert is to experience the finest Arabian opulence and hospitality. Nestled within the desert dunes, Bab Al Shams is the Middle East’s leading desert resort and just a 45-minute drive from Dubai and its airport. The calming concrete structure, simply decorated with Moroccan lamps and rugs, is a welcome change from the complexities of the city: oasis-like pools and Jacuzzis merge seamlessly into the desert landscape – leaving you to float in a dehydration-induced reverie.
Activities include archery, falconry, camel riding and desert drives, which can be followed by an afternoon in the award-winning Satori Spa.
Whether you are staying at Bab Al Shams or not, its famous Al Hadheerah restaurant is a must-visit, and very popular with Dubai’s businessmen and leading families. In comforting isolation just 45 minutes from the city, Al Hadheerah offers a truly authentic dining experience with traditional dishes such as lamb cooked for 7 hours in banana skin. Let your palate be utterly exposed to the unknown as you enter a souk bazaar area with 14 ‘live-cooking’ stations of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to choose from – and the advantage of being able to ask the chef for exactly what you want and watch him make it. Live entertainment includes a two-piece sitar band, belly dancing, and historical re-enactments of ancient desert battles featuring horses and camels while you dine al fresco under the warm Arabian sky.
If Arabian food isn’t your thing, Bab Al Sham’s Indian restaurant Masala is sure to please with indoor, outdoor and a special private dining room for Dubai’s royal family with deep brown walls to represent their love of horses. Otherwise, the restaurant is decorated in soft emerald green to represent celebration and gold to represent royalty, with small and snug dining areas divided by silk curtains and shisha lamps, and a soft furnished stage where sitar music is performed. The food here is nothing short of spectacular, focusing on deeply flavoured dishes hailing from the north of India, paired with exotically strong cocktails to match.