Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary Lodge and Spa, Dakhla Oasis
Tel: 20 92 910 5007
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Scattered between ancient date trees half buried in sand, farm plots, and low rocky hills dotted with fox dens and potsherds attesting to millennia of human settlement, Al Tarfa's 20 free-standing villas reference the geometric motifs of Dakhla Oasis's eleventh-century mud-brick and palm-wood architecture. Rooms situated to take advantage of the view are variously decorated with wrought iron beds, carved wood tables, and local textiles; all have outdoor terraces and some have fireplaces and private plunge pools. The place is especially romantic at night, with paths lit by cut-out clay vases, straw bird cages, and other traditional objects repurposed as lanterns. There's a central lounge bar, a pool, a riding stable, and a small but exquisite spa to satisfy guests who want to chill out between desert camping and pharaonic sightseeing excursions. And Al Tarfa is also a soft-adventure destination: The room rate includes private camel rides in the dunes and walking or 4x4 visits to local pharaonic and Islamic ruins, living villages, and geological points of interest such as natural hot springs.2009 Hot List
When to go: Avoid the summer heat and the mid-February through April sandstorm season.
Which room to book: Dar Awad, farthest from reception, has exceptional views of the austere white plateau, which turns pink at sunset. Dar Hamza has the most romantic interior decor, with nineteenth-century-style wood beds and chaise lounges, and is the only suite with a plunge pool and a fireplace.