Now that the rain seems set in already, it’s the perfect time to plan long-haul winter getaways, so we asked in-the-know travel consultant Ellis Fuller from boutique hotel experts Smith & Family for her top three family-friendly retreats in the Middle East. Ellis’s picks are all nominees for the Best Smith Hotel category at the annual Smith Hotel Awards this November, and you can vote for your favourite at

Six Senses Zighy Bay, Musandam, Oman

With spacious rustic villas, a vast sandy beach, and the Martianesque Hajar Mountains beyond, Six Senses Zighy Bay is an impressive family-friendly resort. Metres away from the sea, and with an excellent spa and two swimming pools, it’s great for unwinding while the kids go water-skiing, abseiling or take cookery lessons at the kids club. I love the hotel’s alfresco film nights on the beach, perfect for lazy evenings spent under the stars.

Doubles from £433 per night, including breakfast




Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Liwa Desert, United Arab Emirates

A desert palace brimming with Middle Eastern charm, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort has all the family holiday requirements: there are spacious rooms, palm dotted pools, and activities galore. Families can tear up the dunes in their own four-wheel drives, take camel rides and learn Emirati cooking, or relax in the sumptuous spa. There’s also delicious dining: the hotel can set up a feast in your own personal Bedouin tent, complete with a dazzling fire pit and a personal butler.

Doubles from £202 per night, including breakfast





One & Only The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Stretched out over the Persian Gulf on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah archipelago, One & Only The Palm is a palatial retreat brimming with indulgent island luxury. The hotel has one of the best pools around – it’s huge, has stunning views of the sea, and is surrounded by comfy cabanas and cream-hued loungers. For families, I love the generous and super luxurious Junior Suites, which have classic neutral tones and breezy private terraces – some with their own personal pools and gardens.

Doubles from £453 per night, including breakfast





These boutique hotels are shortlisted for Best Smith Hotel in the Smith Hotel Awards 2015. Vote by 30 September at Smith & Family gives you the best price, guaranteed, as well as a little something extra on arrival. Book online at or by calling our Smith24 travel specialists on 0330 100 3180.