Desert Luxury at Qasr al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

Desert Delight Qasr Al Sarab | Travel Diary | OurGlobetrotters.Com

Family Luxury or Romantic Retreat at Qasr Al Sarab?

One of the significant perks of living in the Middle East has been the opportunities we get every now and then to be treated to something truly special. 

Thanks to a generous client of my husband’s work, we have just been treated to two nights at the amazing Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort in the “The Empty Quarter,” which is about 2 hours from Abu Dhabi city, 3 hours from Dubai and not far from the Saudi border – basically the middle of nowhere.

This post is part of our series Discover the UAE

Getting to Qasr Al Sarab

Family Luxury or Romantic Retreat? Have it your way at Qasr Al Sarab, an absolute Desert Delight hidden in the Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi| Discover the UAE | Travel Diary | OurGlobetrotters.Net

Despite not being at the original location in Zighy Bay, Oman (apparently storms and crappy weather –  yes, it does rain in the Middle East – have made this resort inaccessible, I guess that’s what happens when you can only access the place by 4×4, speed boat or parasail into arrival). 

So a quick change of plans and a few hour’s drive in the complete opposite direction see us swap mountains, the seaside and passport control for the sweeping sandy Liwa Desert of our home emirate.

The rain made the ride out somewhat more treacherous than usual, mostly due to the inability of most drivers to adapt correctly to the conditions. Instead of dealing with the usual sand drifts and haze, we have washouts and flash flooding to contend with, along with a small overnight power outage- a scene perfectly set for a family adventure!

The Luxury Desert Resort Qasr Al Sarab

This did not distract from the breathtaking arrival at the resort. Grand fort-like towers greet you ahead of the beautiful Arabic-designed reception.  It is clear that every intricate detail has actually been thought about, and it truly is a luxurious UAE desert retreat

We have breathtaking views from our room and even catch a glimpse of the amber sunset through the storm clouds on our arrival; truly magnificent.

Is Qasr Al Sarab Kid friendly?


Of course, it would have been lovely to have enjoyed the 5-star resort as a romantic retreat for two, but in reality land here, we have the two little kiddies to consider, and they enjoyed the experience as much as we did. 

Although not purposefully designed for the younger crowd, they were well-catered for. We had a lovely shallow kiddie’s pool basically to ourselves at an ambient 29 degrees, and the pool bar included a shallow area where they could join us for a drink.

On the colder morning, a well-equipped and very friendly kids room was available (and as the kids get older, there is a free kids and teens club for the over 3’s). 

Our room also came with a lovely deep balcony area for the kids to play in safely. Unfortunately, the rain had soaked the cushions through, but it gave us some stunning views over the desert landscape, so many amazing colours that change throughout the day. Pre-booked babysitting for the evenings was readily available.

Qasr al Sarab Desert Delight | Discover the UAE | Travel Diary | OurGlobetrotters.Net

We, unfortunately, could not partake in any of the evening activities like dune bashing and camel rides due to the children’s size, but I am sure there will be plenty more time for these activities in years to come  (as mum breathes a sigh of relief, for now).

Any negatives to Qasr Al Sarab With Kids?

One downside to looking out for an isolated resort is they are just that! Make sure you have adequate ‘snacking provisions’ on you as the children’s menu is limited; after ordering the same meal five times overdue to our fussy young sir, the reprieve was certainly the breakfast buffet where you do get an amazing choice to stock up little stomachs (and proved fruitful for stocking up the handbag).

Qasr al Sarab Desert Delight | Discover the UAE | Travel Diary | OurGlobetrotters.Net

My only other ‘complaint’ from a parent’s perspective would be accessibility

There was step-free access to most areas of the resort if you didn’t mind taking a very long walk around or taking the courtesy buggies, but I found it quicker to simply lug myself, and beach bag and my children up and down the stairs.

What to bring to Qasr Al Sarab

Speaking of lugging stuff around, I had to look on with comical laughter at the amount of crap we managed to bring with us for one weekend – more than we took to Vietnam for a week!

The shifting weather created a first for us in the UAE that I didn’t know what we should all wear, so everything from raincoats to bathers and swim diapers were packed; two suitcases, one beach bag for swim gear, one adult backpack, 1 baby gear backpack, a stack of raincoats, a double stroller and a Trunki later we did look a little overdone for the occasion, but that’s what the porters are for right?

Qasr al Sarab Desert Delight | Discover the UAE | Travel Diary | OurGlobetrotters.Net

We did look on somewhat with jealousy as the suave young couples turned up with their matching Gucci overnight bags slung over their shoulders. But I bet when they were trying to make their way back to their room dodging puddles in the pitch black after the power outage, they wished their mum had packed their flashing Peppa Pig boots too.

My daughter’s only complaint when we got home? ‘But we didn’t get to build sandcastles!‘ Next time.

Globetrotters Recommend Qasr Al Sarab

Qasr al Sarab is synonymous with Arabian luxury in the UAE. Undoubtedly it’s still our top recommendation for anyone looking for that perfect luxurious desert resort experience in the UAE.

Ongoing renovations have seen the pool expanded over the years we have lived here and an extensive program of outdoor desert activities, including the addition of a luxury glamping option in the dunes.

It’s undoubtedly a thumbs-up from the Globetrotters. An overnight experience everyone should get on their bucket list.

So what are you waiting for, romantic retreat, family break – or both? 

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Disclaimer: Our initial visit to Qasr al Sarab for this review was paid for by a third party, subsequent visits since the initial review in 2013 are self-funded. This post is in no way sponsored by Anantara. If you book a stay through our affiliate links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy and website terms of use here

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16 thoughts on “Desert Luxury at Qasr al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Oh one day!! My big goal is losing nappies, bottles and strollers then we can travel A LOT lighter!!

  1. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    Looks like a great place – I’ve always wanted to stay in a desert resort. The kids pool looks awesome a no love it has a pool bar! It’s hard to believe the weather can get rainy in that part of the world. Hope you get to go to Zighy Bay one day #mondayescapes

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Pool bars are a pre-requisite for Mr Globetrotter when we book resorts! Yes Zighy Bay remains on that dream list – though definitely looks more like a romantic retreat than one I would want the kids with me!!!

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      ha ha! Yes never mind the luxury resort, breakfast buffet, kids club, swimming pool… sandcastles! ah well, next time.

  2. Claire at Tin Box Traveller says:

    As long as you (or the porters) can carry it I say always overpack. Running out of kiddie essentials like nappies would be a disaster! This looks like a great resort and I don’t think I could say no to the baby sitting service 🙂 #MondayEscapes

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Fitting it all in one car is more our issue these days!! at home we have a massive 4×4 but hire cars tend to be a lot smaller, they are forcing me to limit my overpacking – otherwise I’m with you!!!

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Gotta love a breakfast buffet Lisa!! (Mental note though to remember when I have soft fruits in my handbag….)

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Next time we hope it will be without kids! We’d love to do some of the extras like the camel rides, quad bikes

  3. Sally@Toddlers on Tour says:

    Got to love the fussy eater when you travel – not.
    I have learnt to stop worrying about the lack of variety being eaten whilst we are on holiday – it’s only for a short time. But if you are concerned then you can always purchase kid vitamins before you travel to ensure their nutrient intake as adequate.

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      I’ve long since stopped caring what they eat while we’re on the road!! Thank goodness for chips and pasta is all I can say… certainly not short on a carb or two around here!

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