We enjoyed our night in the desert in Oman so much that we decided to give it another go in Dubai, but with a slightly different twist; this time we would stay in a five star resort in the desert! We thought it would be a fitting way to end our time in the Middle East.
When you arrive at Bab Al Shams, you can't help but admire the decor. Traditional style lights and lanterns are all around along with secluded seating areas called majlis. The pool area is fantastic with three interconnected pools, lots of sun loungers and a swim up bar. On one side you can swim right up to the pool's edge and look out at the desert. Brilliantly designed, the pools are shaped in a way that makes you feel the area isn't too crowded even when a lot of people are there because of all the hidden alcoves.
The rooms are well suited to those who like traditional style combined with modern luxury. I have to admit, I feel it would be difficult to get much work done in the room due to the lighting, but I'm not sure how many show up expecting to work anyway! Plus there are numerous outdoor areas to work if absolutely necessary. The setting, however, is much more conducive to a romantic weekend away. The beds were super comfy and the deep soaking bath divine. I also enjoyed the Dead Sea bath products provided. The stuffed dates and oranges were a nice touch as well.
If you're not there for the romance, numerous activities are also available to guests and visitors. Our hotel stay included a free camel ride and though we chose not to take it, the gleeful laughter and squeals of many of the other guests as the camels noisily stood up (a lot of camel groans were involved) were testament to how popular the rides are. There was also a falcon show, which was a real treat because although falconry is famous throughout the Middle East, we hadn't had an opportunity to see it until Bab Al Shams. Other activities such as archery, desert tours, and a dinner buffet with traditional Arabic entertainment could be purchased extra and day trippers are welcome to pay to use the facilities.
To be honest, service at reception could have been a little more prompt (it took 40 minutes to check out); however, one service I found to be beyond top notch was the airport transfer. It's quite a drive to Dubai airport and the Ford Explorer that whisked us away was ultra-comfortable. Even better though was the service we received from our driver. Cool towels to wipe away the sweat and dust of the day were provided, along with chilled and unchilled water. He made sure the aircon was just right for us and pointed out interesting sights along the way. I wish I had caught his name but let me say, Bab Al Shams, your driver from Kerala is a real gem.
Overall, our experience at Bab Al Shams was one to remember. I think it's a great option for anyone in Dubai looking for a desert escape. Don't expect sleek and modern though. This is a very different experience than the hotels in the city offer.