As summer comes to the UAE and many expats flock back home, prices of hotels throughout the Emirates tend to reduce significantly, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. So for those of you staying behind – why not snap up a quick bargain, and relax on one of our ten recommended stay-cations:
10. Fujairah Rotana – nestled between the majestic Hajar Mountains and the beautiful Indian Ocean, lies this relaxing retreat. Located on Al Aqah beach approximately 50km from the city of Fujairah – this is a true beach resort, with secluded beaches, a spa, and all the luxuries associated with the Rotana Brand. The hotel boasts 245 rooms which have either mountian or ocean views and a pool area perfect for children with its large water slide. For adults, there is a swim up bar and a tennis court. Our only negative observation was that the breakfast buffet is a little lacking, but overall this is a great place to spend the weekend especially if combined with a trip to the Masafi Friday Market.
Reason for making the top ten: The only hotel on the list located on the Indian Ocean, and the private beach here is beautifully sandy and secluded.
9. Fairmont Ajman – this hotel is only a few months old, but made such a great impression during our recent stay that we had to include it in the list. The staff really go out of their way to ensure that a pleasant stay is had by all who visit, and nothing is too much trouble. The food is of a very high standard and there are lots of dining options, including the lovely cafe with its decedent chandeliers. The beach is beautiful and we saw stingrays during our swim,and the pool area is exceptional with a great shaded area for toddlers and babies. The hotel boasts 252 modern rooms, all with ocean views and large balconies and the rooms are extremely comfortable. The only downside with it being a new hotel is that not all of the facilities are open yet, including the shisha bar (which looks truly awesome!)
Reason for making the top ten: The staff really do go out of their way to make sure you have a exceptional stay at this hotel.
8. Tilal Liwa – located in the Rub Al Khali desert (also know as the empty quarter) lies this relaxing desert retreat. The ambiance here is something out of the one thousand and one Arabain nights, with its desert setting and beautiful decor of Arabic lamps, large pots and camel accessories adorning the walls. All rooms look out onto the desert dunes or the pool area and are of a very good size and standard. Other than chilling out the hotel offers many activities such as quad biking, camel riding, sand boarding or a trip to a camel farm. Make sure you take a dip in the infinity pool – it really does make you feel as you are swimming in the sand!
Reason for making the top ten: The ability to walk out of your room and straight into the desert dunes, which is a truly unique experience, especially at night when you can view the stars.
7. The Cove Rotana – this private resort in Ras Al Khaimah feels unlike anywhere else in the UAE. With its hilltop setting and cobbled streets, it feels more like a Mediterranean Island than Arabia, and this is definitely part of its charm.The hotel contains a number of accommodation options from guest rooms (some of which are a little on the small side) to villas with private pools. The complex is large and there are lots of steps, so if this is all too much for you, it is possible to take golf carts to the beach/pool/restaurants. The staff are brilliant, and there are a number of dining options. In terms of recreation, there are two swimming pools and a 600m private beach. Our only disappointment was that there is no free WiFi offered in the rooms (this is often the case in Rotana hotels).
Reason for making the top ten: The seclusion of the resort and the excellent service provided.
6. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr – located between the bridges just off Abu Dhabi Island, lies this beautifully modern hotel. Aimed predominantly at business customers it should certainly not be overlooked. The pool is one of the biggest in the city and has specific sections for children. On the weekend, things begin to liven up and it becomes more like a pool party with happy hour offers and shisha in the pool – it is a great place to hang out. The beach area is great with stunning views to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The 369 guest rooms are extremely comfortable with all the home comforts you could require and the dining scene contains a steak house, chocolate gallery, brilliant cocktail bar, as well as the many options available at the adjacent Souk Qaryat Al Beri.
Reason for making the top ten: An all-in-one destination with a number of great drinking/dining options. We love the party atmosphere in the pool area at weekends.
5. Hyatt Capital Gate – certified as the ‘world’s furthest leaning man-made tower’ at an 18° incline, this hotel is not only an architectural marvel, but a great place to spend a couple of days. The height of the hotel is what makes it special, with the views from the rooms stretching across Au Dhabi island all the way to the corniche. Our favourite elements of the hotel were the rooftop pool area, which though small, really does feel sophisticated (especially at sunset). The fine dining in the 18° restaurant is one of our favourite dining experiences in the capital. Our only negative experience was that the staff were a little slow at times.
Reason for making the top ten: The architecture, amazing views, and overall contemporary feel of the hotel.
4. Marjan Island – another new addition to the UAE hotel scene is the gorgeous Marjan Island resort and spa. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is a dry hotel, and it really is a true five star hotel and you will feel like royalty if you stay here. The hotel is located on a manmade peninsula which means that the beaches are great, the water is warm and shallow with no waves – though you do need to take a short walk/trip on a golf buggy to get there from the hotel The hotel itself is very grand and the rooms ooze Arabian charm and hospitality – all rooms face the pool area and have large balconies for relaxing. The hotel boasts a number of restaurants, and a seafront promenade with gift shop, shisha lounge and more. It is also an excellent place for water sports including jet-skiing and the new craze of fly-boarding.
Reason for making the top ten: Feeling well and truly pampered, a great place to chill-out, and an excellent beach.
3. Atlantis – what can we say about Atlantis that hasn’t already been said? This is probably one the most well-known hotels in the UAE and it has so many activities and attractions on offer, that you are unlikely to spend any time in the room! From Aquaventure (in our opinion the best water-park in the UAE), to the lost chambers aquarium, or the opportunity to swim with dolphins at dolphin bay – Atlantis has it all… and more! With an abundance or restaurants, bars, two swimming pools, and children play areas – the resort is huge! We recommend you stay in the Imperial Club rooms which include free breakfast, as well as food and beverages in the imperial club lounges – this really is a great value option. Our only dissapointment is that due to the large size of the resort it lacks the personal touch, and once checked in you are pretty much left to fend for yourself. The rooms themselves are large and aquatic themed, try and get a palm views as these are stunning with views across the palm to Dubai Marina – which looks truly spectacular at night.
Reason for making the top ten: A destination that truly has it all, an iconic stay, a meal at Saffron!
2. Yas Viceroy – the only hotel in the world to span a F1 track. The futuristic design makes the Viceroy look more like a spaceship than a hotel and is probably our favourite place to stay in the capital. The staff take really good care of you and offer a personal service, for example whoever checks you in, then takes you from reception to your room and gives you a tour. The rooms, like the exterior, are very modern and futuristic with everything being electronically controlled and concealed, giving an overall slick appearance. The rooms look out over the formula one track and the hotel contains some great dining options – if you are visiting on a Friday make sure you brunch at Origins it is one of the best (and cheapest) in the city.
Reason for making the top ten: The personal touch you experience as a guest, the futuristic design, and the great rooftop pool.
1. Anantara Desert Islands – located on a spit of land, wedged between a flamingo filled lake and the Arabian Gulf, this 64 room hotel is half colonial Africa and half traditionally Arabic designed… and it is amazing! With huge hanging lamps and canopies draped from the high ceilings, it really is something that needs to be seen to be believed. The staff are all exceptionally friendly and will provide you with a tour of the hotel before taking you to your room. All of the hotel rooms have beautiful sea views, looking out over the swimming pool to the sea. The hotel itself is a beautiful place to explore and the hallways that lead to the rooms are punctuated with beautiful lounge areas for relaxing, which are reminiscent of a safari lodge (preparing you for what is to come with the activities on offer). There is much to explore within the hotel grounds from a beautiful spa, to a free kids club, teens club and brilliantly equipped gym facing the ocean. Though, best of all is the beach which is completely natural and very deserted – we were the only ones on the beach at the time of our visit and had a great time looking at the amazing shells and strolling amongst the free roaming gazelles, who appeared to love playing in the sand. The beach is backed by he pool area which is stunning, with an infinity pool that gives the illusion that you are swimming in the sea, as well as an abundance of sun-loungers, cabanas and day beds.
Reason for making the top ten: The definition of relaxing retreat, and a place to get away from it all. Exploring Sir Bani Yas Island and enjoying a wildlife safari.
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.