Seeing a different side to Dubai – Bab al Shams Desert Resort 

Seeing a different side to Dubai – Bab al Shams Desert Resort 

Dubai, I have found on the whole is a marmite kind of place – you either love it or you hate it! It’s a pretty showy place and every time I have been I have stayed on the palm! So this time we wanted something a little different so we booked ourselves into the Bab al Shams desert resort and spa! Meaning gateway to the sun, we were hoping for something special from our stay at the desert resort – Bab al Shams!

One of the things I like when staying in a luxury hotel is getting a real sense of place. Personal touches and things unique to the place. To be honest, the hotels I’ve stayed in Dubai previously have been lacking in this! There a lot of chains (nothing wrong with that) but on the inside can feel like anywhere else in the world. My favourite hotels always have something unique about them and this was my hope for Bab al Shams and it didn’t disappoint! All the luxury and 5* treatment that you expect f a great middle eastern hotel coupled with a taste of tradition and heritage!

We flew into Dubai maktoum airport which is much closer to the resort than dxb but offers only regional flights at the minute but was perfect for us! From here it was about a 40-50 minute drive. When we arrived we were greeted with a lovely Arabian welcome and some fresh lemon mint and baby e was given a soft camel which she became very attached to!

The desert resort

After a slight confusion over booking details we were shown to our room. The resort is laid out like an Arabian fort. The buildings are low rise and you walk down winding corridors and alleys with quaint ‘historic’ objects littering the walkways! On the way there are many areas to sit and unwind such as reflecting pools and nighttime fire pits!

Water feature

Fire pit

The room was stunning. What I loved is that it had a true sense of place. Something that other Dubai hotels can lack. I was particularly fond of the bathroom.

The bath

Luxurious bathroom

 

The only downside to the traditional layout was that it could be that  a little dark. However, I think the ambience it created more than make up for it!

Sitting area

As we arrived late in the evening we went straight out to dinner in one of the five onsite restaurants. Night one we tried masala the Indian offer and were very impressed with the quality. There was a nice mix of traditional and more contemporary dishes and a live band which baby e enjoyed dancing the night away too. Of all the restaurants we tried, this was our favourite.

Masala

On other nights we tried the Italian, Le Dune and Arabic, Al Forsan, which are nice and have lovely views across the desert especially for sundowners. There is also an Arabic buffet restaurant, Al Hadheerah, that has a live show and has a firework display at weekends. Since wandermust daddy was ill and the baby has an earliesh bedtime I didn’t get to do this but is something I’d love to return and do!

As we went half board we had our breakfast at the buffet restaurant. I am not always a buffet fan but was really impressed with the breakfast, especially the live cooking stations. Due to illness, I mostly experienced the resort on my own, I was concerned about the mix of baby and buffet while solo parenting but the staff were so helpful. I had a great time even if wandermust  daddy was shut away in the hotel room for most of the trip! At least we had a nice bed!

The bed

The whole resort was perfectly set up for families of any size and age. Baby E enjoyed the heated pool and there was plenty of space around the three pool areas.

The pool

Your room rate also includes some desert activities such as camel riding, nature walks, fat bikes and baby E’s favourite falcons! She has now become slightly obsessed with trying to pet birds!

Our fearless traveler

I must admit that even I enjoyed the falconry. The blend of afternoon activities I think makes Bab al shams perfect for the young and he young at heart!

Falconry at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

The resort, while well connected by road is set amongst the sand dunes! You could organise trips out through the hotel but we just enjoyed sitting and taking in the scenery! The baby particularly enjoyed the sand between her toes!


Overall experience at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

We had a fantastic time and would thoroughly recommend anyone who wants to experience a more traditional Dubai scene to try visiting a desert resort.

Top tip – the resort is much busier on a Friday than in the week due to a large brunch and pool day passes so try and stay mid week if you can 

Have you ever stayed in a desert resort? I’d love to know what you thought! 


 

48 Comments

  1. March 28, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Wow.. I’ve stayed in plenty of beach resorts but never in a desert resort. Just the idea alone fascinates me. Camel riding and falconry… how cool is that! I’m sure my younger boy would love receiving an cuddly camel upon arrival. He has a tendency to get attached to soft toys. #CityTripping
    Bumble Bee Mum recently posted…Yosakoi Soran Festival (Sapporo, Hokkaido)My Profile

    • March 28, 2017 / 8:20 am

      It was such a unique experience and one I would recommend for anyone visiting Dubai

  2. March 28, 2017 / 11:55 am

    I haven’t stayed in a desert resort! BUT it’s something I would really like to do. My husband has been reluctant in the past due to distance and heat. Good to see it is alright with young children though. I love the idea and would certainly be a different experience for a return visit to Dubai. Thanks for linking #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…City Tripping #69My Profile

    • March 28, 2017 / 12:02 pm

      Yes I think people often see a very monotone version of the Middle East so always nice to see something different

    • March 28, 2017 / 2:44 pm

      Aww thank you! I don’t normally post close up pics of her but this was too cute not to share

  3. March 28, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    I love your perfect Marmite description of Dubai, it fits so well! I’ve only been to Dubai on overnight stop overs so I don’t have a proper opinion, except to say those stop overs have made me want to see more.

    • March 29, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      I would definitely recommend as something different to big chain hotels

  4. March 30, 2017 / 4:09 am

    Love the photo at the end of your baby playing in the sand! I have never been to a desert resort like this, but I would love to after reading your post. It looks like a perfect way to really get away from it all and just soak in the sun and open air. #citytripping
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted…Why You Should Support the ArtsMy Profile

    • March 30, 2017 / 8:58 am

      Thank you jo! She was very taken with the falcon but surprisingly not bothered with the camels

  5. March 30, 2017 / 9:23 am

    I totally agree that local and individual touches really make a hotel – I’m not a fan of the big chains which are identical the world over either. And what a fantastic photo of your daughter with the falcon. #farawayfiles
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…3 family road trip ideas – my wishlistMy Profile

  6. March 30, 2017 / 10:13 am

    Cool idea and what an atmospheric hotel. We will likely stop off in Dubai on the way back to Australia at some point so book marking for later. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles PS I like the new blog look!
    Katy recently posted…Faraway Files #24My Profile

    • March 30, 2017 / 10:16 am

      Thank you – you decide something when your a new to blogging and then realise you need to completely change everything lol! It’s a great option for a stopover! But qatars great too!

  7. March 30, 2017 / 10:21 am

    Never been to a desert resort but Bab-al-shams looks super unique. Love when where you stay reflects the local flavor. Thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  8. March 30, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I really like the sound of this resort. You’re right – it has a much more traditional feel than the glitz of most of the Dubai hotels I’ve seen. We’d love to stay in a hotel in the desert. This one looks spectacular. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) recently posted…Faraway Files #24My Profile

    • March 30, 2017 / 2:23 pm

      It is beautiful and very different to the rest of Dubai

    • March 31, 2017 / 5:40 am

      Everything actually felt quite intimate which made it feel unlike other resorts

  9. March 31, 2017 / 10:03 am

    We actually stayed at Bab al Shams years ago when I think it had different owners than it does today. Still, such a fabulous compound out amid the desert. We have some spectacular pictures from the visit, including the camel ride with Dad and my daughter holding a falcon on her arm, with a wide smile on her face.

    I remember one evening sitting up on a balcony drinking and eating as the sun went down. Stunning, with that real sense of place you mention.

    Now you’ve made me want to return! #farawayfiles
    Jen from Jenography.net recently posted…Review: Fujifilm X-A3 for travel & family pics #adMy Profile

  10. April 5, 2017 / 2:26 pm

    I”ve also visited here pre kids and it is such a little oasis from the hustle and bustle that’s now Dubai. I thoroughly enjoyed it the feeling of being in the desert but with the luxurious comforts. I think my girls would love the opportunity to hold a falcon. Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips

    • April 5, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      My little one chases birds now as she thinks all birds are for petting hehe! I always like to hear when other people have stayed at the same resort and had similar experiences 😃

  11. April 10, 2017 / 7:33 am

    Linking this up to my things to do in the UAE post! Can’t believe there’s a resort here the Globetrotters haven’t tried yet ; )

    • April 10, 2017 / 7:39 am

      Thank you 😃 – I think your children are the perfect age to enjoy it! Surprised there is anywhere left you haven’t been! 😉

  12. April 10, 2017 / 8:29 am

    This looks really interesting – it looks much more up our street than the big corporate hotels in Dubai I’ve more normally seen reveiewed. I’ve passed through the airport many times – it would be good to stop off one time!
    Baby Loves Travel recently posted…A Day in the Life of a Ski Season with BabyMy Profile

    • April 10, 2017 / 8:52 am

      Yes it is a big difference to chain hotels and nice to see something different

  13. April 10, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    How beautiful!! I have never been to Dubai, or really any desert setting, but I am smitten with that resort! It’s luxurious without being gaudy, which is something I really appreciate.

  14. April 10, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    We’ve stayed in one of those characterless hotels when we were in Dubai (the room was more luxurious than we were used to!), but this sounds like so much more fun! What a great place. I’m not sure we could afford it, but I’d love to stay there next time we’re in Dubai! #MondayEscapes
    Lisa – FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com recently posted…Tulip fields in Holland, when and where?My Profile

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