Lazing by the pool in the Hatta Fort Hotel it is easy to forget that the swarming streets and high-rise housing of Dubai are just over an hour away. Relaxation will have swallowed you up.

Surrounded on all sides by the imposing Hajar mountains, with their picture-postcard skylines and towering rock faces, it fulfils its promise as a great short-break getaway.

A 10-minute drive from the Oman border, the Hatta Fort Hotel is popular with expats looking to do a quick hop over the border and back to renew their visa.

But even if you don't need an extra stamp on your passport it is worth the trip.

Driving out from the city look for the three big Cs of rural Dubai: carpets, ceramics and camels. You can see the first two at numerous roadside markets and the last named can be spotted wandering along the roadside as you drive by.

These, along with the ‘Big Red' sand dune and the occasional fruit-and-veg seller are all part of the process of ‘de-Dubai-ifying' yourself and slowing your pace of life in preparation for arriving at Hatta.

Life moves at a different pace out in the mountains and if you don't stop and look around once in a while you can miss it.

You can't, however, fail to see it at the Hatta Fort Hotel. A birdwatcher's paradise, it is home to dozens of species of bird.

As well as the peacocks squawking around the hotel entrance you might be lucky enough to spot a rare Hume's Wheater or the wonderfully named Blue Rock Thrush, the Red Wattled Lapwing, the Little Green Bee-Eater or even the Graceful Warbler.

The song of birds in the hotel's 80-acre gardens, park and hiking paths is only occasionally interrupted by the sound of a clay pigeon being shot down in the on-site shooting gallery or the twanging of a bow in the archery range.

The blend of personal indulgence at the Senses spa and collective challenges on the assault courses has made the Hatta Fort Hotel a popular destination for conferences, corporate family fun days as well as team-building courses.

If you decide to stay the night, the chalet-style rooms, complete with high-beamed ceilings and private patio are ideal for watching the sun set and the bright lights of the small town of Hatta light up. Dubai seems a lot further than an hour away.

If You Go...

  • Scenic bike ride: The hotel has mountain bikes and helmets and can suggest a few trails for cyclists of all abilities. Take a packed lunch and explore.
  • Hatta Heritage Village: Life in Hatta goes back thousands of years and this restored village is a celebration of a long-forgotten way of life.
  • Hatta pools: This lush oasis is a natural pool to compete with any man-made swimming spot.
  • Hatta Fort Hotel is popular with expats looking to do a quick hop over the border and back to renew their visa.