Tilal Liwa Hotel – A tranquil oasis on the edge of the Rub al Khali

Perched on a rise overlooking the vast landscape of the Empty Quarter is this sublime Arabic style, eco-friendly family resort just waiting for you.

The Tilal Liwa Hotel in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi is one of those hidden gems that we all are in search of but rarely seem to find. Perched at the top of a rise overlooking the sands of the Rub Al Khali is this quaint, Arabic fortress like structure engulfed in flowering shrubs and greenery, waiting with open arms to welcome its guests.

Just under a two-hour drive form Abu Dhabi along the Sheikh Khalifa highway we turn on the famous Million Road past the camel racing stables, and soon we are in the portico of the hotel being warmly greeted in true Bedouin style with dates and a cup of ghawa.

We enter the stylish lobby dominated by a huge central podium with cushions to sit on all around and a set of huge ceramic urns in the middle which have little fountains on the top, very stylish.

The reception is to the left, it’s all done up in classic Arabic style with dark wood finishes, metal filigree lamps and ochre coloured walls textured to resemble a mud finish, we instantly felt at home and loved it.

The check in was swift, and we are soon off to our room, the hotel is laid out in a classic U shape with the lobby in the middle tying together the two wings of suites on each side with the pool and garden in the middle and a fantastic archway at the end that delicately frames the desert beyond for you in a strikingly beautiful manner.

The Rooms

Our room is on the first floor overlooking the courtyard with captivating views of the infinite pool and the desert beyond. It’s a good size room with a lovely balcony, the furnishings are warm and inviting in the earthly desert tones and there is a good size bathroom, sparkling clean and fully stocked.

We rush to the balcony and one sight of the majestic green pool with the vastness of the desert beyond neatly framed by the arch makes us stop and admire the beauty of the setting.

Down below along the pool are groupings of loungers and recliners, there is a full size floor chess board just under our window that we have to go play on.

We settle in, have a quick shower and are off to the pool and to explore the different activities on offer at the resort.

The Activities

This is a family oriented and pet friendly resort with lots of interesting activities on offer for the entire family and the pets. For the kids there is a huge indoor play area with lots of games and activities and also an outdoor area with swings and slides under sun shades.

The adults can indulge in a variety of on site activities of which the quad bikes are the most popular, you can rent for half hour slots, and you are free to go explore around the dunes surrounding the hotel.

The hotel will also arrange camel rides and desert safaris that take you deep in the desert in specially equipped 4×4’s under the capable command of seasoned drivers who will give you the thrills of a lifetime sliding and slipping across the huge dunes. This is a must-try.

The hotel also has a spa which has a sauna and massage facilities to relax and rejuvenate your body and soul.

The main feature of the hotel is the huge pool, its turquoise green waters are mesmerizing and the way it has been incorporated in the central courtyard with the huge arch at one end where if you swim up to it, you will be able to see for miles across the empty desert.

The full size chess board on the floor is another huge attraction we loved, quite a few hours were spent with drinks in hand playing rounds of chess amidst peals of laughter and merriment.

Another major plus point at the hotel is that it is fully pet friendly, so you don’t have to leave your dogs and cats behind if you decide to come over, there is a delightful pet area for them as well.

The Dining

Tilal Liwa Hotel is a fully licenced property that offers two very captivating restaurants and a bar that is worth stopping by for a few drinks in the evening.

Al Badiya

Al Badiya is the all day dining restaurant situated off the main lobby on the right. It serves international cuisine, and they have a superb breakfast buffet for guest on all days of the week.

While we were there, a little birdie whispered there are plans afoot to offer a weekend brunch soon as well, so do watch this space for further information on this.

We enjoyed a fantastic breakfast buffet on Friday morning and loved it, read full review here.

Al Liwan

Al Liwan is the delightful little pool bar and restaurant just off the side of the pool. Inside, there is a small bar counter and a few groupings of tables for those who prefer being indoors.

The magic of this place is all outdoors and at night. There is a huge courtyard which is colourful lit at night, giving the impression you are in some fabled Arabian wonderland with food to match and shisha to smoke.

On the weekends they light a fire in the massive fire pit on one side and there is a superb desert BBQ available where they will lay out an Arabic style seating area for you in the sand.

The team will then set up a fire pit for you and then a variety of marinated meat, seafood and vegetables is offered, which you get to grill yourself, to your liking and enjoy while you watch a movie on a huge screen.

All this, in the desert sands, under a sky full of stars is something that must be experienced, read full review here.


On the opposite side of the lobby is Layali, an intimate bar that overlooks the pool area, offering exquisite cocktails, finger food and full meals. It’s a perfect place for a pre-dinner drink or to hang out late at night with friends and family. The ambiance is cosy, and we really loved the Wasabi Prawns and the tandoori shrimp skewers.

The Verdict

What can we say, Tilal Liwa Hotel offers one of those rare experiences that are done to perfection. The hotel is just under two hours of pleasant driving on the open Sheikh Khalifa Highway with a speed limit of 160 KM PH.

The hotel is truly a dream family getaway, it’s not too big to be intimidating but just right and the charm of the Arabian hospitality, spotless clean room and great food combine to make this a perfect weekend getaway or staycation option for residents and visitors alike.

We went over after a long, stressful week, and we came back totally relaxed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the world.

The combination of great pricing, exceptional hospitality, variety of activities, great food and superb ambiance are absolutely unmatched, we highly recommend a stay.

The Contact

For enquiries and reservations, please call +971 2 894 6111. The hotel is a participating member of the Darna Rewards program, so you can use and earn points here as well.

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