Solitude at Fossil Rock

A Sixties English petrol station and medical clinic, and a conversion by a London-slash-Dubai design firm. Throw the location into the mix: a conservation reserve on the cusp of Oman – and it’s a trifecta that doesn’t automatically add up to the Americana feel that flows through Al Faya Lodge.

Maybe it’s the low-slung, motel feel to the rooms, of which there are only four – compact but fitted out interestingly, with dark faux marble interiors and brass fittings in the wet rooms.

Possibly it’s the site itself, whereby a (very quiet) highway separates the rooms and pool from the restaurant, with golf buggies waiting to transport guests across the short strip. Or maybe it’s the Arizona-esque Fossil Rock, a vivid russet monolith overlooking the lodge that punctures clarion skies – and over which a guest may see the odd bird of prey soaring in long, lazy circles.

Set in the crimson desert landscape of Sharjah, the Al Faya Lodge is a new addition to the Sharjah Collection – a group of boutique hotels and eco-retreats throughout the emirate. The architecture and design was taken on by Jonathan Ashmore of Dubai and London-based practice ANARCHITECT, who sought to reimagine two single-storey, stone buildings from the 1960s – previously occupied by a clinic and grocery store – as a new hotel and restaurant.

The rooms have touches that speak to their locale; within each is a feature skylight for star-gazing, and a luxe room has the added experience of a private roof terrace and dual aspect. The pièce de résistance is a purpose-built spa building housing an open-air saltwater pool and three salt spa experiences. Shaded by a latticed wall, it is perhaps the most relaxing start to a day in the middle of nowhere.

IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Head to Mleiha archaeological site – those with a 4×4 should brave an 8km off-road track that winds through the centre of electricity pylons and offers unrivalled views of the orange sands synonymous with the area. When there, take a horse, quad bike or 4×4 to the top of Camel Rock – stopping for camel herders and an explanation of the area’s unique geological features.

From US$273 per night / al-faya-lodge.com

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