I must say, like my other stays with Anantara, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab had offered us an experience like no other. There is something oddly magical about being in the midst of nowhere, amidst miles and miles of golden sea that stretches as far as your eyes could see. Being stranded in the desert has always been a nightmare no thanks to thriller movies I grew up with but I would gladly stay in this magnificent resort for aeons. Away from responsibilities, away from the political madness back home, away from worldly distractions. Okay, maybe just during the winter months. But it is a wonderful thought nonetheless. This hotel had offered us the one thing I very much yearned for, an escapism.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert resort is a 90-minute drive from Abu Dhabi, about 3 hours from Dubai. From towering concretes, you’d find yourself driving into a vast of sandy nothingness. Driving there was a pleasant journey despite the thousands of speeding cameras (I am not exaggerating. You’ll find one in every few kilometers, even in the city, and even in the roads you would think only camels would cross) and hefty fine awaiting you should you exceed the speed limit which varies depending on the road, 80km, 120km, 160km.
After 3-hour road trip from Dubai, it took us way deep into the depths of the desert. We had drove the winding roads that skirted towering sand dunes that had led us all the way to the grandiose gates of our incredible Arabian escape. The dunes encompassing the hotel were not like any other we had seen before as they were the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass. From the security checkpoint, the security guard would only let you in if you have a booking and it would take about 10-15 minutes for you to reach the gate of the fortress. The view as you drive along the winding road that leads you all the way to the hotel’s façade was just incredibly breathtaking.
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is a sprawling Arabian fortress that blends perfectly into its surrounding landscape. It is a wonder how anyone could build such a grandeur in the midst of nowhere but whoever that came up with the idea was simply a genius. From the moment you step into the hotel, you would sense the fresh air of tranquility. Even though we had arrived in December, after checking in, you would feel that you are the only ones there. In the morning, you would be greeted with the fog desert from your balcony and the wintry cold and in the afternoon, I find it too hot still to do any sort of activity outside. However, bring a sweater or two as it does get cold at night.
Every inch of the hotel was simply photogenic. Standing at every point of the hotel would give you the wondrous golden sand and, in the evening, you would be granted with stupendous sunsets.
We had opted for the balcony room and I did not regret it even for a bit. Each room is luxuriously decorated in earthy tones and marbled floors and gold chandeliers. It gives you a feeling of being in an Arabian palace but also, with modern amenities that could guarantee you a pleasant stay. Opt for the balcony room or the terrace room for you to enjoy the view and mesmerising sunsets from the terrace.
Being in the midst of nowhere also means dining in the hotel is the only option you have and it’s fine. Qasr Al Sarab offers a number of dining options from enjoying pizzas by the poolside to a private dinner for just you and your loved one under the star and on the dunes and of course, the one I could not get over, Bedouin-style barbeque that offers you the most amazing experience dining under the stars, amidst the dunes and gives you a taste of Arabian culture – belly dancing, live music, insanely good food (Restaurant name : Al Falaj // cost : about 700 AED for 2 person). You will be served a great number of delicious side dishes that could easily fill you up, and then mouthwatering BBQs like kebabs and lamb koftas. It was a perfect end to the day.
In the morning, knowing that you would be greeted with an array of incredible dishes at the breakfast lounge is a great motivation for the day.
If you are looking to have a more relaxing stay, you could arrange a spa day at the hotel.
Otherwise, here are some of the activities you could do :
- Mountain biking
- Camel trekking
- Horse riding
- Tours of the liwa desert
- Fat biking
- Sand boarding and sand sledding
- Desert walks
- Desert yoga
Most of the activities are not free however except for sand boarding and desert walks.
Overall, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab was an amazing and memorable stay for us and staying there for almost a week was barely enough. I could just stare at the wonder all day and it was the “reset” i very much needed.