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Al Bait Sharjah

Corniche St - Sharjah - United Arab Emirates
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Al Bait Sharjah

Why we love it: the country’s first five-star resort blends heritage and luxury into a masterpiece set in its Art Capital

- Camel-milk ice cream with pistachios and rose petals at the ice cream shop
- Also contains a spa, hammam, library, museum and cigar lounge
- A helipad, plus a fleet of Mercedes, including a 1967 limousine model

The review: One of the United Arab Emirates’ seven cities, Sharjah shares customs, cuisine and the splendid Arabian coastline with Dubai, just to the south. But it has one big twist: no alcohol.

That didn’t stop Al Bait, the country’s first luxury resort, from opening its doors in late 2018. The boutique property sits along a canal in the heart of old Sharjah, a tangle of whitewashed, coral-brick buildings from the early 19th-century. Steps away lies the Souq Al Arsah traditional bazaar, the oldest in the UAE. Bedouins once tethered their camels and gathered there; today tailors, perfumers and shops snuggle into the vaulted chambers, as camel-milk cappuccinos scent the air.

The hotel sits amid this walkable heritage area, but remains aloof from it. Lantern-lit alleyways connect its five historic buildings, once inhabited by prominent families, and also newer structures. Hundreds of antiquarian and contemporary books pack the library, which occupies the Ibrahim Al Midfa heritage house, along with a small museum and a cigar lounge open only to the resort’s guests. The property has two restaurants, one focused on Arabic dishes rich in saffron, turmeric and cardamom, and the other fusing Emirati, Asian and western flavors.

Al Bait has 53 rooms and suites, starting with deluxe rooms. Expect lavish carpets and tapestries, along with antique-style furnishings and touches like brass fixtures and black marble basin sinks in the bathrooms. Heritage rooms overlook the traditional inner courtyard, complete with greenery and a water fountain. Celebrating? Book the grand suite, 1,098 square feet with a four-poster bed sprawling under classic wood ceilings.