Have you have ever dreamed of entering the world of the Arabian Nights and exploring a land where the golden and salmon coloured dunes stretch from the horizon on to the horizon; discovering exotic markets laden with the heavy scent of frankincense; or cruising – Sinbad-like – along a dramatic rugged coastline to find pristine coves, inlets and beaches? If so, a visit to Arabia is an experience like no other.
Here are our top five ‘Arabian nights’ style experiences that can be enjoyed in comfort and style. All are perfect are part of a family holiday, honeymoon, or a private customised trip.
Dining under the stars in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Escape from the modern world and experience the ancient and timeless traditions of the desert in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Here, at the luxurious tented Bespoke Hideaways Camp, the visitor may learn about the Bedouin way of life, indulge in soft adventure, or just sit back and admire the stunning desert vistas. In the evening, flaming torches are lit, and guests enjoy succulent Bedouin meals al fresco under the brilliant canopy of a starry sky. The camp has just six luxuriously appointed ensuite tents ensuring the exclusivity of your experience amongst a landscape described by T.E. Lawrence as “vast, echoing and God-like”.
Sunset safari at Al Maha, Dubai, UAE
Dubai’s stunning Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is the place to go if you want to have a luxurious Arabian desert resort experience, while enjoying spa treatments, fine dining, and a range of stimulating desert activities ranging from game drives to archery. Al Maha is situated deep with a private nature reserve amongst a magical desert dunescape. Each of the resort’s tented suites offers unsurpassed comfort, magnificent desert views, and a private pool. Perhaps my most memorable moment at Al Maha was reliving the experience of the desert caravans of old whilst on a sunset camel safari across the dunes.
Private dhow cruise from Zighy Bay, Oman
The adventures of Sinbad the sailor are some of the most memorable of the tales in the Arabian Nights. In northern Oman, the 21st Century ‘explorer’ may also take a voyage in a traditional Arabian dhow, and enjoy some of the most dramatic coastline in Arabia. Unlike the privations experienced by Sinbad, the modern seafarer who is lodged at one of the 79 pool-villas at the luxurious Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort, is able to journey in style. A first class lunch is prepared by an on-board chef; there is time for swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, and also the opportunity to watch playful dolphins before returning to the comforts of your resort at the end of a glorious day.
Immersion in an incense souq, Muscat, Oman
In few places is the atmosphere of the Arabian Nights as palpable as in the traditional souqs (markets) of Oman. Here, from dimly lit stores reminiscent of miniature Aladdin’s caves, Omanis dressed in elegant white flowing robes offer the wares of both orient and occident amidst an intoxicating atmosphere thickly laden with the scent of Frankincense – an incense that was once prized more highly than gold. Muscat’s timeless Muttrah souq is one of the best places to sample this uniquely Arabian atmosphere. The luxurious Al Bustan Palace Hotel is our tip as a base to explore Muscat.
Princely living at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Rumoured to have been the second most expensive hotel ever built, the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi epitomises both Arabian splendour and excess, and is the place to stay for an insight into the luxurious lifestyle of Arabian royalty. Set in 85 hectares of beautifully manicured gardens, this ultra opulent fantasy is bedecked with domes, clad with acres of polished marble, and hung with stunning chandeliers. An US$11 million Christmas tree once famously graced the hotel’s lobby! Dining is at a wide range of sumptuous venues, and the leisure facilities are exceptional. To maximise your Arabian palace experience we would recommend staying in one of the hotel’s magnificent Khaleej suites.
Andrew Loyd is Founder and Chairman of The Bespoke Travel Club.
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