The Middle East: mysterious, exotic, decadent, opulent. This fascinating area of the world often makes headlines for its deep-rooted conflicts, but there are so many other layers to this region, where dramatic architecture, excessive design and wealth run supreme. A visit to the Middle East includes the glitziest of cities and the most picturesque of beaches, but it also likely includes a stay in one of the most surreal hotels in the world: think living like royalty in an Arabian palace or relaxing by your own personal pool in the desert.
Here, we’ve rounded up five of the Middle East’s most over the top hotels – though we say that in the best way possible (who wouldn’t want to stay there!):
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
This iconic, sailboat-shaped hotel in Dubai is one of the most recognizable structures in the world, extended out from under the sea into the sky as if a spaceship ready for take off. And it’s not just the architecture that’s jaw-dropping, it’s also the service: we’re talking personal butlers and an optional chauffeur, driving you around the dazzling city in a Rolls-Royce. With over 200 suites, four pools, nine restaurants and bars and even a private beach, this hotel oozes luxury and indulgence – and you have yet to even see the Royal Suite!
Al Maha Resort, Dubai
If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping under the stars in the Arabian desert, there is no better way to do it than with a stay at Al Maha Resort. The star of the show is the desert, as you settle in amid sand dunes, Arabian oryx and gazelles and enjoy activities such as camel riding and dune trekking. But the villas are a true work of art themselves, showcasing incredible rare Arabian furnishings and decorations and featuring a personal sundeck and pool. And they say camping can’t be luxurious…
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Talk about breathtaking: walking up the long pathway and arriving at the wide steps of Emirates Palace is like preparing to meet royalty, which is exactly how guests are treated. This spectacular, ornate hotel is located in the heart of the city and designed as a traditional, ornate Arabian palace, with more than a hundred 18-meter-high domes and stunning entrances, walkways and suites drenched in marble and gold. With 24-hour butler service, a private terrace overlooking the city or the sea and a suite fit for a king, the service only matches the luxurious amenities of the palace, including a world-class spa, enormous pool and long, sandy beach.
Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Oman
This expansive, luxurious complex is more than just a resort and spa – it’s a whole community! With its three distinct resort areas, “the Oasis,” “the Town,” and “the Castle”, meandering through the hotel is like walking through different worlds, as the lively town-with-the-resort makes way for the palatial castle, the most luxurious area of them all, all set against an spectacular view of the ocean and desert mountains. You could spend days exploring all the resort has to offer – including private beaches, a lazy river and world-class spa – or venture into nearby Muscat, just a hop, skip and jump away.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
For sweeping coastal cliff and sea views that extend for eons, look no further than Six Senses Zighy Bay, a luxurious resort perched on the Musandam Peninsula, the northernmost point of Oman. Specializing in world-class spa services, this resort boasts more than 80 villas and suites, in a style mimicking a traditional Omani village and each with their private plunge pool, terrace, dining area and outside shower. And that’s not all: the resort features a wide variety of incredible activities, from hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and even microlight flying over the bay! After days packed with adventure at the resort, guests may dine atop a dramatic rocky cliff, enjoying gourmet cuisine at the resort’s signature restaurant.