The Nest by Sonara is without doubt one of the most luxurious ways to spend a night in the Arabian desert. Hidden in the dunes of the stunning Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, you will discover the nests that are created by an award-winning architect and that will cater for the most demanding hotel guest…in the middle of the desert. This is no camping or glamping, but pure indulgence in one of the most unique locations of Dubai.
Location & Hotel
The Nest by Sonara was created in the Dubai dunes by a company called Nara. Nara is the brainchild of Stephanie Reichenbach, who stepped into the business of hospitality after a career in banking, out of passion for the desert and the ambition to give everyone the chance to experience a genuine, stylish, eco-friendly desert camp. For the name of her company, Reichenbach found inspiration in the names of her four sons : Neil, Adam, Ryan and Adrian. Her first endeavour was a sharing camp concept with a desert restaurant called Sonara. Not far away from Sonara, The Nest followed.
The Nest by Sonara is located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which is the first national park in the Emirates and which occupies about five percent of the surface of Dubai, covering two hundred and twenty-five square kilometres. There are a lot of threatened flora and fauna species in that environment and the reserve has been created for the protection of those endangered species and for the conservation of the natural desert habitat and heritage. The preservation has started in 2004 and the reserve is now home to more than fifty plant species, one hundred and twenty birds and forty-three mammals and reptiles. You will not easily forget the wonderful experience of looking wild oryxes and gazelles in the eyes, a stone throw away from your luxury desert accommodation. The Nest by Sonara gives you the possibility to spend the night in this gorgeous piece of nature, without sacrificing any of the comfort you would expect from a luxury hotel room.
If you decide to make the journey by car to The Nest, you should head to the gate of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which you will find after a five minutes drive off the Al Margham exit on Al Ain Road. At the gate you will be welcomed by the friendly staff of The Nest, who will drive you through the desert to the location of the camp. We chose for the other option, which is a pick up in the city centre of Dubai by a private driver of The Nest. The driver is amazing and shares an incredible amount of information about the reserve and The Nest, so that you know perfectly what to expect once you arrive at your destination.
Even though the real experience only starts once you arrive at the area where the nests are built, the drive from the entrance of the reserve to The Nest is already an experience in itself. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is simply stunning and while you are taking in the incredible views of the endless sandplains, you can hardly believe that the lively city of Dubai is less than an hour’s drive away. Suddenly in the heart of the desert, also known as the middle of nowhere, you reach the location where Reichenbach created her unique, extraordinary concept around nesting. All around you, you will discover fourteen nests, which blended completely in the Arabian desert. Due to the design and the way they are built into the dunes, you will hardly notice them. Upon arrival, the very attentive and friendly staff will bring you and your luggage for the night to your own nest.
Rooms, Suites & Villa’s
There are no rooms, suites or villas at The Nest but fourteen amazing nests, created by award-winning architect Gianni Ranaulo. The nests, which look absolutely gorgeous from the outside, almost completely disappear in the desert sand and create the feeling that you are housed in a luxury, futuresque camp on the moon. Each nest consists out of a comfortable bedroom area, a private en-suite bathroom with shower, an outdoor majlis for enjoying the sumptuous sunset and your own dedicated Mudeef. Even though the luxurious kind of room you are in, could make you easily forget that you are in the middle of the desert, the team behind Nara created lots of great accents in the room that remind you of at which unique location you are. However, that is only required when you are standing with your back to the entrance of the room. The front part of the nests, is completely made out of glass and enables an unobstructed view of the amazing reserve that is surrounding you. The nests have standard a double bed and an additional one can be added upon request, so that the room can cater for two adults and two children. For the selection of your nest, you can choose between dune view, sunrise view or sunset view.
We had the privilege to spend one night at The Nest. The whole setup in the middle of the desert is truly magical. The feeling of sitting on your private terrace, next to the open fire and for the rest seeing or hearing no other souls, is frankly an unbelievable experience that will not be forgotten fast. Once you decide enough stars have been counted and you enter your room, you will find literally everything you need for a perfect night in the desert. The beds are very comfortable and are surrounded by a nice sitting area and a small desk. The bathroom is open and has a double sink, a shower and a toilet. All the necessary amenities are available, including robes.
When spending the night at The Nest, one should choose between two different options for the evening program. You can spend the night at The Nest and experience the food offering there, or you can go to the Sonara Camp nearby where dinner is served in a unique setup and accompanied by a lot of interesting activities.
If you stay at The Nest, you will get a welcome drink and will be served Syrian olives, pickles and tapenade with delicate pastry flute. There is a tapas menu featuring an array of delicious dishes including wood-oven cooked pizzas with Spanish toppings, shrimps à la plancha with garlic, parsley, rouille mousseline, Nicoise style stuffed vegetables, Wagyu beef sliders, lobster rolls, Mediterranean bao and paella-style black Spanish rice with roast vegetables. Deserts include chocolate and pistachio pie, strawberries dressed with basil and Syrian olive oil and apple crumble with red berries.
Even though this sounded really attractive, we decided to go for the other option and spent the evening with the Sonara Camp experience. After a short drive, you arrive at the welcome area of the Sonara Camp, where you can enjoy a few drinks and some small finger food such as pizza, while enjoying the breath-taking sunset. Once the darkness falls, the whole area becomes truly magical. There are lights everywhere, which create a mythical environment in the desert. Once you go down the stairs, you reach a stage where nicely decorated tables are placed in the sand. You can enrol in plenty of activities such as falcony, an interactive hawk show, soft archery or sand boarding. Once you decide to take a seat, a real desert feast takes off with regional and western food. Lots of dishes are placed on your table, consisting out of vegetables and meats cooked over open fire. While eating, you can enjoy several great shows including belly dancing and acts with fire. Important to mention is that the whole camp is eco-friendly and sustainable, that electricity is created via solar energy and that they have a zero-waste policy.
We cannot conclude the chapter about gastronomy without mentioning the mind-blowing breakfast setup at The Nest. Once you wake up in the morning, the staff installs a table in the sand, including a white tablecloth, and this in the middle of the desert. Lots of delectable breakfast goodies are served for an unbelievable start of your day.
Even though you are spending time in the middle of the desert, there are plenty of activities to consider during a stay at The Nest by Sonara :
- The Sky Safari : develop your knowledge of astronomy whilst connecting to the history and heritage of the Arab World
- Horse riding : discover the beauty of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, during a guided walk on the back of a horse
- Camel trek : visit the area by camel
- Nature Tour : explore the more than fifty plant species, one hundred and twenty birds and forty-three mammals and reptiles that are living in the deserve during a walk
- Dune Buggy : enjoy a thrilling ride in a motor vehicle with large wheels and wide tires, designed for use on sand dunes
- Hot Air Balloon : no better way to discover the extent of the gorgeous resort than from the sky
- Dune Bashing : Experience the thrills of dune bashing, climbing up a dune at rapid speed and then drop suddenly by jeep
If you ever dreamt of spending a night in the middle of the desert without sacrificing any comfort or luxury, then you should definitely discover The Nest by Sonara. But even without that dream on the bucket list, a night at The Nest will be an experience you will not forget for a lifetime. The location in the middle of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is simply breath-taking. The nests are gorgeous and fit perfectly in the stunning environment. Add the wonderful service, unique activities such as camel riding and the incredible dinner experience at the Sonara Camp, and you have a guarantee for a stay that will create memories.