Glamping in the UAE? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Dine on epic meals under the starry desert sky; bed down in a luxe tent pitched on rambling sands; wake to panoramic sunrises over glittering surf – wherever you choose to book, one thing’s for certain: it won’t be run-of-the-mill. And whether you want a bird-watching retreat in Sharjah or a beachfront camp in Ras Al Khaimah, we have a place to suit. Here are the best spots for glamping in Dubai and the UAE.
There’s nothing better than waking up to a view of the sun-drenched sea. And this luxe campsite in Ras Al Khaimah, perched on the Arabian Gulf, lets you do just that – from pre-pitched glamping domes or tipi-style tents, set right on the powdery sands. On-tap activities – including morning yoga, kayaking, kite-flying and massages in the outdoor spa – ensure you’ll never get bored. Kids particularly enjoy the waterfront obstacle course and night-time bonfires, while couples love the atmospheric floating theatre.
The pampering at this nature-focused Sharjah retreat starts from the get-go: you arrive by private boat transfer, gliding across mirror-like Arabian Sea waters. And it just gets better from there, with mornings bird- and turtle-watching in the nearby mangroves, and evenings bedding down in a glam tented lodge, complete with proper bathroom, plunge pool and four-poster bed (the largest has three bedrooms, ideal for families). The restaurant serves organic, globe-trotting cuisine but you can also ask staff to sort out a DIY barbecue for your tent.
A night in the desert is a must when you come to the UAE, and this Sharjah glamping retreat lets loved-up couples or groups of friends do it in style. A grand central Emirati ‘castle’ complex houses dining spaces, a health club and a cool indoor pool – a perfect retreat if the Arabian heat starts to overwhelm. But come nightfall, you’ll retire to one of 10 tents, complete with dune-facing pools and swish, locally inspired furnishings.
There’s no chance of getting bored at Bedouin Oasis – this Ras Al Khaimah pad will sort you out with desert activities galore, from quad biking to camel trekking, desert safaris to visits at a local date farm. Even dinner comes with entertainment, in the form of belly dancers, henna painting and fire juggling. Book into the family-sized tent and treat the kids to a private bonfire under a patchwork of stars.
Whether you’re catching up with colleagues or celebrating a birthday with family, the social vibe at the Dunes in Ras Al Khaimah feels perfectly suited to groups. A mix of accommodation styles – stilted treehouses, luxe domes, intimate igloo tents – means there’s a sleeping arrangement to suit everybody, while a host of diverse activities lets all ages get involved. Sign up your crew for a sandboarding session before sunset, followed by a blowout buffet dinner.
A visit to the UAE isn’t only about desert and sea. This mountainside retreat gives you a whole other side of the country – cooler-climate Hatta, with its historic watchtower, lush greenery and kayaking lakes. Nearby, the Hatta Wadi Hub has everything from mountain biking to zorbing on tap, so this is a great pick for families with busy kids. The cabin-style rooms at the lodge, which come with ace hilltop views and modern furnishings, can sleep up to four too.
Perched on the edge of the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world – known as the Empty Quarter – this glamorous Abu Dhabi stay combines romantic Bedouin vibes with Instagram-perfect styling. The tents, set right on the red sands, look straight out of a glossy magazine, with patterned carpets and rattan-style furniture; a dreamy set up for couples. Meanwhile, fill your days with all the classic desert activities, from camel rides to barbecue dinners under cloudless skies.
Less than 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of Ras Al Khaimah, this glampsite gives you a taste of the Emirati rural life without a long trek – just the ticket if you’re only visiting for a short time. If you have a pet in tow, this is a dog-friendly stay, with many owners coming to let their pups roam free among the shade-casting trees or russet sands. Choose from a cosy pitched-roof pod with double bed or, if your pooch needs room to stretch out, a larger lodge.
You might argue that with so many luxe amenities – sun-drenched swimming pool, rambling terraced restaurant, ornate villa-like sleeping spaces with traditional Emirati prints, lanterns and sculpted alcoves – that this is a step above glamping. And yet despite the indulgences, this Abu Dhabi getaway channels the vibe with its remote location, in the red-tinged dunes southeast of the city. Let staff welcome you with cardamom-spiced coffee and gooey dates, then sign up for an afternoon of fat biking on the sands.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Jessica Harn.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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