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Aditya & Rub’al Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi

Discover the dramatic, red sand dunes of one of the largest deserts in the world before a relaxing week in a beachfront, boutique hotel on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

What's Included:
3 nights Rub’al Khali Desert, including breakfast; 7 nights Aditya, including breakfast. Includes flights and transfers.

12 days from £2,130pp

Speak to someone
who's been there

Alison, an Audley Travel specialist

Start planning your tailor-made trip by contacting one of our Sri Lanka specialists

On the beach - 8 days

Aditya, South Coast

The winner of multiple international awards, Aditya is an exclusive boutique retreat with incredible attention to detail. The hotel is set on a lovely stretch of beach between Galle and Hikkaduwa and aptly named after the Sun God.

Small, intimate and with a reputation for outstanding service, Aditya caters for your every whim. There are just 12 individually-designed suites here, named after solar deities of Hindu mythology. Dining is excellent here and meals are served when and where you wish. Whisking a table and chairs and a clutch of candles to the far end of the quiet beach is no trouble, or you could choose to dine beside your private plunge pool. While you may be tempted to linger on the beach, by the large pool, or in the sumptuous spa, you can also borrow bicycles and explore the surrounding area or join a cooking demonstration which includes a visit to the local market to select ingredients.

The crisp and modern suites are all different but feature carefully chosen furnishings influenced by a fusion of Asian styles. All come with private terraces and Jacuzzis.

Before the beach - 3 days

Rub’al Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi

Rub’al Khali, or the ‘Empty Quarter’ is one of the largest sand deserts in the world and its endless vistas of striking red sand dunes are a great complement to a beach holiday enjoying the dazzling blues of the Indian Ocean. There are many ways to discover and explore the nature, culture and history of this fascinating region from serene night walks under the stars and visits to a historic oasis to exhilarating dune bashing excursions.

Anantara Qasr al Sarab offers comfortable luxury in a beautifully secluded desert location. Set in among the sand dunes, the resort offers a wide range of the typical facilities and amenities you would expect of a resort at this level as well as many optional excursions and activities to help you discover more of the desert setting. Accommodation options range from desert view rooms to suites and pool villas.

Aditya, South Coast

12 rooms, 1 restaurant, 1 pool


Named after the Hindu Sun God, Aditya is a boutique hotel with only 16 suites, set on a secluded stretch of beach between Galle and Hikkaduwa. 

The atmosphere in the resort is relaxed and calm and with only a few guests, it never feels crowded.

Each of the suites is unique, with careful attention to the decor, which is a modern fusion of Sinhalese carvings and sleek, polished wood. Some rooms open out onto a private courtyard whilst others have wide balconies with views of the Indian Ocean.

Service is personal and friendly — this is the sort of hotel that welcomes regulars back each year. Meals can be served where and when you wish, and staff will be happy to set up a table and chairs for you at the far end of the beach, or serve you in the alfresco restaurant.

For families

There are no specific children's facilities as the hotel focuses more on couples, but the hotel can arrange babysitting at no cost on prior request.

Aditya is located between Galle and Hikkaduwa, set on long stretch of golden sand, backed by palm trees and overlooking the breakers of the Indian Ocean. The waves can be boisterous, but the water is generally calmer December – April.

The hotel's location is very secluded, but Hikkaduwa is only 4 km (2.4 miles) away by tuk-tuk, at a cost of about 800 LKR return. Here you’ll find mellow beach bars, local shops and seafood restaurants.

The Dutch-fortress town of Galle is 12 km (7.4 miles) away. This colonial relic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk along the fort ramparts, visit Dutch churches and meander along cobbled streets, as well as its boutique shops, cafés (head to II Gelato on Pedlar Street on a hot day) and restaurants.

Our opinion

Set on a wild stretch of flaxen beach, this intimate boutique hotel offers great views over the Indian Ocean.

Although it doesn't have the range of facilities of a larger resort, it has high levels of personalised service, and plenty of Sri Lankan charm. The secluded location and small size make it a great choice for those seeking something a little different. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the local area from the hotel.


Each of the 16 spacious suites at the Aditya is individually designed with carefully chosen art and antiques, blending with a fusion of Asian styles. All of them have a sunken plunge pool and sitting area.

Other amenities in the room include air-conditioning, minibar, television, stereo and DVD player, and tea/coffee-making facilities (with locally-sourced tea).

Shanthi Suite

The six Shanthi Suites are all spacious, varying in size between 75 sq m and 90 sq m.

These large suites feature separate sitting areas and, of course, private plunge pools.

Sagara Suite

The five Sagara Suites benefit from excellent ocean views, allowing you to enjoy amazing sunset vistas over the beach and ocean from your balcony.

Surya suite

This large, luxurious suite features magnificent ocean views and is split over two floors.

Downstairs, there is a sitting area and bathroom, while upstairs there is a bedroom and a terrace, with a plunge pool and sunbeds.

Pictures of the rooms

Activities, diving & excursions

Aditya is ideal for simply relaxing and doing nothing, perhaps lying in one of the hammocks in the garden, or by the pool. If you feel like being more active, you can take a yoga class or borrow bicycles to go out and explore the surrounding area. Cooking classes that include a trip to the local market for ingredients, are also available.

There’s also a gym and library available at the hotel, which includes books, board games, movies and music.

There is no dive centre at the hotel, but diving can be arranged in nearby Unawatuna or Hikkaduwa.

Food & drink

There’s one restaurant at the hotel creating dishes to a high standard. The à la carte menu offers both western and Sri Lankan fare and, as you would expect from its location, there’s a strong emphasis on seafood. The chef is also happy to custom-make meals in consultation with guests, and you can have your meals whenever and wherever you choose.

There’s also a poolside bar, serving a variety of cocktails, wines and spirits, including plenty of varieties of the local coconut-based spirit, arrack.

Spa Facilities

A range of pampering and invigorating spa treatments are available in the privacy of your suite or, if you prefer, in the hotel's spa treatment room.

Rub’al Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi

Location: Rub’al Khali Desert

Rub’al Khali, or the ‘Empty Quarter’ is the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world covering an area roughly equivalent to France, Germany and Spain combined. The area is renowned for its dramatic scenery of sand dunes, some rising over 250 m (820 ft) in height. The stunning landscape of this fascinating area is constantly changing with sand dunes moving at an incredible rate, blown by the wind.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Accommodation: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is located around a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Abu Dhabi, right in the heart of the Liwa Desert, which is one of the largest stretches of sand deserts in the world. The hotel really does offer something completely different; as you drive along the desert, it looms up out of the sand like an Arabian mirage. The property is aesthetically pleasing and built to admire the views of the sand dunes stretching across the miles of desert.

There are over 200 king or twin rooms and private villas, all decorated in an Arabian style with earthy tones, chandeliers and Middle Eastern fabrics. They offer either a terrace or balcony, as well as en suite bathrooms with bathtubs and rain showers. Further amenities include coffee machines and complimentary Wi-Fi access.

In terms of communal facilities, there's a Middle Eastern inspired spa and a free-form swimming pool, a fitness centre, three tennis courts and a kids' club. Guests can choose to dine in the Middle Eastern restaurant on site, or in the property's steak house.

A variety of desert activities can be experienced from here, such as sand dune walking, dune bashing, desert sailing and archery.


Day by day

Day 1

Board your overnight flight to Abu Dhabi.

Day 2

On arrival you will be met by our representative and guided to your private driver for the two hour drive into the desert. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the unique setting of the resort among the red sand dunes of Rub'Al Khali, one of the largest deserts in the world.

Day 3

Today you have a full day at leisure to do as you wish and the resort offers a wide range of excellent desert activities you may like to book. Learn about the nature, culture and history of the area on a guided desert walk, take a trip to Liwa Oasis or discover the ancient sport of falconry.

Day 4

If you are looking for a bit more exhilaration, why not try a dune bashing trip or go sand boarding and fat biking over the dunes? Alternatively try a sunrise yoga session in the desert, a night walk under the stars or simply relax and enjoy the luxurious surroundings and plentiful facilities at the resort.

Day 5

Today you are transferred back to the airport in time for your four and a half hour flight to Sri Lanka. On arrival you are met by our representative and transferred by private vehicle to the lovely Aditya in Galle. The journey should take about one and a half to two hours.

Day 6

You may like to just relax today and enjoy the pool and beach, if you wish to explore the local area then hire some bikes from the hotel and head out.

Day 7

Today you may enjoy visiting the nearby turtle hatchery, or perhaps visit a nearby village to see the traditional mask making.

Day 8

You may enjoy the cookery offer at the hotel, which includes a trip to the local market for some delicious ingredients.

Days 9 - 11

At leisure.

Day 12

You will have most of the day at leisure before transferring back to the airport in time for your flight home.

Start planning your trip with Audley

Tailoring your trip

This itinerary is designed to give you a flavour of what is possible.

  • We can tailor this trip to suit your specific requirements

  • Any aspect of the itinerary can be altered, from excursions to accommodation

How to book

Contact a Hidden Beach specialist

Whether you wish to plan your trip around this itinerary idea or you have other ideas, please do get in touch by phone or online. If using our online form, a destination specialist will contact you by phone to discuss your requirements.

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Confirm your trip

Once you are satisfied with all the arrangements, we ask you to complete a booking form and pay a deposit of 15% of the total cost of your trip.

Stay in touch

Even after booking, you'll undoubtedly think of more questions. Feel free to call your specialist at any time. The same specialist will handle your trip from start to finish.

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