You’re staying at a hotel, you’ve got a bit of downtime, you’re looking for something to do.
There’s a 500-plus vinyl collection on the first floor, or a Walkman station if cassettes are more your vibe. Maybe you want to go for a drive, so you rent one of the hotel’s MINIs or cruise ride around on one of the Schindelhauer Bikes that are hanging around the hotel.
Fancy the movie ‘Ghost’? Have a crack at pottery making (hopefully without cracks, but hopefully with a Patrick Swayze-like hunk guiding your hands) in the pottery and artist studio. Got an idea for a podcast? Record it in the podcast studio.
If you’re wondering if a hotel offering all this exists – it does. The 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central packs a lot in – and we mean a lot.
What’s incredibly cool about this joint is how extra it all is – in many ways a reflection of its location. The sheer breadth of activities available to each person is so OTT, and so Dubai.
There’s a Farmstay Suite (including hammock and double rainfall shower). The Medium Bedouin draws influence from when Bedouins once resided in Dubai. On top of a luxurious king-size bed there’s a unique rainfall shower in the middle of the room (wtf?) and a hanging chair to kick back and chill.
For true Dubai glam you’ve got to experience the Hakawati Suite. Hakawati means storyteller in Arabic and while that theme features throughout One Central, it’s in this suite that it goes to another level. There’s the “Sheikh-sized” TRIPLE king bed, a double bath, two bars, 10-seat dining area, fireplace and for when it’s time to party – a DJ corner and dancefloor. The suite also interconnects with two additional bedrooms through a secret staircase. Yes, all in one suite. This is Dubai after all.
There’s obviously a rooftop pool with a Pool Bar, and even more obviously a cinema. Tough to leave when the suite is that good. You can request to have a trunk delivered to you with old-school VHS tapes, vinyls, a typewriter and polaroids to help you really disconnect and tap into your creative side.
There are sand dunes, and then there are the mighty kahunas you’ll find in Oman.
Like the Ramlat Jadilah, a 455-metre peak that’s the tallest in the world.
Magic Camps is the closest to an oasis you’ll likely ever get. And by that we mean a luxury glamping experience in a world-renowned location NOT meeting the Gallagher brothers somewhere in the desert.
You can choose to stay at the permanent campsite in the Wahiba Sands region, or opt for an even more intrepid experience by choosing your own location to explore. Pretty cool.
Wealth and skyscrapers are probably your first thought when it comes to Abu Dhabi, but Saadiyat Island is proof that there’s heaps (read: HEAPS) more to it than this.
Think epic beaches, stunning wildlife, world class restaurants and a museum to rival some of the world’s best. All on the one island!
Bet you didn’t know that?
Here’s get lost’s top five from Saadiyat Island:
1. Take it really easy on Saadiyat’s pristine, white beaches
One thing that a lot of people don’t understand about Abu Dhabi is that the beaches are absolutely elite. None better than Saadiyat Beach, which has a well-deserved reputation as one the best beaches in the Emirates, accessed via a wood boardwalk in order to protect the beach’s native wildlife.
It’s also home to an uber cool beach club https://www.saadiyatbeachclub.ae/home
2. Unwind at Nurai Island
Alright, Nurai Island might technically be a different island to Saadiyat, but it’s so close, and so damn beautiful, that we have to include it. It’s only a ten-minute boat ride over calm waters, and we doubt you’ll ever stay anywhere more romantic than this private island. This is Emirati opulence meeting romance. https://www.nuraiisland.com/
3. Marvel at the wonderful wildlife
Saadiyat Island is a protected haven for wildlife and marine life. The island is home to animals you’ve never heard of, like the Arabian gazelles, graceful beasts that are as cool as their name would suggest, and are often spotted just cruising about the gaff, as if on a Sunday stroll, every day. If you’re lucky you might spot a Hawksbill turtle which seasonally nest on Saadiyat’s pristine beach. By the beach, bottlenose dolphins make frequent appearances and there is a kaleidoscope of vibrant birds to be spotted, if you are of a more aviary sort of inclination.
Saadiyat Island is home to the iconic Louvre…no not that one. With stunning architecture and a thought-provoking collection of modern art, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is understandably drawing people from all over the world. It takes a lot for a building to do that but you’ll get why when you walk through the doors of this place. https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/
A 14-year-old-boy pointed his gun at me, as I crouched nervously on my haunches.
We were squatting with about 20 others in a circle while the leader, a smartly dressed man with a beard, conducted things from the centre of the ring. There were about 200 other men in the room.
A few had warned us not to go to Iran.
I thought of this as we waited to see how the situation would unfold. I looked at Henri, who was doing well to conceal his terror. We were petrified at being called into the middle, as there was just no way we could possibly match this dancing, all sinuous, affectionate and enthusiastic – like some troupe of Middle Eastern M.C Hammers.
Iranian weddings are lit.
The circle was filled with guests at the wedding we’d been invited to, and the smartly dressed man was the groom, a cousin of Hamid, the friend we’d made in Isfahan. The 14-year-old boy’s gun was his fingers twisted into the shape of a gun, which he would occasionally point at me in fits of laughter until I returned fire in a game that lasted all night, although I’m still not sure of its meaning. Right now the groom was bringing individuals up one by one to dance with him in front of everyone.
It is worth mentioning that we had only met Hamid two days earlier, in cliche fashion: over a cup of chai in his carpet shop. His willingness to acquire extra invitations for two white westerners he’d only just met, with no commercial gain on his end, was our first introduction to the famed level of Iranian hospitality.
Isfahan is a busy city with a population of a couple million. Stunning Persian architecture line the streets in the city centre, while endless sand dunes flank the outskirts, where camping, sandboarding and trekking are all popular.
Based on a family’s level of conservatism, weddings here are generally (after a brief but extravagant ceremony) split into two parties based on gender. We’d watched at the start of the night as the bride and groom walked down a makeshift aisle to fireworks and flares, before dramatically releasing two white doves into the night sky. Shortly after we said goodbye to the girls, who disappeared into a separate hall to us.
Women and men split into two seperate rooms after the walk down the aisle.
What followed was six hours of delectable food, wild dancing and selfies, as we came to terms with our celebrity status at the event. Happy and gregarious Iranian men came from everywhere to introduce themselves, hugging and kissing and welcoming us to Isfahan. It seemed everyone wanted to dance with us, to know what we did for a living and to tell us about their relative in Sydney.
After our turn dancing in the middle we were beckoned over to the table of Imam, a tall and mischievous looking character who was probably the least conservative of Hamid’s endless line of cousins. With a dangerous look in his eye he reached into his jacket and pulled out no less than 20 small cucumbers, placing them on the table. This seemed extraordinarily random on face-value, but our modus operandi by this stage was to go with it.
The cucumbers turned out to be chasers for arak, a lethal home-brew spirit which I found almost undrinkable, but ended up drinking quite a lot of. While alcohol is illegal nationwide, a blind eye is turned to occasions behind closed doors like this.
When the DJ’s eclectic mix of Arab-disco and Pitbull (he truly is Mr. Worldwide) concluded we filed out of the building, waving goodbye to the happy couple as they got into their car and drove off. End of the night, it would seem.
This however, proved to be a false conclusion. With Hamid at the wheel, and eight grown men packed into a tiny Fiat, we sped off after the newlyweds in a convoy of around 30 cars, swerving and maneuvering at 100kph and waving white towels out of the window on a highway. Lanes became obsolete in a game where the aim seemed to be to get as close to the bride and groom’s chariot as possible without touching it. Every 10 minutes or so we would all pull over to the side of the road, or down a sandy back alley, for some more dancing and fireworks before piling back into Hamid’s car for another game of cat and mouse.
The race ended at the bride’s mother’s house, where (after more fireworks and dancing) an unlucky sheep was slaughtered in the name of love, a sacrifice the two guests at the wedding certainly didn’t see coming.
In the middle of nowhere, and without any idea of how to get home, we turned around to find our taxi driver from the start of the night ready to take us home – having waited for six hours and kept up with us in the speedy procession. We might have been surprised, but by now we were getting used to that feeling.
Walking on water: no longer restricted to biblical characters.
Kempinski Floating Palace will become the world’s first floating sea resort, to be built in Dubai (or rather, in the sea flanking Dubai).
It’s a case of another day, another extraordinary thing happening in the UAE; the resort will feature 12 luxury villas connected by pontoons: each with two floors, a roof terrace and infinity pool, large panoramic windows and all the technical features of a smart home.
The villas are equipped with solar panels and are designed to be environmentally friendly. Cruising at a maximum speed of 6 nautical miles, you’re not going anywhere fast, so allay those fears of floating away.
The resort won’t open to the public until 2023. But you can bet we’ll be swimming there when it does.
Saudi Arabia has been emerging as a post-Covid travel hotspot in recent times, throwing money into left-field projects including an offshore oil rig resort/theme park, and the world’s fastest rollercoaster.
The House Hotel Jeddah City Yard represents a slightly more traditional way of attracting tourism: by building a bloody beautiful (read: stunning) luxury hotel.
Having only opened in late-September 2021, the hotel is arguably the hottest stay in Jeddah, a town with no shortage of heat in itself. Cool down in the stunning, shaded pool, located on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city.
Despite being located in the upmarket Al Rawdah district, you’d have reason to not leave the complex at all during your stay, given the plethora of food, entertainment and wellness options at your disposal (this is despite being a boutique, mid-sized hotel of 114 rooms).
The hotel is SO aesthetically pleasing; combining Saudi sandstone with minimalistic architecture that wouldn’t look out of place in Scandanavia. No exercises in over-extravagance here.
And while Saudi Arabia mightn’t have been at the top of your list in terms of travel destinations, we’re tipping you’ll be hearing of more and more people heading there over the next few years. Tell ’em about this place.
The Rig (no, we’re not referring to you) is on it’s way.
An offshore oil rig in the Arabian Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is set to be turned into a massive theme park and hotel, in a move we bet the original builders of the rig did not see coming.
The 1.6 million-square-foot behemoth will feature 800 hotel rooms across three hotels, 11 restaraunts, swimming pools, an ultra-luxury hotel and super-yacht marina.
Backers of The Rig are lauding it as the “world’s first tourism destination inspired by offshore oil platforms”, an admittedly fairly niche category.
It will also feature an extreme theme park, featuring super fast rollercoasters (the world’s fastest is currently being built just outside of Riyadh) as well as bungee jumping, zip-lining, aquatic sporting adventures and skydiving.
How many times have you been staying somewhere and thought: “Yes, this is nice, but what about oil drilling?” Well, the good news is there will be practical lessons in using drilling machinery, plus information on the industry itself.
While no opening date has been announced and there isn’t a great level of detail on the hotel, the theme park component of the rig looks absolutely lit – check out the video below:
With its blockbuster mountain backdrops, expansive canyons, crystal clear waters and endless ochre deserts, it’s hard to fathom how Oman has continued to remain under the radar. But it’s not just the great outdoors that begs to be explored. Hanging off the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman’s capital Muscat was one of the most important trading ports in the Indian Ocean – a maritime legacy that still colours life in the city today. Muscat’s stately mosques also demand attention; these extravagant edifices are the centrepieces of their community, with no expense spared in their decoration. The towns and cities that freckle the desert plains and mountain peaks – hiding storied adobe forts, rivers of whitewashed houses and time-honoured traditions – invite exploration too.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, the brand-new Six Senses Shaharut Luxury Resort in Israel overlooks the historic Negev Desert, a key outpost for the Roman Empire and before that, a place of religious importance that is mentioned more than once in the bible.
Today it is a place to regenerate, with poolside villas giving visitors the feeling of their very own private desert oasis. There is also a spa with six treatment rooms, an alchemy bar full of natural wellness options, and two more common pools.
If you’re able to tear yourself away from the comfort of the retreat, there are cultural experiences, stargazing sessions, camel treks and floating in the Dead Sea on offer.
Fresh, local and seasonal food will make you feel like Ottolenghi is cooking for you every night and in true Israeli style, every meal is a celebration. Shakshuka for days.
Dubai might be a short stopover for most but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the confines of a luxury hotel.
Floating at sunrise over the pristine dunes of the Arabian Desert is only part of one experience you should consider; combine falconry, a desert vintage Land Rover safari, delicious Bedouin breakfast, camel ride and you have the perfect day in Dubai.
The morning starts an hour before the sun rises and the air is still and tranquil. As the balloons climb above the Dubai Desert the views of the Hajjar Mountains and Oman are stunning. Gently drifting at around 10,000 – 15,000 feet a falcon (Dubai’s national bird) entertains the group with its flying prowess and obedience circumnavigating several balloons to return at full speed to snatch a piece of meat from it handler’s glove. As the balloon slowly descends onto the soft dunes, a team of vintage Land Rovers awaits to chariot you across the bumpy sand to the Bedouin breakfast that awaits.
Upon arrival at a lavish traditional majilis you’ll enjoy a five-star a la carte breakfast including shakshuka, salmon, halloumi cheese, fresh fruits and chilled mint tea. After breakfast to aid your digestion, you’ll partake in a little camel ride out on the dunes. Forget shopping and the malls experience Dubai from outside the hotel!