I took a mini-break for a night, and headed to the Tilal Liwa hotel in the middle of the desert.
My friend was in a relationship, and bought a romantic Groupon package for him and his lady, a no-expense spared package with a romantic candle-lit dinner for two, massages, camel rides, chocolate-covered strawberries and all the gooey stuff.
Sadly (for him), a few weeks before they could redeem the offer, the relationship got broken off.
Unlucky for them, but lucky for me, I was happy to stand in as female accomplice (platonic of course).
The hotel is about 2.5-3 hours drive from Dubai, past Abu Dhabi and into the Western Region. It’s a fairly barren drive, though the sand dunes on the horizon become breath-taking once your out on the open road.
We departed at around 9.30am on the Friday to make it to Tilal Liwa before noon.
The hotel is very Arabic – in its decor and atmosphere. It’s like walking into a souk in the lobby, with Arabic music, the smell of oud, and large Arabic coffee pots, and lanterns adorning the space.
There are plenty of families around, and couples.
Naturally, the first thing I checked out were the pool and the bar. The pool is spectacular, overlooking endless sand dunes. The bar was deserted, and not much to look at.
There’s no set spa (sad), but with the Groupon package were massages, which were in a makeshift room, though this didn’t matter too much.
There’s a buffet restaurant, where breakfast is served. The food for dinner was a bit average, but the breakfast buffet was plentiful and reasonable quality with all the regular buffet bests, as well as an egg station. The bread was a bit pitiful as the stuff hadn’t baked it much, but otherwise I was happy!
We did venture out to get lunch while there, as the hotel food was a little pricey (no surprise) so went into the town centre which took about 30 minutes drive, and bought some soda, and sandwiches to cut costs.
What to do:
The package included camel riding at sunset, though this was considerably less glamourous than it sounded – as not only were the ‘rides’ a one-at-a-time line up but only went about 20 metres along, turned around and came back, BUT the camel didn’t seem very happy, moaning as he was required to keep getting up and down with the riders. I chose to forfeit my ride, and instead fed the camel leaves which was fun – and I’ve ridden a camel before so I didn’t mind giving the poor guy a rest.
Dune bugging is available, which is SUPER fun, and you can explore the dunes. It’s the perfect for this location as there’s an endless line of dunes and very little around.
Otherwise it’s very relaxed, I spend a huge amount of time just swanning about in the pool, and enjoying the quiet (particularly the lack of traffic and construction noise).
A mini-break, just to get yourself out of the city.
It’s a peaceful retreat with a touch of romance, so great for couples looking to celebrate an anniversary or treat themselves – we had a giggle about it being friends, but made the most of the getaway.
I came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Prices are Dhs399 per night during summer, but check online deals and packages before booking.