In today’s fast-paced world, it can often be tricky to carve out the time a traditional honeymoon deserves. For those on the go, or wanting to capture that magical post-wedding buzz, minimoons serve as a fantastic mini-break to keep the celebrations going between a wedding and a honeymoon. Luckily, the UAE is the perfect destination for this, with everything from beach resorts to mountain retreats and desert escapes, allowing couples to truly get away, even for a night or two. The country is also perfect for a honeymoon, by combining two of these resorts for a wonderfully varied escape.
The best resorts for a minimoon or honeymoon in the UAE
Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi
While Maldives is a popular honeymoon destination, and a short flight from the UAE, with transfers it can be tricky to truly relax on a mini break. Enter Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi’s answer to the idyllic archipelago. On a private island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, this all-villa resort can only be accessed by a speedboat from the welcome centre on Saadiyat Island. Each nautically-inspired villa is an ode to luxurious Maldives escapes with whitewashed interiors, open-plan living spaces, round-the-clock service and a beach-facing private pool. Guests who can tear themselves away from the luxuries of their villa can enjoy international dining at Frangipani, a breezy beach club and rejuvenating treatments at the spa that overlooks the ocean. It’s also suited for longer stays and a honeymoon in the UAE, with easy access back to mainland Abu Dhabi for exploration and day trips.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Abu Dhabi
Resembling a traditional, low-lying Arabian fortress, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara truly earns its name – translating to “palace of mirages” in Arabic. Truly appearing like a mirage from the long winding desert driveway that leads you through swirling sands, the sprawling desert resort emerges from the flame-hued dunes with breathtaking grandeur. Perfect for a romantic mini-moon in the UAE, there are 52 spacious villas – many with their own private pools and all complete with endless desert views, understated local design flourishes, pillow and soap menus, plus mod-cons like Nespresso machines and Bose sound systems. The resort also newly unveiled its magnificent ultra-luxury Al Sarab Villa, and also hosts romantic desert activities like sunset picnics and camel rides – making it a romantic and thrilling minimoon or honeymoon in the UAE location.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s ultra-luxe historic Emirates Palace resort, recently part of the Mandarin Oriental portfolio, is the perfect spot for a mini-moon in the UAE – with a secluded, palatial vibe and lavish Arabian interiors that more than earn it its regal name. The property is enormous, sprawled along a 1.3-kilometre private beach and featuring 394 guest rooms and suites, 12 restaurants and bars, a concert-grade auditorium, two swimming pools, a spa and two fitness centres, meaning couples can easily hide away. A romantic hotel that foodies can enjoy dining their way around, Hakkasan and Martabaan by Hemant Oberoi are just two of the big-hitting fine dining options within this Abu Dhabi hotel.
Bulgari Resort Dubai, Dubai
A UAE mini-moon that ticks all the boxes in the style stakes, Bulgari Resort Dubai is one of Dubai’s most luxurious, stylish and exclusive resorts, surrounded by the shimmering waters of Jumeira Bay and accessed from the mainland by a long drive. Spread across 1.4 million square feet, guests can check-in to contemporary guest rooms with chic maritime touches, spacious suites or ocean-facing villas for additional privacy. Among the gourmet dining highlights is the nine-seater Japanese restaurant, Hoseki, a regular in the Michelin guide and World’s 50 Best Discovery, as well as tributes to Bulgari’s Italian heritage in the forms of the Bulgari Yacht Club Restaurant and Il Ristorante – Niko Romito, an extension of the signature restaurant at the Bulgari Resort Milan. This is the place to live la dolce vita in Dubai.
One&Only The Palm
One&Only The Palm is the more subdued, smaller sister to One&Only Royal Mirage’s grand reputation and grounds, and has earned itself a name as one of the most romantic resorts in Dubai. Located on the outermost reaches of Palm Jumeirah’s western crescent, it feels worlds away from the city (a 20-minute drive from the mainland, or a free water taxi to Royal Mirage across the bay. The 90-key hotel is Andalusian in its façade and style reminiscent of Alhambra Palace and lures couples with its private spots and secretive feel. Palm trees frame the private slick of golden beach and the pool, loungers and private cabanas – which are rentable and come with shower rooms, TVs, air con and private terraces. The Guerlain Spa – all pink and waterfalls – will melt away any stresses, not that there are many at the languid resort, a hotel home to a restaurant by triple-Michelin-star-winning chef Yannick Alléno. Rooms come with balconies or furnished garden patios, are stocked with Acqua di Parma amenities and top suites and villas even have private pools – cementing its status as one of the most romantic resorts in the emirate.
Anantara The Palm, Dubai
Looking at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, you might be mistaken for thinking it’s a tropical island resort in Thailand or the Maldives. The Thai-based luxury group opened its version of its island idyll on Dubai’s most famous island, Palm Jumeirah, back in 2013 as the first resort in the Middle East to have over-water villas – with glass panels where guests can survey the waters below and direct access to the peaceful waters of the Arabian Gulf. In the past decade, it’s been a firm favourite with locals and an in-the-know secret for tourists. On a private 400m stretch of pristine of white sand on the coveted Palm Jumeirah, guests can enjoy the most romantic mini-moon getaway, with a villa host on hand to cater to your every whim. A generous-sized tub with uninterrupted views is a luxury bonus.
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
Things change suddenly when driving from Dubai to Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa. The high rises and residential compounds give way to sandy planes, and eventually when entering Dubai’s protected desert conversation, glorious burnt-orange dunes. As far as desert retreats in the UAE go, Al Maha is regarded as one of the most luxurious and romantic. Set within 225 sq kilometres of protected land, it’s home to picture-perfect private pool villas with tented ceilings and modern facilities like private en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. The Bedouin aesthetic runs throughout this desert resort, although precious antiques, delicate tapestries and wooden deck’s with private pools give each of the tent suites a luxury feel. For adventurous couples, desert activities such as camel rides, desert safaris, nature walks, archery and falconry can all be arranged, while those looking to simply bask in their surroundings can book in for pampering spa treatments and sip mixed drinks at Hajar Terrace Bar as the sun dips below the dunes.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
In the 500-hectare Al Wadi Nature Reserve amid rolling dunes and ghaf trees is The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert. Bedouin and Moorish architectural styles dominate the design aesthetic of this luxury desert resort, on grounds dotted with the region’s traditional fort towers. One of the most popular spots for a proposal, minimoon or honeymoon in the UAE, this Ras Al Khaimah resort is plush and spacious – from 158 to 253sqm – each villa or tent includes desert views, a private pool and chic Arabian décor. As well as being able to dine around four restaurants and two bars, unique dining experiences can be arranged for mini-mooners, including sunset picnics in the desert, with guests transported to their al fresco experience in a vintage 1952 Land Rover.
Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach
Bringing island-inspired luxury to the shores of Ras Al Khaimah, the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach features just 32 villas. Guests checking in at each villa can enjoy the intimate privacy of their own swimming pool and an expansive deck that leads out onto the secluded stretch of white sand. As well as in-villa dining, guests can enjoy a romantic dinner for two prepared especially for them on the beach. For minimooners and honeymooners looking to go all-out, book a sunset cruise on the Ritz-Carlton boat, and enjoy the sunset with your significant other from the Arabian Gulf while feasting on a picnic specially prepared by the chef.
Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah
The 53-key hotel The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah’s first luxury hotel, celebrates the rich history and culture of the emirate, and was one of the most ambitious hospitality projects Sharjah has ever seen. A collection of historic manor houses transformed into a boutique hotel, the overall design aesthetic is an upscale celebration of Emirati heritage and locally inspired designs fused with Asian influences. Spread over two and a half acres, it’s a walled haven of tranquillity complete with a warren of lantern-lit alleyways, which connect to a series of tucked away courtyards housing restaurants, a café, a library, museum, ice cream shop and a hammam and spa. This is the spot for a peaceful, intimate and low-key, yet luxury, minimoom or honeymoon in the UAE.