Desert Palm, Dubai: Hotel Review

Dubai hotels. On the beach with a city backdrop or hidden away in the desert, right? But Desert Palm ( is neither. It’s part country club part boutique hotel (perhaps slightly more the former than the latter) on a leafy polo estate, less than 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Dubai.

The 160-acre estate is owned by Ali Albwardy, patron of the Dubai Polo Team. Polo is Albwardy’s principal concern – three prestigious tournaments are held here and there are practice matches three times a week – but he has built a number of private residences and a hotel so that fellow enthusiasts can share his passion.

The hotel – managed by Per Aquum – is small, with only 18 rooms and 6 villas plus 13 private residencies. It’s all very slick and contemporary, with a fantastic Lime spa (even 10-goalers need a massage) and extremely good food in its Rare restaurant. There’s a pool with a sun terrace and even a small patisserie. Staff are delightful and – nice touch – are kitted out in polo shirts.

We arrived just as a practice match was about to start. We were whisked down to the polo field (there are four; the main one right by the hotel) and served afternoon tea as we eyed up the polo players. After the match (I was distracted by the contents of the cake stand and confess I have no idea who won) we visited Albwardy’s ponies in their breeze-cooled stables.

I stayed in a Palm Suite on the first floor. Its location above the open-sided terrace-lounge meant that it was a little noisy during the day and early evening, but it did have a grandstand view of the main polo field. No balcony but at least the windows opened and the minimalist, almost masculine room, was very comfortable.

There’s a riding school here, too, and guests can take private lessons or go for a gentle hack. I don’t ride and I’m a bit nervous of horses at close quarters, but the sight of a horse and its rider tripping across the misty horizon early one morning at Desert Palms was absolutely enchanting.

You don’t have to be horse-mad to appreciate Desert Palms. It would work well as a base if you want sunshine and a pool, but find the thought of a holiday among skyscrapers unappealing.

What it costs from £245 per night, room only.

Read my Telegraph review at