Think you can’t get that “out of Dubai” feeling while still in the city? Think again. Desert Palm, a Per AQUUM retreat, is the first UAE retreat awarded membership of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and it’s easy to see why. The very modern hotel looks like something Frank Lloyd Wright would have loved to kick back in, but it also boasts lavish green spaces and polo fields, perfect for the 300 horses boarded on the property. Not a place where you’re going to run into a rogue bachelorette party, the hotel has only thirty-eight suites and pool villas, boasting terraces overlooking the polo fields and some with their own private gardens and pools. While you’ll daydream away with the help of avant-garde décor, 150 acres of lush surroundings and the sounds of bird life, you’ll still have a view of the Burj Khalifa from the hotel’s sweeping terraces. But don’t run off to The Dubai Mall just yet. There are four championship polo fields, a riding school, stables and plenty of walking trails at your disposal. Save the shopping for midweek and enjoy your luxurious getaway that’s just down the road.
The Spa, Pool & Gym
Floating beanbag chairs combined with a gorgeous swimming pool? We’d like to salute the relaxation genius who came up with that combination. For the kids, or kids at heart, we highly recommend the oversized buoyant beanbags that dot the hotel’s large rectangular pool. Flanking one of the many polo fields, the pool is long and deep enough to swim laps, but also pretty enough to just recline next to in a sun lounger and work on your tan. When you’re done soaking up some rays, head to the hotel’s Lime Spa, which offers healing therapies, saunas, steam rooms and cold rooms, relaxation and fitness and even organic cuisine. There are six spa suites where you can try our fave, the Eve Signature Facial, which features a paraffin wax mask, lymphatic drainage and acupressure (Dhs620 for 90min) or the Lime Cocoon with mineral salt and aromatic oil exfoliation and a choice of earth or ocean mud (Dhs495 for 75min). The spa also boasts rooms for therapeutic water and heat experiences plus a wellness boutique and a small gym.
The Restaurants & Bars
RARE: The name might be Rare, but you don’t have to order your steak that way! For carnivores, though, beef is the way to go at this European grill. You’ll be in culinary bliss if you opt for the Steak Rossini with foie gras (Dhs395). The Chervil Crusted Lamb Rack (Dhs250) is also mighty memorable. From indoors or on the terrace, you’ll get a view of the polo fields and Dubai skyline. A perfect complement to a good meal.
EPICURE: Head to the mod eatery for á la carte breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food is comfort food – think wood-fired pizzas and fried salmon – but our fave part is the take-away goodies from Epicure market like French cheeses. Love.
RED BAR & LOUNGE: Red looks like a gentleman’s lounge where kicking back with a vintage tipple is the perfect way to end the day. But don’t worry ladies, it’s not so “old boys’ club” that you won’t feel right at home! The dramatic terrace is perfect for a nightcap with live music on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
One of the perks of a small hotel is that the rooms are anything but. Desert Palm offers 13 Palm Suites (45 to 75sq m), four one-bedroom Pool Villas (198sq m), eight two-bedroom Pool Residences (528sq m) and the Presidential Villa Layali. All villas feature a private garden with a pool but even if you’re not splurging, the Palm Suites are mighty luxurious. With an open plan design, the king-size bed has a great view of the polo fields. Behind the bedroom area, there’s a sizable work space and a professional grade bar with enough cocktails and vino for you to throw a party in your suite! But our fave feature was the bedroom-size bathroom. The oversized rain shower begs for an hour-long shower and the half-egg bathtub is nice enough to spend the day in! If you can get yourself out of the tub, have afternoon tea on your private terrace overlooking that exotic plant known as grass.
Standard rack rate: Palm Suites from Dhs1,220, Pool Villas from Dhs3,350
Lime Intuitive Massage: Dhs395 for 60min
INFO: Desert Palm, Dubai, 04 323 8888, www.desertpalm.peraquum.com.
Check out our tour of a luxe Desert Palm Suite right here