Welcome to Qasr Al Sarab in the Arab Peninsula's Empty Quarter

It is about 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi, into the Empty Quarter

Monica Kapila

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Where is the "Qasr Al Sarab hotel?"

In the Empty Quarter or the second largest sand desert in the world!

It is about 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi, into the Empty Quarter. The seclusion of the setting really adds to the whole experience of the trip. It’s not a difficult drive, but you mustn’t miss the E65. It is nothing like going to Bab Al Shams in Dubai. Qasr Al Sarab is a much grander and bigger affair.

Accommodation at the Qasr Al Sarab

It comprises of Arabic style rooms, suites, private and royal villas depending on your requirements and budget. We stayed in a terraced room. (These rooms can sleep 3 and have spectacular views of the desert scenery) I have come across pillow menus in luxury hotels, but this was the first time I was offered a soap menu too! Choose from Cedar wood, Vetiver or Ginger flower!

Food at the Qasr Al Sarab

We had dinner at the Bedouin style set up Al Falaj. The atmosphere is just right for this type of setting but this dining area will close in the summer months as it is out doors. The meals come as a set package comprising of many little courses and are fairly good. I thought the mezzes though should have been of a higher quality for this kind of hotel. There is a fine dining restaurant called Suhail on the rooftop that serves a very international menu that includes fois gras! I suggest you have a drink or 2 during Happy Hour here. An excellent deal for Dhs 30 that includes cocktails and very posh canapés. This fact isn’t well advertised around the hotel.

Activities at the Qasr Al Sarab

There are a number of activities you can get involved with during your stay here, paid and unpaid. The pool areas and very well equipped gym are free of charge, but other activities listed here must be paid for and booked as early as possible as they are very popular. We did the Falcon and Saluki dog show and it was extremely impressive but I think a little over priced at Dhs 310 per person. You could choose from desert walking, Archery, Dune Bashing, Falcon and Saluki show, Horse Riding, Camel Trekking, Biking or even desert yoga!

Areas for improvement at the Qasr Al Sarab

Prices of some of the activities: We thought that Dhs 310 per person for the Saluki dog and falcon show was a little overpriced for what it was, especially if you had older children.

Roll away bed quality: This was better at the Eastern Mangroves according to our teenager!

Quality of the mezzes at Al Falaj: As mentioned above, could have been better.

Worth Knowing

Cocktails at Suhail Rooftop bar: Dhs 30 for cocktails with high quality canapes at Suhail is a fabulous deal.

The in room Soap menu: The Vetiver is one for the guys!

The Conquer the Dune Challenge in Conjunction with Operation Smile. Read about this ongoing challenge here: Conquer The Dune

Worthwhile stops on the way to Qasr Al Sarab

The Emirates National Auto Museum. About an hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi, this museum houses around 200 vehicles belonging to Sheikh Al Nayahan of Abu Dhabi. The vehicles range from cars, jeeps, dune buggies, army carriers and desert rovers! This is a fascinating collection and has to be seen to be believed. The Rainbow motif appears a lot on many of the vehicles and reminded me of the 60s with all the multi colored Mercedes Benzes.

I LOVED the classic Mercedes Benz that are obviously not seen much now but still ooze style and panache. Note that costs Dhs 50 to enter the museum and they don’t take credit cards. There are toilets and a very good juice shop in the grounds, so a good idea before you continue on for another hour and a half or so to stop off here.

If you are filling up with petrol AFTER your stay at Qasr Al Sarab then I recommend you fill up at the first petrol station and buy some of their excellent quality Coffee Planet organic coffee to keep you going!

This article was originally published here.