Best hotels and hostels in Arabian Peninsula

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Northern Coast

    Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

    This resort complex comprises three kasbah-style hotels set around a beautiful shared beach and landscaped gardens. Al Waha Hotel is easygoing, family accommodation, accessed via a tunnel through the cliff; Al Bandar Hotel is the more business-oriented of the three hotels; while the sophisticated six-star Al Husn Hotel is perched on the headland with a private beach and complimentary afternoon tea. Meandering between the hotels, a lazy river offers a fun way of getting from one watering hole to another. The richly carpeted foyers, marble corridors and designer bedrooms and bathrooms in all three hotels make choosing one over the other a matter of whim. The resort includes some of the country’s top restaurants: the Bait Al Bahr (seafood), Samba (international buffet) and Shahrazad (Moroccan), and there's a range of low-key water sports on offer. Al Husn Hotel offers some interesting luxury tours, including a private yachting trip to Bandar Khayran (9am to 3pm Mondays) and an off-road drive through Wadi Arbeieen (9am to 2pm Thursday).

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Jebel Akhdar

    Alila Jabal Akhdar Oman

    This is one gorgeous hotel. Overlooking a dramatic rift in the mountain floor, the 86 luxury rooms of this refined hotel command views of the 2000m desert canyon below. Built of locally hewn basalt, with hints of the juniper wood for which the upper plateau of Jebel Akhdar is renowned, the resort lives up to its Sanskrit name, 'Surprise'. A falaj (irrigation channel) runs past the licensed Juniper Restaurant, which offers buffet and barbecue dining (OR15) from noon to 3pm (4pm on Fridays) and a fine dining à la carte menu (dishes around OR10) at other times (closes 11pm). An open fire roaring in the lobby takes the nip out of the high-altitude air, and a spa (OR45 for a one-hour therapeutic Balinese massage) helps ease the aches from wilderness hiking with local guides. A range of three-hour hikes can be organised through the Leisure Concierge (from OR15 per person) to the abandoned village of Sarab and beyond. There is a library sporting large slabs of polished fossilised coral from the jebel and a shop selling a few tasteful Omani crafts.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Muscat

    Al Bustan Palace

    Set in a desert oasis on a secluded bay ringed by rugged mountains, this sumptuous hotel was built as a venue for the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in 1985. Newly refurbished and remarkable for its enormous domed atrium, it's worth visiting to admire the building’s interior. More palace than hotel, rooms are a byword for Arabian-style chic and restaurants are top quality. A Six Senses Spa offers luxury treatments.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in United Arab Emirates

    Al Sahel Villa Resort

    Offering laid-back luxury with gazelles and peacocks grazing on the lawn out front, Al Sahel resort sits on the island's west, surrounded by the scrubland of the reserve, with fantastic wildlife-spotting at your doorstep. Each of the 30 safari-chic airy villas comes with thatched African-style roof, open-beam cathedral ceiling, four-poster bed and a wide, canvas-shaded terrace (many with private plunge-pool).

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Nizwa

    Nizwa Heritage Inn

    Comprising four, newly converted old townhouses, this characterful hotel (booked by email) is located immediately behind the souq and is helping to save Nizwa's old quarter from being abandoned. Rooms are dark, many without windows, but they offer – with their internal pillars, timbered ceilings, alcoves and Omani artefacts – a privileged glimpse into traditional life in this historic town.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Salalah

    Al Baleed Resort

    Wedged between beach and bird-filled lagoon, this beautiful spa resort is a study in refined elegance and landscaped luxury. A series of arches leads to a low-rise reception building wrapped around an infinity pool that appears contiguous with the Indian Ocean. Given the general cost of a stay, the one-bedroom villas with their own private pools represent the best value.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Oman

    Dunes by Al Nahda

    Many residents of Muscat are unaware that there are sand dunes just 45 minutes west of the capital, and this luxury camp has made the best of their hidden location. With an open-sided reception and restaurant surrounded by lily ponds, a sand-therapy unit and attractive rooms designed to resemble tents, this dune-top establishment makes for a peaceful retreat. With a day's notice, breakfast or a barbecue dinner (an extra OR15 per person) can organised at the top of a private dune. Activities include quad biking (from around OR20 per person per hour for a 100cc vehicle), camel rides (OR10 for 15 minutes), a one-hour visit to a camel farm (OR75 per vehicle), and a lesson in making shuwa – a local favourite involving marinated lamb, wrapped in banana leaves and slow 'roasted' underground in a sand pit (OR17). There are also opportunities to explore Wadi Abyad (OR40 per vehicle), famous for its pools of opaque white water. Access to Dunes involves 1km of gravel track from the expressway and is best attempted with a 4WD. Transfers from Muscat International Airport cost OR53.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Dubai

    Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa

    It may only be 65km southeast of Dubai, but Al Maha feels like an entirely different universe. Gone are the skyscrapers, traffic and go-go attitude. At this remote desert eco-resort, it’s all about getting back to some elemental discoveries about yourself and where you fit into nature’s grand design. Part of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) and Marriott owned, Al Maha is one of the most exclusive hotels in the UAE and named for the endangered Arabian oryx, which is bred as part of the DDCR’s conservation program. The resort’s 42 luxurious suites are all stand-alone, canvas-roofed bungalows with handmade furniture and private plunge pools. Each one has its own patio with stunning vistas of the beautiful desert landscape and peach-coloured dunes, punctuated by mountains and grazing white oryx and gazelles. Rates include two daily activities, such as a desert-wildlife drive, an archery session or a camel trek. Private vehicles, visitors and children under 10 are not allowed.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Sheikh Zayed Mosque Area

    Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

    This mammoth hotel, with one of the biggest pools we've seen in the UAE, a slice of private beach and rooms which come with big balconies and marble-clad bathrooms, is just the ticket for city breaks with lashings of sumptuous resort styling. With the caboodle of drinking and dining choices here, many struggle to even leave the leafy hotel grounds. The massive foyer is a bling-tastic merging of neo-Classical pillars, art-deco windows and Italian Renaissance decoration, while the vast outdoor area cocoons you in palm trees and gardens leading down to the sand. As well as being home to two of Abu Dhabi's foodie haunts, Li Jiang and Mijana, the restaurant hub of the Venetian Village, where you'll also find the Moroccan-styled ESpa, is a short stroll away. Kids are thoroughly looked after here with a good chunk of the pool shallow enough for tots to play, a great poolside play area and a kids' club.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Doha

    Banana Island Resort

    Choose from a number of uber-luxury rooms at this excellent private island retreat, including sea-view rooms, junior suites or private villas on stilts over the turquoise ocean (the villas have their own pool, boat jetty and private butler). Guests have use of plenty of facilities, including a cinema, mini-golf course and volleyball court. Extras include massages at the island's spa, and classes including yoga and meditation sessions, plus meals at the resort's Middle Eastern, Italian and American restaurants. Children will be well entertained with beach games and football, plus a kids club. With a phone call's notice, drivers with golf buggies will pick guests up and take them wherever they need to be on the island. Service is excellent, with the little details considered throughout, starting with dates and refreshments on the boat transfer to the resort. Boats leave for Banana Island from the Dhow Harbour in front of Souq Waqif and take 25 minutes (tip: book the sunset journey for hazy sky views).

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Doha

    Mondrian Doha

    The Mondrian, clad in thick metal mesh, is meant to evoke the image of an eagle's nest, and the radical design continues on the inside. With a black glossy staircase that leads to nowhere, gold eggs dotted around and a white-tree indoor forest, it has to be seen to be believed. Rooms include sand-dune-inspired carpets and designer vanity desks. All of the brilliantly wacky design creations are courtesy of Dutch powerhouse Marcel Wanders. Spectacular views over Doha from the rooms and kaleidoscopic rooftop pool and Skybar complete the experience; they gaze onto the snaking artificial waterways and spaghetti-like highways in the distance. Dining options at the hotel are world-class: choose from steakhouse Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Magnolia Bakery or Morimoto 's Japanese restaurant – all have striking design features that will amaze.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Abu Dhabi

    Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas

    From the expansive bronze-toned foyer with its silver sand-rose sculptures to the 50-sq-metre rooms with daybed-strewn balconies and bathtubs made for long soaking sessions, this is a subtly elegant retreat still within easy reach of the city. The infinity pool is flanked by overwater cabanas, while the white-sand beach is reached by an elevated boardwalk protecting the turtle nesting sites. Due to having this protected coastal dune system, the Park Hyatt has a resident marine biologist onsite who organises nature-themed activities for the kids' club as well as offering occasional environmental talks and activities for the entire family. If you're finding it hard to drag yourself away from this luxurious cocoon to explore Abu Dhabi's dining scene, the hotel is home to Mediterranean restaurant Beach House. With its rooftop bar and evening shisha on the terrace there's really no need to leave.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Oman

    Arabian Sea Motel

    This low-rise surfers lodge looks like a government school from a distance, but don't be put off: it's in a superb location at the top of the high-tide line. The sea-salted rooms have starched linen, huge windows, faded plasterwork and equestrian paintings that contrast with the desert exterior. Fresh seafood is on the menu daily (from OR4.5). A favourite with the surfing community thanks to the high waves in summer, the hotel (15km north of Al Ashkharah) is often full between May to October. For the rest of the year it goes into semi-hibernation, making it a peaceful retreat from which to explore the desert coastline. The highly accommodating staff can book a ticket (for those with their own transport) to Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve: for the night tour it's best to leave the hotel at 7.30pm for the 45-minute drive. Surfboards (OR15 per day) are available, and there's mini-golf and waterslides for the kids.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Al Hamra

    The View Resort

    This resort lives up to its name with panoramic views over Al Hamra basin, a dizzying 1400m below. Don't be put off by the cabins cantilevered over the drop: the spacious interiors offer an unparalleled vista from both luxury bed and bathtub. The 7.5km signposted ascent from Al Hamra is steep – 4WD is essential or hotel transfer costs OR25 return. With a temperature-controlled infinity pool that appears to hover in the sky and an upmarket restaurant with a 'pasta station', where the chef prepares Italian dishes in view of delighted diners, this resort is an attractive place to relax, which is just as well as there's almost nothing else to do. That said, there is a 1km walk from The View that leads to some interesting villages. Alternatively bikes are for hire (OR10 per hour) or book an onward itinerary through Zahara Tours, which owns the resort.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Hajar Mountains

    Misfah Guest House

    This tiny guesthouse – the first to bring tourism income to the village – is set within a beautiful plantation. It's housed in two old buildings, family heirlooms of the Al Abri family. Rooms are small but quaint, and all have air conditioning. Bring only what you need overnight as it's a 10-minute walk from the car park. Reservations are essential. One of the few places to sample genuine Omani home-cooked dishes, it's possible to call in just for lunch or dinner (OR5) if you book in advance. Call from the car park, and the guesthouse staff will meet you to ensure you find the way through a labyrinth of alleys, archways and plantations paths. If you're navigating the village on your own, look for signs for 'Misfah Old House'. Beware though: once you have descended through the village and entered the enchanted garden of date, lemon and mango trees, you won't want to leave.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in United Arab Emirates

    Hatta Fort Hotel

    It's the only hotel option in town, and it's a goodie. The stone-walled, red-tile-roofed chalets are surrounded by manicured lawns sprinkled with palm trees and tumbling bougainvillea. Inside the spacious chalets, lashings of white and natural stone exude a contemporary-countryside vibe while comfy loungers on the balconies offer up craggy Hajar Mountains views aplenty. Overlooking one of the resort's two pools, Café Gazebo (mains Dhs57 to Dhs99) does lunch and snacks until 7pm, while fine-dining restaurant Jeema (mains Dhs62 to Dhs220) opens for dinner from 6.30pm and sometimes has live entertainment. The hotel is super-popular with Dubai locals escaping the big city on the weekend, so unsurprisingly prices peak on Thursday and Friday nights. Book midweek – even in high season – and you may be able to score a bargain.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Jebel Shams

    Sama Heights Resort

    This delightful camp, attractively landscaped in sympathy with the wilderness setting, is thriving under new ownership. A range of accommodation is on offer, from goat-hair tents and small bungalows to a grand chalet that sleeps 10. There’s hot water, a restaurant and the chance to barbecue in the camp cave, while Jebel Shams' key sights are within walking distance. Situated at the start of the walking route to the summit of Jebel Shams (route W4, seven to 12 hours), Sama Heights Resort is perfectly placed for outdoor activities, and a branch of Husaak Adventures facilitates a number of off-the-beaten-track walking options. If hiking up 1000m to the summit of Jebel Shams (2990m) seems too much of an effort, the edge of Wadi Ghul is an easy stroll away. Transport from Al Hamra costs OR40 for a return trip.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Doha

    Sharq Village & Spa

    With its heritage architecture, exquisite desert landscaping and beach location, this is one superb hotel. The intimate, super-luxurious rooms with four-poster beds and diaphanous silken drapes are arranged around sand-coloured courtyards and cactus gardens. Lanterns, shadows dancing across the marble and Ali Baba pots bubbling with water all play their part in creating an Arabian Nights atmosphere. The agarwood-perfumed spa, with mysterious alleys leading to the treatment rooms, rounds off the decadent experience. The spa menu is extensive, with massage, hammam steam bath and exfoliation, beauty therapies and physical therapies on offer (treatments start from QR300). One thing's for sure, you won't want to leave the relaxation areas.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Salalah

    Salalah Beach Villas

    This welcoming family-style hotel, run by an amiable Tunisian manager who speaks English, Italian and French, has lovely views: the sea is so close you can taste it through the window. Walk off breakfast along the magnificent white sand and splash in the surf on calmer days. This is one of the few hotels in Oman where pets are welcome. This guesthouse is linked to the 65-room Beach Resort next door, which has the benefit of an all-day restaurant and beach sunbeds. Tours (from OR70 per car) and car hire (2WD/4WD from OR14/37, including 200km free mileage) are available, including a guided overnight camping trip to Al Hashman for OR140 per car.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Al Zahiyah & Al Maryah Island

    Southern Sun Abu Dhabi

    This shiny high-rise packs in the flair of a hotel twice the price from the moment you walk into the triple-height lobby hung with swooping contemporary lamps. A fresh, modern vibe runs through the rooms with a sprinkle of Middle Eastern design touches thrown in, and there's a buzzing social vibe throughout thanks to a bundle of popular bars and cafes. After a long day in the heat, cool off in the large rooftop pool or grab a beer in the bright and welcoming sports bar Blue Sky Lounge. Afterwards, move on to a cushioned nook in the hotel's own rather plush shisha tent for some apple-scented smoking.