11 Great Places For A Weekend Away
11 Great Places For A Weekend Away

11 Great Places For A Weekend Away

Looking to book a special getaway, a restorative break or just a quick escape? From Bedouin-inspired boltholes to glamping experiences and luxury desert resorts, here are 11 of the best destinations within easy reach of Dubai...
By Rob Chilton
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Image: BAB AL NOJOUM

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Banyan Tree AlUla
Banyan Tree AlUla

Al Badayer Retreat

BEST FOR: Chilling Out

If Dubai is a nightclub, Oman is the chill-out room. Check in to Al Badayer Retreat and you could jump in a jeep for a desert safari, catch a falconry display, or sign up for dune bashing, quad biking and a horse ride. Alternatively, you could climb into a fluffy bath robe and say maasalaamah to the world for the weekend. This well-appointed desert camp in the southern part of Sharjah sits inside a traditional Arabian fort with an attractive central square covered by a tent and dotted with date palm trees. Accommodation options include a lodge in the main fort area or, more romantically, 10 deluxe tents on the edge of the desert.

Visit SharjahCollection.ae

Banyan Tree AlUla

BEST FOR: An Ancient Experience

AlUla is the ancient desert city at the centre of Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning tourism scene. It has a labyrinthine Old Town and a calendar of art exhibitions, music festivals and cultural activities. Its standout resort is Banyan Tree AlUla, which has been integrated into the surrounding dunes and sandstone canyons of the remote Ashar Valley. Sophisticated villas showcase authentic Nabataean design and offer fire pits, plunge pools, and terraces shaded by sweeping canvas canopies. From there, you can explore the archaeological sites of AlUla, book a bespoke dining experience, or take a dip in a magnificent infinity pool wedged between two cliffs. 

Visit BanyanTreeAlUla.com

Mysk Al Badayer Retreat
Mysk Al Badayer Retreat

Bab Al Nojoum – Bateen Liwa Resort

BEST FOR: A Desert Retreat

Camel trekking, meditation, sand boarding, archery, stargazing, tea ritual, yoga, kite flying, full-moon desert drumming… The list goes on and on at Bab Al Nojoum – Bateen Liwa Resort, an eco-retreat in Abu Dhabi’s golden Liwa desert. With its fire pits, slow sunsets and understated interior design, it has an Arabic vibe that’s secluded and serene. The food scene is strong – there are cookery classes, picnic hampers or a private BBQ at your villa as well as the resort’s main 28 Degrees restaurant.

Visit BabAlNojoum.com

Southern Dunes

BEST FOR: Adventure & Inner Peace

Having established a fine reputation for barefoot luxury around the world, Six Senses now turns its focus to Saudi Arabia. Set to open before the year is out, Southern Dunes is a tucked-away resort on the Red Sea coastline where close attention has been paid to integrating the hotel into the natural landscape. Throughout the rooms, suites and pool villas you’ll find artfully chosen fabrics, materials and colours that echo the sand dunes as well as the crafts practised by the region’s ancient civilisations. A spa, a cooking school and fishing tours will only immerse you deeper in the local desert culture.

Visit SixSenses.com

Anantara

BEST FOR: An Island Getaway

Dubai’s World Islands have seen a lot of promises of luxury hotel openings go unfulfilled. But finally, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas has landed with this luxurious property on the South American continent of the ambitious island project. Lush, green and relaxed, its Dubai resort is just 4km off the UAE coastline and has 70 suites plus beach and pool villas as well as a kids club, spa, gym, bar and two restaurants serving up Mediterranean and Arabic dishes. Turn your head back during the 15-minute boat ride to the resort and take a snap of Dubai’s iconic skyline before stepping away from it all. 

Visit Anantara.com

The Chedi Al Bait
The Chedi Al Bait

Sonara Desert Camp

BEST FOR: Sleeping Under The Stars

Luxury tents that blend harmoniously with the surrounding sand dunes are the highlight of a stay at Sonara Desert Camp on the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which is a 40-minute drive from the city. Enjoy the tranquillity of desert life at The Nest – 14 tents designed by award-winning architect Gianni Ranaulo. An array of modern and traditional activities help guests immerse themselves in Bedouin heritage. Look up and learn about the stars with a trained astronomer on a sky safari; take a camel or a horse for a ride; go up in a hot air balloon; take to the dunes on a nature walk, or speed things up by dune bashing in a buggy. The beauty of this sustainable resort is the solace it offers, but if you crave some night-time activity, the main Sonara Camp nearby offers falcon shows, buffet dinners, live music and after-dark movie screenings. 

Visit Nara.ae

JA Hatta Fort Hotel Terra Cabins

BEST FOR: A Mountain Escape

Recently rebranded as the Highlands of Dubai, Hatta in the Hajar Mountains has been a hidden gem until now. Rugged scenery, a slew of outdoor activities and a giant lake created by Hatta Dam have drawn outdoorsy visitors to this spot 90 minutes east of Dubai. Now the JA Hatta Fort Hotel has opened some Terra Cabins. The pinewood huts have been painted grey to blend in with the mountain backdrop. Roofs are slanted to accommodate solar panels that are coming soon. Guests are welcome to bring their dogs and use the facilities at the hotel nearby.

Visit JAResortsHotels.com

Chedi Al Bait

BEST FOR: A Culture Fix

Dubai’s neighbour Sharjah proudly preserves Emirati heritage through a number of art galleries, museums, institutions and landmarks. Al Noor Mosque and Sharjah Mosque are grand pieces of architecture that invite visitors to take a tour and learn about Islam. The House of Wisdom is a high-tech library designed by Foster + Partners – around 100,000 books sit on shelves flooded by natural light. The Butterfly House on Al Noor Island lets you walk through tranquil indoor gardens, where you’ll act as a landing zone for the delicate insects. For a luxury stay in Sharjah, head to The Chedi Al Bait, a cluster of seven historic houses offering some authentic Arabic hospitality. Recently added to the peaceful hotel is The Serai Wing – two luxury private houses within the former home of a 19th-century pearl merchant.

Visit GHMHotels.com

The Chedi Al Bait
The Chedi Al Bait

SO Uptown

BEST FOR: A Cool Staycation

You can tell a lot about a hotel by the coffee table books it displays in its lobby. SO Uptown near Dubai’s busy Jumeirah Lakes Towers neighbourhood has a wonderful collection of tomes that touch on architecture, minimalism, photography and hot travel destinations. Dubai’s latest big hotel opening is the talk of the town for its super luxe design from architecture studio Woods Bagot. Dark woods, bold geometric prints, gorgeous lamps and highly stroke-able green velvet sofas make SO Uptown the perfect spot for a cool urban staycation.

Visit So-Hotels.com

Terra Solis

BEST FOR: A Party Weekend

Regular at Tomorrowland? Recapture the party vibes with a weekend stay at Terra Solis, a desert dance camp from the same crew behind Dubai’s electronic music festival. Powered by an Ibiza-inspired soundtrack from a strong line-up of international DJs, Terra Solis is an adults-only glamping experience in Dubai that revolves around a 360º swim-up bar in a massive central pool. Revellers can stay in Bedouin-style tents or luxury lodges before waking up and doing it all over again. 

Visit TerraSolisDubai.com

Nurai Island Resort

BEST FOR: White Sands & Blue Waters

Each guest at Nurai Island Resort off the coast of Abu Dhabi is now assigned a dedicated butler to personalise their trip, taking care of everything from spa treatments and dinner reservations to water-sport bookings. Only accessible by a 15-minute speedboat trip from Saadiyat Island, Nurai is a little piece of the Maldives in the UAE, with crystal-clear seawater and white sandy beaches. Private villas have a cabana with direct beach access, a plunge pool, an outdoor shower, and bicycles for guests to mosey around. 

Visit NuraiIsland.com

Terra Solis
Terra Solis
SO Uptown
SO Uptown

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