The UAE is a country not short of luxurious hotel offerings. With such a focus on, and desire for privacy, many of the UAE’s top hotels offer private villas – mini oases to escape, recharge and relax, creating a more home-away-from-home experience. But one UAE hotel has elevated the luxury villa experience to new heights, launching what, could just be, the most luxurious and expensive hotel villa in the UAE.
Located in the rolling dunes of Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort By Anantara is just a two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi Airport and three hours from Dubai. Rising from the desert sands, the Arabian-style castle (qasr, in Arabic) is akin to a movie set, with its turreted roofs and Arabic forts. Guests stay in Arabesque rooms and suites in the main hotel or in the hotel’s charming and luxurious private villas dotted around the surprisingly green and manicured grounds – all looking out onto the terracotta dunes.
Set one kilometre from the resort itself is the newest of these villas – the breathtaking Al Sarab Villa. Designed with guests of the Abu Dhabi royal family in mind, the two-bedroom villa is a luxury mini palace in itself, the ultimate private experience, from the personal driveaway and parking to in-villa check-in and a discreet, personal private butler.
The villa is spread across an incredibly expansive 853 square metres, seemingly surrounded by desert sands, overlooking the endless dunes from its spacious terrace and gardens. A full-sized swimming pool, partly shaded by a canopy, also looks over the rolling dunes. The outdoor space is as sprawling and stylish as the main villa: a private outdoor patio for each bedroom, multiple majlis and a firepit for cosy evenings under the majestic desert skies.
Inside the villa, the heat of the desert gives way to a cool, fragrant space scented by giant, deliciously smelling diffusers by Vranjes Firenze. The modern Arabian decor plays on the UAE’s deep-rooted affinity with equestrianism and incorporates that into its luxury aesthetic through artwork and connections with in-keeping brands. A natural fit, the space is swathed in Hermès furnishings – blankets, cushion covers – notably in the grand living space with its majlis-style seating and ginormous television. Across the serene corridor is a dining room seating 12 guests, surrounded by counters with carefully curated design pieces and stacks of fascinating coffee table books.
What’s remarkable in the villas is the attention to detail; these feel like lived-in, curated, loved homes. Diffusers, candles, coffee table books and art all create the feeling of a beautiful home away from home. Bedrooms have walk-in wardrobes and en-suite bathrooms with large soaking tubs and French doors opening onto a secluded mini private patio with those iconic desert views.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort’s Al Sarab Villa is designed with the utmost privacy and discretion and mind, and a dedicated team of personal butlers during the stay are on hand. Just a Whatsapp away, the team are there to deliver in-room dining, organise dinner parties in the impressive dining room, book spa treatments at the elegant Anantara Spa, private sunset dinners on the dunes, morning camel walks, padel or tennis lessons (just some of the resort’s incredible range of activities). It’s common for guests to bring their own staff, and guest bathrooms, a full private kitchen and other amenities to make it seamless for group travel.
The Al Sarab Villa also has a second super-luxurious villa, the smaller Sahra Villa, for larger groups travelling together. It spreads across 489 sq m and has four bedrooms. The Sahra Villas also has its own pool, an outdoor terrace, and a living and dining space, emulating the same feeling as its larger, grander sister. The Sahra Villa is available for AED44,500.