Hotel Review: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

Hotel Review: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

Reconnect with nature, indulge in luxury and embrace wellness; we guarantee after a stay here you'll leave the Empty Quarter with full cup
26 May 24
قصرَ السراب منتجع الصحراء، فخامة التراث

Between the kilometre-high sand dunes, on the blurred, sandy edges of the Empty Quarter, where the fringes of Abu Dhabi meets the outline of Saudi Arabia, lies an oasis of indulgent escape - Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort.

Having never visited before, and looking for a close-by yet entirely private, luxury escape for a weekend of celebrating some good news, we checked in to the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort for a weekend treat - a two-night stay in a Luxury Private Villa.

Here are our thoughts...

The Resort

In Short: Expect a luxury resort in the middle of the desert, where Arabesque design and modern hospitality meet and blend seamlessly

An Anantara owned property, the Qasr Al Sarab is an example of the international hospitality brand's renowned prowess for crafting luxurious escapes that are inspired by the local culture and environment, seamlessly blending contemporary elegance and top-class amenities with the resort's historic aesthetic and desert location.

The resort's architecture echoes the traditional mudbrick forts of the region, offering guests a chance to experience the spirit of Arabian hospitality amidst breathtaking desert scenery.

Translating to "Palace of the Mirage," the Qasr Al Sarab reflects the desert's captivating charm wholeheartedly embraces its Arabesque roots in design and decor throughout the resort, and in welcoming guests with cold towels, fresh fruit juice and a sweet, caramel date.

The Qasr Al Sarab covers off the must-have bases for most if not all visitors, with two pools - one family friendly and one adults only, a selection of restaurants and bar areas, a healthy wellness schedule and an indulgent spa.

The Location

Tucked away in the depths of the Empty Quarter desert, approximately a two hour drive from Abu Dhabi or a three hour drive from Dubai, the Qasr Al Sarab is definitely a hidden gem worth travelling for. Ideal for those with a car or access to a car, the trip could be quite costly in a taxi, however the hotel will arrange transport should it be needed.

Within the resort, particularly for those staying in the villas, hotel golf carts will serve as your means of transportation to and from the hotel, pool areas and restaurants. Most definitely a novelty, and loved by the children staying at the resort, it is a simple, quick and effective way to travel around the expansive resort.

The Rooms

In Short: Sweeping desert views are coupled with the in-room luxury and quality expected of an Anantara property

With six different room types including suites and luxury villas, there are plenty of options depending on your budget. A total of 140 rooms and 14 suites are located in the main hotel building, a two storey mudbrick-style qasr. Whilst 53 villas with private pools are dotted cross the resorts 19 acres of desert land, and we were lucky enough to stay in a one bedroom pool villa.

Complete with a dining table and chairs to the right and a small kitchenette (with a mini bar) to the left, our one bedroom private villa opened up into a comfortably sized living area, and to a large bedroom area and the outdoor patio (with excellent shading options) and our plunge pool allowed for sweeping views of the desert.

The bathroom is large, bright and the marbled floors make the floor cool to the touch beneath your feet, a welcome escape from the heat and humidity of the desert. Featuring both a shower and a full bath, and a separated bathroom, complemented by his-and-hers sinks (which is always a treat for any other apartment dwellers like us) and a full suite of the typical hotel bathroom amenities.

Painted and decorated in various shades of warm sandy colours, the villa is also beautifully furnished with with traditional Arabesque and Bedouin-inspired decor.

Aside from some minor cosmetic fixes to be done during low season (such as chipped paint) and the standard hotel-stayers gripe of lack of bedside plug sockets, the room is undeniably comfortable, beautifully decorated and lofty in terms of size. Despite its size, it should be said that the villa feels cosy and somewhere you wouldn't mind spending a few hours reading a book, and enjoying the privacy of your own patio and pool.

The Guests & The Vibe

In Short: Everyone is chilled and living their very own desert dream

Welcome to your desert haven of relaxation and escape, even when at capacity the property never truly feels full. The hotel's main areas, restaurants and its amenities are built to accommodate a flurry of guests comfortably, making it the ideal escape for couples or those searching for a relaxed and serene stay.

We met couples who had travelled from the UK, Dubai and Georgia, and even a family who had flown in from China, each had heard about the Qasr Al Sarab via word of mouth and the recommendations of close friends.

The Restaurants

In Short: You won't be stuck for something to eat - or a dining experience

On our first night we dined in the resort's upscale Suhail, a grill restaurant in the main hotel building, with large and marbled cuts of meat on display in a fridge and an open kitchen area. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant wasn't full but had a number of tables seated, we chose to sit indoors and ate a delicious sharing steak.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, choose to have your breakfast in the Al Waha restaurants overlooking the adults pool and the desert dunes, here the vast breakfast buffet serves a selection of Middle Eastern, Asian and western dishes. Or, if you're feeling fancy have your breakfast served in a floating basket and indulge as you dip in your private pool.

For lunch, the pool side Ghadeer restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes with passion and generous portions; from light yet hearty salads, sharing plates to larger meals.

If you're celebrating something special, or want to truly experience dining in the desert, the team at the Qasr Al Sarab can arrange a private, dining experience like no other thought their Dining by Design concept. Sit in your own private cabana, with a couch

The Amenities

In Short: Relax in the serenity of picture perfect desert surrounds

The large sweeping family pool has an array of sun loungers dotted around it, however, it is the adults only pool on the bottom level of the main hotel building that truly steals the show. Utterly Instagrammable, this pool is one that you will lay beside all day, resisting the urge to continuously snap pictures of the views from the infinity edged pool.

Capitalising on the selection of wellness experiences available on the daily schedule at the Wellness Centre, we chose something different to try, sound healing. An instructor-led sound healing session involves embracing a meditative state through a series of gentle yoga poses and breathing techniques, whilst you listen to the soothing sounds and hums of from the bowls, in the comfort of a cooled room.

Prices from Dhs1000 p/n (SAR 1020)

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