I’ve always had my qualms about desert themed resorts, but Bab Al Shams really took the cake from me. As a Dubai-raised kid, I always thought..”Oh yeah, there’s just another fake Arabic-style resort.”
I was proven wonderfully wrong. The feeling emanating the minute you pull in to Bab Al Shams is one that takes you deep inside the UAE’s heritage. With all its shaded courtyards, majlis set ups and traditional art work, it truly made me feel like a tourist in my own city!
We entered the majlis-themed lobby and were welcomed in with refreshing lemon and mint juice as refreshments before we ventured to a check-in counter. A lucky chance with Groupon enabled us to spend a mere 800 AED with a 50 minute massage! Excellent deal for a five star resort.
After meandering through a central courtyard with an extremely Arabic style furniture and another majlis, we finally climbed up a dark, narrow stairwell to our room. It reminded me of my childhood in dubai; with all the low-rise buildings and massive spaces. Just like another Bastakiya. Tasteful lanterns add to the design and light up the way.
I loved our room so much! It had a bedouin feel and a really cozy nook to read in.
It was then time for our massage! We very excitedly walked over to the Sartori Spa which felt like a tranquil retreat in itself. We were attended to two expert masseuses. In a mere 15 minutes I was so relaxed, I was snoring while F.C. silently chuckled at my foolery in the background. Oops. A sneak peak at the spa rates and I was relieved we got the Groupon voucher. AED 375 for a mere half an hour massage! Yikes!
After we emerged all oily after our massage, we decided to go on a camel ride and pet the falcon. I’ve been numerous times on a camel ride, but this was the first time I went anywhere near a falcon (Did I ever mention I’m terrified of birds?). Bab Al Shams offers this as complimentary.
Head to the Al Sarab rooftop lounge to witness the sunset at its best. Get there a bit early, as you might miss the prime place to catch it. F.C. and I arrived a half an hour earlier and we still couldn’t get a perfect view. We ordered a sheesha and watched the sun go down in all its glory while smoking a grape mint shisha. Bliss. I ordered their raspberry lemonade which just tasted like Sprite. :/ We also ordered parmesan truffle fries, which were good. Bab Al Shams is expensive for food, so unless you have an Emirates NBD card or The Entertainer, you’re gonna be rolling your eyes at the prices. Emirates NBD holders get a flat 25% off on F&B. At around 8, a singer comes to serenade the visitors.
After the sunset, we took showers and then got ready for dinner at Le Dune – an Arabic/Italian restaurant that turned out to be mostly Italian- with the exception of an Arabic inspired pizza with sojouk sausage. That was an interesting pizza; but not as good as their beef lasagne which was really cheesy and wonderful.
If you are new to Dubai and want the whole experience, I suggest Al Hadeerah, a place that comes complete with different entertainment shows. However, it is a hefty AED 375 per head.
The next day, we made our way down to the pool post our buffet breakfast which has a few hydration jets scattered throughout it and a particularly freezing rain shower. It also included a swim up bar. I approve!
We had signed up for archery which is just AED 100 per head for hotel guests, but then later decided to cancel it and spend the rest of our afternoon lazing by the pool. Ahhh, bliss!