It’s officially the lowest place on Earth, at 414m (1,358ft) below sea level, but the Dead Sea has more to it than just impressive stats and super-buoyant salty waters for people who want to read a newspaper while floating. An array of resorts make it a great spot for a holiday in the sun – especially a family-friendly one – and the location is within easy access of other local highlights including, on the Israeli side, Jerusalem and the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were famously uncovered. Here they are, then, the best resorts on the Dead Sea.
A floating pontoon with its own sundeck? Yes, please. This upmarket resort makes the most of its location perched above the waters of the Dead Sea, with balconied rooms, an infinity pool and a sky bar all facing out to vivid blue views. An Italian restaurant, Bacchus, turns out delicate handmade pastas at dinnertime, but before that, in the afternoon, head to VUE lounge for a decadent chocolate-themed afternoon tea and an array of board games.
Earthy stone exteriors, landscaped gardens and scatterings of mature palms introduce a genuine old-world atmosphere to this resort, structurally inspired by traditional local village architecture. Rooms are swish and modern, with crisp white sheets and balconies the main attraction. Eat pastries with coffee overlooking the Dead Sea, then pop to the beach for a float in those astonishingly buoyant waters; a spa is at the ready should you want to properly indulge.
The grounds of the Kempinski are seriously impressive: waterfalls and lagoon-pooled gardens conspire with a spectacular infinity pool skirting the Dead Sea to create maximum wow factor. The perfect solution for couples looking to indulge are the suites – many possessing prime views as well as complimentary mini-bars and sink-in bathtubs. With more than half a dozen different dining options, you’ll need to book in for at least a week to do justice to them all.
With its architecturally Bauhaus-reminiscent whitewashed exterior, the Marriott looks as if it’s been plucked straight from the beaches of Tel Aviv. That grand exterior gives way to an atrium-like lobby immersed in sultry greenery and, finally, to an epic pool area, set beside the sandy shores of the Dead Sea. Smart, modern rooms will suit all kinds of travellers, families included, who can plan their days over cuppas in the coffee house stuffed with books.
A short drive from the ancient rocktop fortification of Masada – one of the principal attractions in the region – this resort is a failsafe choice for families, who will be in seventh heaven exploring its multiple pool spaces lined with loungers – not to mention its kids’ club with a video arcade and other activities. An on-site spa also rolls out a sauna, fitness centre and jacuzzi, generously split over two levels; there’s also an al fresco solarium – a much-loved relaxing spot in which to catch a few rays.
In order to experience the restorative properties of a Dead Sea break to the max, book into this contemporary resort, set right on the sands. Some of the gold and turquoise rooms come with their own sundecks, so you can go straight from bed to working on your tan. Locate, too, the atmospheric hammam: a chilled-out place where you can get your skin buffed to newborn softness after a life-affirming wallow in the Dead Sea’s extraordinary saline depths.
Set on the shoreline, in the shadow of the mountains that frame the Dead Sea, the Isrotel Dead Sea is a sophisticated combination of elegance and family-friendliness, with statement chandeliers, popular cabanas by the water and a dedicated kids’ swimming pool. Make a reservation for dinner at the Ranch House Restaurant, and you can feast on succulent sirloin steaks followed by hot chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Try floating after that. (You still will.)
As its name suggests, Milos takes its decorative cues from the Greek islands. The resort’s USP, beyond its beautiful whitewashed exterior, is its restaurant, which serves up taverna-informed favourites. Rooms are, similarly, calm essays in white and cream, with flashes of blue and, in some cases, private pools facing the Dead Sea. Indulge in a seaweed or date wrap in the spa, then spend the rest of the afternoon on a palm-shaded lounger, getting stuck into a good book.
What’s not to adore about this Dead Sea favourite in Jordan? The spa is a watery wonderland, all a-bubble with hydrotherapy jets and a saltwater jacuzzi. The beach cabanas, tended to lovingly by a private butler, are your invitation to laze the days away, sipping proffered fresh fruit juices. And the balconied rooms? They’re your opportunity to ease slowly into mornings, sitting and admiring the glimmering azure-blue waters. If you’re looking for a properly lazy beach break in Jordan after the rigours of sightseeing, the Crowne Plaza is your Dead Sea dead-cert.
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