Bab Al Shams: A cheaper but less exclusive alternative to Al Maha, Bab Al Shams is a luxury hotel in the middle of the dunes. This grid of low-rise buildings made from pre-scratched, crumbling mock-sandstone is filled with hidden corridors and secret stairwells: rooms open directly onto the sands, while a swimming pool, spa and four restaurants cater to guests’ needs. The range of activities isn’t as extensive as at Al Maha (and mainly revolves around desert excursions), but there is a well-equipped children’s centre, which should keep your ankle-biters entertained. At night, enjoy a sunset shisha at Al Sarab bar or try out the Al Hadheerah desert restaurant, which offers a Disneyfied Arabian experience complete with belly dancer, band and some fairly potent shisha. Call 04 809 6100 for more information.