One night in Qasr Al Sarab

A few months ago D and I stopped into this property on our way out to the Liwa desert on a camping trip.  We figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a little bit of luxury before spending the weekend in a tent!  I had read reviews about Qasr Al Sarab and spoke to friends that had stayed there but nothing quite prepares you for the astounding beauty of this resort.  From the moment you enter the initial gateway from the road until you arrive at the main entrance of the hotel, it feels as if you are on the set of a movie.  The drive is about 15mins through sand dunes and the views are just spectacular.

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On arrival at the hotel we were greeted by a member of staff and led into the lounge area to relax while the check in process happened, I loved this because I hate standing around waiting to check in.  We were given cold towels, dates and a camel milk drink which was delicious!  I didn’t expect our room to be ready as we arrived about midday but it was and we were promptly taken on a golf buggy through the resort to our room.

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The rooms, like the rest of the property, are decorated in a very tasteful Arabian style.  All the stonework around the property is a sand colour and blends beautifully into the desert.  Our room had a beautiful terrace overlooking the swimming pool and out to the dunes.  The room itself was spacious and the bathroom was huge with a large circular bathtub, separate shower and double sinks.  I especially loved the Elemis toiletries!

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Shortly after check in our bags arrived along with the most beautiful bowl of exotic fruits, this was such a nice surprise and a great snack as we were hungry but in the heat of the desert the last thing you want to do is eat anything heavy.

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After the journey from Abu Dhabi we couldn’t wait to jump in the pool so off we went to explore.  I thought that it must be quite far away given that we were brought to our room in a golf buggy but it was a short walk down some stairs and there we were!  We had some friends staying at the resort also so we met them at the swim up bar in the pool.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the cost of drinks wasn’t extortionate.  I had imagined given the location of the property that the drinks would be super expensive but they had a menu with some cocktail specials of the day priced between 30 – 40 AED (€7.50-€10.00) which is very reasonable in the UAE.

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As the weather was so hot we all spent most of the day in the pool.  Going to the desert in the summer is definitely the hottest time but in contrast to the city which is super humid the heat in the desert was a lot drier and somewhat easier to deal with.  Staying in the pool under shade also helped!

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In the evening D and I went on a sunset camel ride into the dunes.  This experience was nothing short of magical.  We have been on camel rides before and enjoyed it but this was a different realm!  Our two camels were very clearly well treated and looked to be well fed.  The camel ride we did in Egypt was a sad experience as the camels looked exhausted and not well treated so it was nice to see that these camels were ‘happy!’

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We had a lovely chat with our guide who talked with us about his time working for Qasr Al Sarab, he had just finished Ramadan and genuinely seemed to love his job which always makes a massive difference in the level of service you receive at hotels.  I can always tell when someone is just going through the motions or if they actually have a passion for hospitality.

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We trekked up the dunes and arrived at a beautiful spot where there was a desert picnic organised for us.  Fruit skewers, arabic coffee, cold water (badly needed!) and dates.  At this point we got off our camels and there was a car waiting at the bottom of the dunes to take us back to the hotel.  Our guide told us to run down the dunes but I was really skeptical as they were so steep but once I started I couldn’t stop and it was so much fun!

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On arrival back to the hotel we freshened up and decided to have some dinner.  One of the restaurants was closed and we just wanted something casual so we went to the Mediterranean restaurant beside the pool called Ghadeer.  I ordered the Sea Bream en papillote and  it was the perfect choice, light and tasty but not too heavy in the 47 degree heat!  After this I really wanted to go for another dip in the pool but it closed at 9pm and we didn’t leave the restaurant until after this time so instead we went back to the room and had an early night.

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The next morning we wakened about 9.00am and went up to the main building for breakfast.  I’m annoyed I didn’t get more pictures of the set up and of the choice available as it was really quite the spread.  Most importantly for me there were lots of gluten free options!  There was even a gluten free toaster!  I gorged a bit on the gluten free pastries and muffins all washed down with some camel milk  blended with dates.  D had a few different courses including smoked salmon, an omelette made to order and some waffles!  As if the rest of our experience here wasn’t enough to convince us we needed to return for a second visit the breakfast won us over completely!

After breakfast we went to check out and leave our bags, we intended on making full use of the facilities for the day as we weren’t in any hurry to get back to the city and also because we couldn’t bare to leave!   We headed down to the pool and felt like VIPs with the treatment we got.  Someone came over to give us towels for our loungers, a few moments later a waiter came over with some fresh watermelon juice and after that someone came over to give us cold towels to freshen up with.  We hadn’t received any of this on the first day (we didn’t lie on the loungers so maybe that is why) but it was such a nice treat and we felt very spoiled.  We even had a little buzzer beside our lounger in case we needed to call for anything!

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At lunchtime we walked across the pool to the bar and ordered some food.  I wasn’t feeling hungry after the enormous breakfast so I just had a cocktail but D ordered a sandwich and I stole some of his side salad!

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While we were having lunch one of the waiters asked if he could clean our sunglasses, we felt a little embarrassed not being used to this kind of treatment and declined his kind offer but he insisted saying that we probably didn’t realise how dirty they were but that we’d really notice a difference if we let him do it…..who were we to argue and of course he was right, we could see way better out of them afterwards!

Shortly after lunch we decided that it was time to leave paradise and get ourselves organised for the journey home.  It takes about 2 hours and 20minutes to get to this beautiful desert oasis from the city of Abu Dhabi and is totally worth the drive.  We always talk about doing these things ‘once’ just for the experience but this will definitely be an adventure we repeat after the summer.

 

 

Qasr Al Sarab,

Liwa Desert

United Arab Emirate

Tel: +971 2 886 2088