- a version of this article appeared in Travel + Leisure
You don’t usually go to the desert looking for rain. But Sharjah, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, is full of surprises.
For years, visitors were hard-pressed to find a decent place to stay. That’s changing with the new Al Bait Sharjah (doubles from $460), a member of Leading Hotels of the World, which has views of gently rocking dhows docked on Sharjah Creek. The 53 guest rooms — spread across four historic houses once owned by prominent local families — come with four-poster beds, goblets brimming with Arabian dates, and access to a custom Mercedes available for chauffeured outings. Follow the alleyways between the interconnected residences to the on-site library and museum of Sharjah history. The hotel’s main restaurant serves dishes like camel, slow-braised for 24 hours. For more local specialties, another restaurant at the hotel serves Emirati fare family style — but the spiced prawns are so good you may not want to share. It’s a perfect example of the many delights the U.A.E. has to offer beyond its shiny cities.