Up until now my posts have all been about food or wine, but today I want to share a hotel experience with you because it is true that in our constant quest to find the most amazing dishes, at times we are obligated, and I say this ironically, to spend a night or two away from home. So at the end of the day, hotels have their significance for us foodies. One of the most amazing hotels where I have ever stayed is Qasr al Sarab by Anantara in Abu Dhabi. This hotel is not only sumptuous with stunning rooms… but what stands out most is its location right smack in the middle of the desert or at least that is the sense you get after a two-hour drive through the Liwa Desert. Don’t let this turn you off. It is a straight easy traffic-free road until you reach the exit and then you have a 15 minute desert drive through the hotel premises. Here is where you start getting goose bumps as your expectations start to rise anticipating a truly unique experience. Upon arrival you are bestowed with what seems to be a desert fort with its sand color blending right in with the dunes. The doormen open your car doors and you are escorted inside the lobby decorated in a luxurious Bedouin style and the pampering experience begins.
The rooms are actually suites with a desert view walk out, a bathroom that could very well be half of my apartment with a round tub ideal for practicing your freestyle and a bed fit for an Arabian prince.
Coming from the city, for me just walking around the hotel was mindboggling with a sense of being at peace. Just watching the light change color on the dunes as the afternoon turned into evening was enough to make me want to memorize every sensation every tone and shade.
The hotel organizes several excursions such as horse-riding, camel walking or simple walks through the dunes. All the camel rides were booked so we opted for a sunset walk tour to see for ourselves a desert sunset.
Breakfast was en experience in itself. We were lucky to get a table out on the terrace and enjoy our freshly squeezed juices, eggs, toasts… while looking out on the desert. A falcon tamer was walking around showing off his majestic birds. Sarab al Qasar is a great place for all of you breakfast lovers. I fell in love with a sort of Lavash bread that they made fresh and topped with cheese or a herb sauce.
We were rather unfortunate with our dining choice, Al Falaj restaurant. The idea is a Bedouin style dining around tents in the sand so we thought that it would be a fun experience but we found the food to be cold and at a standard, which isn’t what one would expect from Anantara. The hotel management did inform us that it was a new project which still needed to be worked on. My advice is to definitely choose another restaurant.
If I was to highlight one moment it would be walking out barefoot onto our grassed terrace in the early morning, the bright blue sky contrasting with the desert sand and the crisp fresh air promising a new day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start each day that way?
The photos are all courtesy of Roberto Rabano.