Over the dunes, in a kingdom far, far away, there is an oasis they call Bab al Shams, or doorway to the sun.

Photostory – review follows the gallery.



Bab al Shams Hotel

  • Accommodation Style: Five-star Resort and Spa
  • Rooms: 113 rooms ranging from 33 sq meter Superior twin to 80 sq meter Royal Suite.
  • Price: From 900AED ($250US) for a superior room in low season. Doubles and more in peak.
  • Facilities: Pool, super spa and sauna, kids club, babysitting, several restaurants and bars, many on-site and off-site activities, AC, Wifi, licenced, meeting and events capabilities, car transfers and shuttle service to Dubai,
  • Nature and activities: horse-riding, archery, camel rides, and desert drives. Birds everywhere (although not much variety) Oryx farm next-door. Tours can be organised to Dubai.
  • Languages: Minimum English and Arabic, but also often staff available who speak Russian, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Perfect for: families with young children, business groups
  • Also not bad for: honeymooners, older couples wanting to experience the desert without working too hard for it, families with older children wanting some together time.
  • Pros: Incredible adobe-brick design. Lovely bathrooms. Lovely everything really. Beautiful photography opportunities. Pool and swim-up bar one of the best in the region, still works in early and late summer as there is lower humidity in the area and the pools are chilled and rates very low. Not too far from Dubai. Kids of all ages permitted. You can easily squeeze a young family of 4 into a superior room with an extra bed as there is a comfy day-bed perfect for a child up to about 10 years old. The king bed is really quite enormous too (don’t tell them that though, you’re not supposed to have more than 3 in the room). Al Hadheera restaurant is an incredible experience.
  • Cons: Not many interconnecting rooms. Desert is blond, desolate and flat, not undulating, speckled and russet like that around Al Maha (which is 4 times the price and doesn’t allow children under 12), and there is less wildlife. Food is variable – it has always been excellent until my latest visit, where it was fair, but a little overpriced. You are captive at the resort, and although there is complimentary drinking water and fruit around the pool, the bill will hit you at the end if you’re not careful. Al Hadheera is very expensive, but many deals will include dinner here, or a 50% discount.
  • Location: Inland of Jebel Ali, Dubai desert (map)
  • Nearest Airport: Dubai World Central (Maktoum international) Airport (25 minutes drive), Dubai International Airport (1hr drive)
  • Bookings: Via websitePhone: +971 4 3813231. Can often also be booked through hotelium at great discounts

Rating: 8.5/10*



*A guide to ratings: These take into account the price, quality, service and the facilities, and in effect are a value rating.

  • 0-2/10 = exceptionally overpriced. Avoid at all costs, even if it means travelling to stay elsewhere overnight.
  • 3-5/10 = overpriced in respect to quality. Don’t stay unless there are no other options.
  • 6-7/10 = reasonable value. Check other options in the area just in case, but not a bad choice over-all.
  • 8-9/10= worth seeking out. Great value in respect to the offer, one of if not the best option in the area.
  • 10/10= super place. Stop what you’re doing, book a plane ticket and go there now.

One thought on “Bab al Shams – Doorway to the Sun”

  1. I like this new category of yours Hedonista…. I didn’t know that the rates could be as low as Dhs 900/ (considering the premium property). Would you be knowing whether it’s an eco resort?

Some other suggestions or opinion to add? Please comment