Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

From beach trailers to houseboats: 9 unique Airbnb listings in the UAE

With staycations on the rise, here's some inspiration for an outside-the-box getaway in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman or Fujairah

From a converted lodge in Masafi to a trailer on the beach in Ajman, the UAE has some unique places to stay for anyone searching for a night away.

Many of these can be found on the accommodation listings website Airbnb, which has properties across all seven emirates on its virtual books. It's a good place to look if you fancy staying somewhere other than a hotel and, given the current climate, they naturally offer an element of social distancing. Many of them let you avoid check-in lines, shared elevators and enclosed public spaces.

From a New York-style loft in Dubai to a dog-friendly glamping site in Ras Al Khaimah, these nine locations might be the inspiration you need to plan your next trip away from home.

1. An authentic mountain lodge in Masafi

Al Qala Lodge in Masafi offers an overnight stay in a traditional Emirati house in the mountains. Courtesy Airbnb / Alqalaa Lodge
Al Qala Lodge in Hatta offers an overnight stay in a tradtional Emirati house in the mountains. Courtesy Airbnb

Al Qala Lodge in the Hajar Mountains is a good pick for anyone seeking a taste of traditional Emirati life. Featuring panoramic views across the mountains, this stone farmhouse can be exclusively yours for the night.

It’s recently undergone some renovation work and has a living room, kitchen and five bathrooms. You'll also find three outdoor lounge areas, ideal for an alfresco evening meal or barbecue.

Sleeping up to six guests across two bedrooms, this place retains many of the characteristics of traditional Emirati homes, so you can really get a feel for how people used to live in mountain towns. It's also right next to Flag Fort, a good place for photographs, and well placed for those looking to do some local sightseeing – just 10 minutes from Masafi Market and within walking distance of the Al Taiba village hiking trail.

Prices start from Dh701 per night.

2. Dog-friendly glamping in Ras Al Khaimah

Dog-friendly glamping in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy RAK Glamping
Dog-friendly glamping in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy RAK Glamping

If you’re a fur parent, then you’ll know the guilt that comes along with leaving your pet at home or in boarding. This dog-friendly glamping site in Ras Al Khaimah, however, alleviates that feeling as you can bring your pooch along. Set by some old stables and surrounded by nine acres of desert in the Duhaisah area of Ras Al Khaimah, Glamping RAK welcomes both two and four-legged guests.

The Bedouin-style campsite is in a great location for long dog walks (in the winter) or tackling some uneven terrain by mountain bike. There's also a peaceful koi pond where you can grab a lounger and while away a few hours soaking in the greenery, while the dogs cool off in the water.

Guests sleep in traditional Bedouin tents with air-conditioning that can accommodate up to four people. Inside, there’s a bathroom, a television and a mini fridge for storing drinks and snacks. There’s also a communal barbecue area and fire pit, plenty of horses and animals around and filtered water available on-site. Pet owners need to make sure their animals are vaccinated, toilet trained and must clean up after their pets.

The campsite is best reached by car and is about 15 minutes from the nearest beach and 30 minutes from Jebel Jais.

Rates start from Dh400 per night.

3. A chalet stay on an Abu Dhabi ranch

Stay at Al Wathba ranch, Abu Dhabi to reconnect with nature. Courtesy Airbnb
Stay at Al Wathba ranch, Abu Dhabi, to reconnect with nature. Courtesy Airbnb

Located in the heart of the Al Wathba desert, about 45 minutes from Abu Dhabi City, this working horse ranch offers visitors a glimpse into rural life in the UAE.

Guests will sleep in one of seven studio chalets that are basic, but have everything you need for a cosy stay. Expect comfy beds, a kitchen area and private bathrooms. In the evenings, the ranch staff typically gather on an elevated viewing deck to have dinner and watch the sun go down. Guests are invited to join, and the ranch can also arrange a private barbecue for groups.

Staying here means that you'll have horses, camels and other farm animals almost on your doorstep. You can book riding lessons or simply sit back and reconnect with nature.

Overnight stays cost from Dh250.

4. This quirky houseboat in Abu Dhabi

If it’s quirky you seek, this houseboat in Abu Dhabi delivers. The wooden-clad studio houseboat is filled with retro American decor, Pop Art prints and faux fur furniture. Inside, there’s plenty of space for two guests with a living/dining area, private bathroom and outdoor viewing platform.

Settle down on the pink rocking chair in front of the patio doors to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Gulf – it’s easily the main draw of this property. During the day, you can escape the heat in front of the huge television or while away time on the PlayStation as the water laps away outside your front door.

Located near Mangrove Village, the location is close enough to the city if you want to check out some restaurants or Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before returning to your houseboat for the evening. This listing is also part of Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean policy, which means the hosts have committed to rigorous cleaning protocols which include leaving the boat vacant for 72 hours between guests. There’s also the option to bring pets on board; speak to the host if you’re keen to do so.

Stays start from Dh600 per night, and there is a buy three, get one night free policy during summer.

5. A family-friendly villa retreat in Fujairah

This family-friendly retreat in Fujairah is nestled in the mountains in Masafi. Courtesy Hidden Valley Resort / Facebook 
This family-friendly retreat in Fujairah is nestled in the mountains in Masafi. Courtesy Hidden Valley Resort / Facebook

Gather friends and family and make for this villa in Masafi. Hidden Valley Resort is wedged between the mountains that straddle the border between Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, making the perfect hideaway for rest and relaxation. The temperatures here are typically cooler than those in the rest of the emirates and the farm house can sleep up to 16 people across three bedrooms. Decor is basic but the house has everything you need including three bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and indoor dining space.

The retreat’s dramatic mountain backdrop will have you craving the outdoors – and there are plenty of places to enjoy it. Take your pick from the majlis area, the fire pit or the tables and chairs set up around the gardens for alfresco dining. There’s also a large swimming pool, a pond and water features. Children, meanwhile, will love the balcony swing, play area and inflatable water slides.

Rates start from Dh1,950 per night.

6. This beachfront trailer in Ajman

This trailer in Ajman is right on the beach. Courtesy Caravana AlZorah / Facebook
This trailer in Ajman is right on the beach. Courtesy Caravana AlZorah / Facebook

Get back to basics right on the beach with a stay in this trailer. Located just 40 minutes from Dubai, Caravana Alzorah is on a private shoreline with barbecue facilities and RV vans that can be rented out for the evening.

Sleeping up to six people, each trailer is parked right on the beach meaning you have a little slice of shoreline to yourself. Inside, there’s a small bathroom, a bed and bunk beds, as well as a flat-screen television and kitchenette. Outside, there are sun loungers as well as a barbecue and dining area. There’s even a private plunge pool to cool off in.

For anyone that's keen to try their hand with a rod, there are also good fishing opportunities nearby.

Prices start from Dh1,498 per caravan, per night.

7. A mountaintop chalet in Ras Al Khaimah

7. Escape it all with a stay at this stone mountaintop villa in Ras Al Khaimah
This stone house is atop a Ras Al Khaimah mountain

If you’ve got a head for heights and a craving for solitude, then you might want to consider a stay in this mountaintop chalet in Ras Al Khaimah. Quite possibly Airbnb’s highest UAE listing, the stone house is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres – nearly 400 metres higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. It’s nestled near the top of Yanas Mountain – a rugged peak towards the Omani border.

Accommodation is basic – think plastic chairs and dorm-style sleeping quarters – but it’s probably all you’ll need after a day of hiking. There’s also sleeping space for more than 30 people if you don’t mind sharing three rooms between you.

Outside, a seated viewpoint with a barbecue area (bring your own firewood) makes the most of the house’s elevated position, giving you a place to eat while you drink in the never-ending mountainscapes and boulder-strewn terrain.

It gets very dark at night, with no light pollution for miles, so it's a great place to stargaze. Ideally, you need a 4x4 to reach the property comfortably and don’t forget to pack enough supplies for the duration of your stay. There’s no such thing as popping to the shop from this house.

Rates start from Dh2,950 per night.

8. This NYC-style loft apartment in Dubai

8. Get a taste of the Big Apple at this NYC-style loft in Dubai 
NYC-style duplex loft in Dubai's JBR

If travel bans have cancelled a trip Stateside, book a night in this New York-inspired loft apartment and you’ll feel like you’ve made it to the Big Apple – at least for one evening.

Complete with sea views that stretch all the way to Atlantis, The Palm, this duplex apartment in JBR sleeps up to four adults in two bedrooms. Inside, a fusion of exposed ducts, iron pipes, glass walls and wooden partitions transport you to the heart of Manhattan. There’s a big lounge and dining area for entertaining, and a fully equipped kitchen as well as a balcony for the cooler months. The spa-like bathroom is a real statement, complete with an oversized Buddha sculpture.

The building also has a swimming pool and a hot tub, but they’re shared with the neighbours. If you prefer, the beach is right across the street, as well as JBR’s countless restaurants and bars.

Rates start from Dh600 per night.

9. This ornate equestrian fort in Ras Al Khaimah

This Ras Al Khaimah equestrian club can be rented out and has a kids play area, traditional majlis and huge garden with stonework seating area and several other places to enjoy the outdoors. Courtesy Airbnb
This Ras Al Khaimah equestrian club has several places to enjoy the outdoors. Courtesy Airbnb

This Arabian-style fortress and equestrian club in Ras Al Khaimah is truly unique. It will make an impression from the moment you enter the elaborately decorated archway, with stable-like security huts on either side and a series of horseshoe-shaped windows.

There are eight bedrooms – sleeping 16 adults – all of which have big beds, plenty of wardrobe space and obligatory horse artwork or ornaments. There’s also a large lounge, big kitchen and multiple bathrooms. Outside, there’s a play area, majlis and a huge garden with a vegetable patch, circular stonework seating area and several other cosy spots to relax.

The equestrian club is home to more than 100 horses, so you can watch pony rides and lessons taking place in the sand-covered equestrian ring.

Book the entire resort from Dh3,059 per night.

Updated: July 26, 2020 09:11 AM

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