Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

World’s First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

World’s First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

The doors of Dar Tantora The House Hotel, AlUla Old Town, are now open for reservations. Managed by Kerten Hospitality, this special eco-community with 30 rooms, created with the help of Architect Shahira Fahmy from Egypt, is nestled in the center of AlUla’s Old Town. The town is like a maze of ancient mud and stone buildings from the 12th Century, encircling a castle or fort from the 10th Century.


 

Crafted using the identical materials and building methods seen in AlUla Old Town’s 900 remaining traditional houses, this property occupies the southern part of the AlUla Old Town heritage area. It transforms some of these historic homes into luxurious multi-level accommodations, offering an exquisite experience.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

AlUla, located in North West Arabia, is a vital heritage spot with a rich history spanning 7,000 years. It served as a key point on the Incense Road, a historic trade route. AlUla Old Town emerged during the Islamic era as the new city center. Positioned near a refreshing oasis with palm trees and wells, the town offered pilgrims heading to Mecca a comfortable stop along their journey.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

Dar Tantora The House Hotel features 30 earth-clad rooms and suites, along with amenities like an infinity pool, gym, yoga and meditation studio, spa, and restaurant. It stands out as a low-impact, sustainable property, unique globally, built with traditional methods and materials. Illuminated by candlelight, it employs restored irrigation and ventilation systems to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. The project involved collaboration between Shahira Fahmy’s team and Dr. Mounir Neamatalla, the founder of EQI (Environmental Quality International).

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

Harvard Fellow Shahira Fahmy, recognized by Phaidon as a key figure shaping the Arab architectural landscape, collaborated with restoration experts and local craftsmen to revive the 12th Century structures of the hotel. This included restoring mud brick walls, stonework, windows, and ancient murals to their original glory.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

In Dar Tantora The House Hotel and across AlUla Old Town, colorful murals depict local life and traditions. Originally painted as wedding gifts, these murals showcase nature, daily life, celebrations, calligraphy, and symbols of joy and prosperity. Using natural colors, Fahmy and her team beautifully restored these cultural narratives.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

JOONTOS, the hotel’s main restaurant, focuses on using local ingredients sourced from AlUla’s farmers and suppliers. They adopt a zero-waste approach in the kitchen, ensuring sustainability. The oasis provides citrus fruits, dates, mangoes, pomegranates, and root vegetables, supporting local farmers through training programs.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

Dar Tantora gets its name and layout inspiration from the traditional sundial, known as Tantora, at its entrance. This sundial has long been a timekeeper for AlUla Old Town, marking the rhythm of daily life and cultural events based on the seasons. The hotel’s design reflects this concept of light and darkness, adapting to seasonal changes and temperature regulation.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

The duplex bedrooms at Dar Tantora The House Hotel reflect the traditional living style in AlUla Old Town, featuring bedrooms upstairs and living/working spaces below. Terraces, rooftops, and the infinity pool are strategically designed for the best views of the oasis, surrounding rocks, and nighttime stargazing.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

The rich artistic and cultural legacy of AlUla is deeply connected with the structure of the property. Students from the nearby Madrasat Addeera, a school dedicated to blending traditional arts with modern expression, showcase their creations at Dar Tantora The House Hotel. The hotel currently features three curated artworks by Creative Dialogue and artworks by Gregory Chatonsky, highlighting Sadu, a traditional Bedouin embroidery technique that uses hand-woven camel hair dyed in various colors and shaped into geometric patterns for different textiles.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

Until the 1980s, people lived in AlUla Old Town, but they moved away seeking modern comforts and electricity. Some staff at Dar Tantora The House Hotel have deep roots in the area, going back several centuries through their families. For instance, the hotel’s bread maker grew up in one of the mud and stone houses in Old Town, where she used to bake bread for her family. She shares stories of the old community lifestyle, where families lived upstairs while the ground floor was home to goats and chickens.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

The hotel honors and celebrates the heritage of AlUla Old Town, including the long-standing Tantora Celebration held every December 21st to kick off the Winter at Tantora Festival. This festive event brings the community together with food, music, and dancing, signaling the arrival of winter and the pleasant cool weather it brings.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

Right at the center of AlUla, Dar Tantora The House Hotel is near the Incense Road Market, AlJadidah Arts District, and the Oasis. Great for walkers, you can discover local shops for unique souvenirs and enjoy dining at Tawlat Fayza, Somewhere, Suhail, and Heart of the Oasis, offering a mix of local and global cuisines in a special setting.

World's First Earth-Built Property in AlUla

For those looking to explore AlUla’s rich history, local guides (‘Rawis’) offer tours to cultural sites like Hegra, Dadan, and Jabal Ikmah. AlUla hosts many events year-round, such as Winter at Tantora Festival, AlUla Arts Festival, Azimuth music event, AlUla Skies Festival, AlUla Wellness Festival, and Ancient Kingdoms Festival.


 


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