After seeing a trend on social media, I pledged to stray away from tourist hotspots this year and start escaping to lesser-known lands; and what a decision this was. My love for travel has taken me to some amazing places, but I've never seen a destination like this. I spent five days living a life of luxury in the desert, where the changing scenery encompassed incredible hotels, ancient sites, natural playgrounds and so much more.
If you're ready for an unforgettable travel experience, this destination is sure to tick a few things off your bucket list.
Travel Somewhere New
This is probably on a lot of people's bucket lists, but following my pledge to avoid the crowds, travelling somewhere new sat pretty high on mine. I headed to AlUla
with some others from Elegant Resorts, and we were met with stunning views even before we had landed. As we flew in, we could see out across the mountains and so many of us were in awe of the landscape - it wasn't like anything we had seen before, and the excitement of what awaited us once we landed then skyrocketed.
Embarking on this new adventure was made even easier by the warm welcome we received from Habitas AlUla
, which would be our home for the next four nights. When we checked in, we were greeted with a Welcome Ceremony, which was a ritual based on local cultural practices and they even gave us all a bracelet that became a really lovely souvenir. The resort is based around the message of 'Welcome Home', and it truly gave us all a feeling of comfort and belonging.
Besides the environmental impact of helping to counter over-tourism, holidaying to destinations that you may not see all over social media or in your family photo albums is a great way of getting once-in-a-lifetime experiences and truly discovering the world. My five days in AlUla opened my eyes to some amazing moments, from my first helicopter ride which took us over the AlUla's seven most famous landmarks and heritage sites to finding macaroons that are better than the ones in Paris (yep, I said it!) at a restaurant on the way back to the airport.
Have a Main Character Moment
Everyone wants to have a main character moment, right? Those magical moments in life when you feel the best you've ever felt, with an awakened confidence, and like the world has been scripted for you. And let me tell you, Habitas AlUla is the place to get this feeling.
I stayed in Villa 40 and as soon as I entered, I had the biggest smile on my face. This room was just so stunning: open plan, with a separate walk-in wardrobe, stunning bathroom with an inside and outdoor shower and the most beautiful deck that looks out towards the mountains.
The resort was amazing, and rather than have us walk around in the desert heat, I could just call for a buggy to pick me up! The food was delicious whilst prioritising health, the pool was absolutely stunning and I even took part in a sound healing class that had me sleep like a queen! Every aspect of Habitas AlUla places you as a priority which makes it such a special stay.
Get Closer to Nature
There's no greater peace than being outdoors, or so I've heard. But after seeing the landscapes and natural views of AlUla that are truly something else, I can finally appreciate that myself. We got to see some amazing places, from visiting the Shalal Café which is hidden between the mountains to spending a day walking the Heritage Oasis Trail; a palm-lined stroll that stretches almost six kilometres past mudbrick houses, working farms and ancient city walls. We even saw dates growing from a tree as we walked!
Just before heading home, we also managed a quick stop at Harat Viewpoint to take in the beautiful views. This spot is set atop an ancient volcanic mountain in AlUla, so you can catch some stunning views of the oasis from up here.
See the Stars
AlUla's natural beauty and remote setting make it the perfect spot to spend a night beneath the stars! We spent our last night in here doing just that with a Husaak Adventures stargazing tour to Gharameel - a remote location north of Habitas where there absolutely no light pollution.
The set-up was jaw-dropping, out in the desert with blankets arranged right in front of incredible ancient rock formations. We had a super interesting guide who had actually arrived at Habitas as a guest while she was studying to become an architect, but after getting captivated by her visit she returned to work as a guide.
It was such a memorable night. We got to see the Milky Way and even had dinner under the stars.
Go on an Alcohol-Free Escape
The rise of detox escapes and wellness retreats has also led some travellers to try out an alcohol-free holiday. Whilst I didn't necessarily go to AlUla for wellness (though I did have that amazing sound healing class), I definitely did not miss alcohol with so many tasty treats on offer throughout this trip.
Some of the restaurants we visited included Saffron at Banyan Tree AlUla
, which actually recently won an award that they never even knew they had been nominated for! I'm not surprised though as the food was some of the best I have ever tasted.
We also stopped at a restaurant called Somewhere, and the food was out of this world. Not to mention, on the morning we explored the iconic Hegra, we received free snacks and drinks on arrival; including fresh juices. They had a variety of flavours, but I decided to try the orange and it was divine - a perfect thirst-quencher in the heat.
Whilst AlUla may have ticked off a lot of my bucket list already, it definitely won't stop me from going back. Everything is so beautiful and everyone is so friendly, it's a dream holiday destination!
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