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Hotel Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort

A tale of a thousand and one nights

Departing Abu Dhabi in the morning to Anantara Qasr al Sarab Resort Desert Resort where we had a reservation for a few nights, we drove several hours in the Liwa desert which, as we drive further, becomes more and more beautiful. Then, where all life seems impossible in this ocean of dunes, a palace straight out of a tale of a thousand and one nights emerges behind a dune. Not a sign of life... would it be a mirage?

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On the way to Qasr al Sarab

The Qasr al Sarab is an isolated jewel that deserves. It takes 2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi, 3.5 hours from Dubai. The last kilometers are so beautiful that it will take 30 minutes to stop to admire the landscape and take pictures.

The road begins in the suburbs of Abu Dhabi, one of these dusty industrial districts crossed by a highway crowded with trucks and vans, where all the senses of the driver are awake. We take the famous road 11 along the Emirates coast taking the direction of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. There are no more clear directions as there is no big emirian city there, except maybe Tariff.

The first hundred meters prefigure what is the road until the border: a burning bitumen crossing a flat desert without interest, monotonous and without possibility to see the sea.

Fortunately we will quickly leave this road to take the E65. The road goes to the Liwa Oasis, but as on this straight track there is nothing for 130 kilometers, and at the end of the road there is only the desert, there is no road signs. Fortunately, a discreet brown sign indicates the Qasr al Sarab hotel. We then leave the highway at the level of the incinerator of Abu Dhabi, with its discharge in the open air. Don't take the truck road: take the two-lane road to the beautiful asphalt without central land.

A few miles away, let's stop for an hour at National Automobile Museum. Then take again the road which reveals a more and more undulating desert. It goes without saying that before approaching this great straight line of more than a hundred kilometers, it is better to supply in Abu Dhabi full tank of petrol and fresh water because there will be no refueling possible.

After a long drive we arrive in a small town that marks the entrance to the oasis. There is an ADNOC petrol station on the other side of the road, it is advisable to refill your petrol, use the toilet and buy some fresh drinks. Then for the rest of it will have to be vigilant: take the main road to the south. A brown sign indicates the direction of the hotel Anantara Qasr al Sarab: it is a half turn (U turn) then quickly turn right on a lane that cuts fences.

There begins the road to Qasr al Sarab. Here no more central springboard, lights or electricity poles. The winding road in the dunes is sublime. If you park on the downside to take pictures, be careful to keep all the wheels on the road as it is very easy to get soggy. After a sandstorm, the dunes eat the road and you have to be careful around a bend. It is also a road that can be very risky to borrow at night. However, no need to have an all-terrain vehicle because the road from Abu Dhabi to the hotel is of very good quality.

Access Map to Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Hotel, Liwa Desert, United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Arriving at the hotel

A few kilometers before the hotel, two towers posted on either side of the road announce that the trip is coming to an end soon. Sometimes when the establishment is full or hosting personalities, a security team can filter visitors. No worries if you have booked room, but if you just want to visit the hotel you might be disappointed. So a tip: the day before your visit, call the hotel to reserve a lunch table.

Finally the gigantic hotel complex perfectly integrated in the landscape is in sight. If you have a reservation at Qasr al Sarab, a valet service will pick you up. If you just come for lunch or a drink, park your car yourself at the upper parking lot (take the path that climbs to the left, near the helicopter runway).

Wall of the Qasr al Sarab Hotel in the Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi Emirate ©Odyfolio

Visit of the hotel

Whatever your point of entry, take a stroll outside trying to head to the pool. Near the main hall, there is a large terrace and an air-conditioned lounge where you can enjoy a drink. We advise you to have lunch at the restaurant near the swimming pool. If you do not have a reservation at the hotel and are just there to visit, it is courteous to have lunch at the restaurant and not to try to use the pool and its loungers.

During your visit, do not forget to go to the Souk of the hotel.

Restaurants

Like all hotels of this isolated status, you need to budget for food and beverages. Al Waha Restaurant offers a buffet. Outside, we advise you from noon the restaurant Ghadeer for an Arab and Mediterranean cuisine (better choice if you do not have room at the hotel). In the evening, before sunset, enjoy a drink on the Suhail terrace (rooftop style) and admire the sunset, then stay there for dinner. On reservation the Anantara Hotel can organize romantic dinners in the middle of the dunes, or in a luxurious version of a Bedouin camp.

Activities offered by the hotel

Qasr al Sarab offers classic tourist activities such as desert hikes, camel rides, dune bashing (4x4 tour), falconry demonstration, horse riding, yoga, sand biking and sand yachting. It may be interesting to take a room + activities package.

As in all Thai Anantara hotels, Qasr al Sarab has a very high quality spa.

Reservation to hotel Qasr al Sarab Resort and Spa

You can contact the hotel directly through their website. Online travel agencies booking.com, Expedia or Opodo may offer promotional fares that are not available for direct sale at the hotel. Be careful to compare prices with equal service (breakfast, inclusion of tourist taxes, cancellation penalties).

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To see around

The hotel is very isolated, there is only desert around. Do not miss our article on recommended itineraries in the Liwa desert. Leaving the hotel you can follow the Liwa Oasis Forts Road and end the day at the Moreeb Dune. If you enjoy the Anantara hotel chain, you can visit their establishments on Sir Baniyas Island, still in the Al Gharbia area but north on the coast.

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Visit also

Al Gharbia
Best Liwa Desert Hotels
Top Hotels Al Gharbia
Sir Bani Yas Island
Forts Route
Dune of Moreb
Tilal Liwa Hotel
Abu Dhabi Auto museum

Notes and references ▼