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Desert Palm, Dubai 
$$$$

Al Awir Road
Dubai
United Arab Emirates
Tel: 971 4323 8888
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
One of the city's rare small hotels, this enclave of 24 suites and villas sits on a 150-acre polo estate whose verdant lawns feel far, far away from the cranes of Dubai. Thirteen suites on the upper floor of the hotel wing, accented with modern and ancient statues of horses, have freestanding egg-shaped tubs and come equipped with espresso machines and yoga mats; the white-washed villas add kitchenettes and private plunge pools. The location makes hiring taxis difficult, but the hotel engages private cars for excursions at a reasonable (for Dubai) $32 per hour. Guests share a spa, large infinity pool, organic café and bakery, wine bar, and excellent steak restaurant with the estate's permanent residents. Nonetheless, the resulting atmosphere remains uncrowded and unpretentious. Excellent horses are available for riding lessons, but the best part of a sojourn here is taking high tea or sitting with a martini on the terrace overlooking a field where the emirate's sheikhs play sunset polo.—2009 Hot List

When to go: Early fall and spring offer the most comfortable weather for poolside lounging.

Which room to book: A suite with a polo field view. All pool villas are walled for privacy.

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