Dubai is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and the reason is simple – aside from some of the best duty-free shopping imaginable, you can enjoy a unique desert adventure as well as plenty of charming Middle Eastern flavors.
Yes, it’s for real, this ultra-modern city in the midst of the desert with hundreds of skyscrapers soaring up to the skies, including one of the tallest buildings on earth, Burj Khalifa. Dubai is a high-tech desert oasis, a city with an ever-changing skyline – from the top of Burj Khalifa, you can see these new developments taking shape, shifting the skyline one silhouette at a time. You’ll even see some buildings being erected in man-made land in the sea.
Dubai is a microcosm – you’ll find the world right here in the city. The people who live and play here are from so many different nationalities and this is reflected in the variety of activities and facilities offered. You can taste every imaginable cuisine, shop till you drop, go skiing in the first ski resort in the Middle East, walk amidst fish swimming in the aquarium, drive upside down on desert dunes… there’s so much to see and do here, you’ll want to return time and again.
Where To Stay
Luxury knows no bounds in Dubai, and you’ll find some of the most luxurious ‘seven-star’ hotels here, including the city’s landmark, Burj Al Arab. In fact, arriving and departing by helicopter is the norm in Dubai and no attention to detail is spared at the luxury hotels. Let’s take a look at a few of the best.
The yardstick by which every other Dubai hotel is measured and considered the very first ‘seven star’ establishment in the city, Burj Al Arab is a masterpiece of modern luxury. The hotel has literally redefined the meaning of luxurious hospitality the world over. If you don’t get here by helicopter, don’t despair – the hotel has a fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms that can transport you in the manner to which you’re about to become accustomed, if you aren’t ‘accustomed’ already. Here, decadence and every possible comfort is the order of the day. The hotel literally stretches into the sea and this man-made island includes two magnificent swimming pools, where guests soak up the endless sun on sunbeds or in cabanas with butlers afoot. The hotel’s interiors are sublimely sumptuous, with more gold leaf than possibly found anywhere else in Dubai, marble everywhere and unmatched pampering every time you take a breath. Think of a facility – spa, superb gourmet restaurant, you name it – and it’s found at Burj Al Arab.
Dubai is a city of luxury resorts, but this one stands out because it is just that touch more spectacular than most. Located on Palm Jumeirah island, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai offers everything in multitudes – superb restaurants, plush accommodation, 65,000 marine animals to view up close in the Lost Chambers Aquarium, shops for fabulous retail therapy and every other imaginable facility. Guests can have a very unique experience here if they wish, like diving with sharks, staying in an underwater suite with fish swimming by or having endless fun in the onsite Aquaventure waterpark, believed to be the largest in the world, including 105 rides and attractions from thrilling slides to lazy rivers.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to the Med, but in fact you’re in Dubai, about to enjoy Bulgari hospitality at its best. Bulgari Resort Dubai is a sumptuous island retreat with all the trimmings, created with the same materials, attention to detail and creativity as every piece of jewellery ever designed by Bulgari. In true Bulgari style, no detail has been overlooked – you’ll find everything you didn’t even know you needed to enjoy the most decadent stay. There’s a 3-Michelin-star restaurant where you can enjoy superb dishes, a pampering spa with a choice of indulgent treatments, a magnificent swimming pool where you can relax and refresh in privacy and superlative service. True to Bulgari, everything is slightly understated here, but Italian elegance is ever-present and your wish is the staff’s command. Watch for those special touches that set this hotel apart from the rest and make for a stunning stay, like decadent hand-made chocolates to nibble on, created by the inhouse chocolatier and your own personal driver to take you anywhere you want to go.
Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
Elegant, timeless and the epitome of luxury, Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach offers a quintessential luxury stay. Overlooking the magnificent Arabian Gulf, it begs guests to take advantage of the sun and the hotel’s private beach by spending time in one of its sumptuous cabanas. The dining and accommodation options are glorious, the spa is an indulgent dream come true, there’s an indoor pool as well as two outdoor ones and a state-of-the-art fitness centre, jogging track and 2 tennis courts for the active. Don’t hesitate to bring the kids – the immersive kids’ club keeps them entertained for hours. As the sun sets, the hotel transforms into a magical evening spot, with the opportunity to dine at the celebrity restaurant Nusr-Et and then head for the rooftop’s Mercury Lounge to for an after-dinner drink with breathtaking views.
What To Do
The souks (traditional markets) in the old part of the city are a delight and you’ll find all sorts of items to purchase. Dubai’s Gold Souk is legendary for its incredible gold jewellery, and these miniscule stores lining a few narrow streets are treasure troves full of every kind of jewellery imaginable. Then there’s the Spice Souk, which offers a kaleidoscope of colourful Middle Eastern flavours to use in the kitchen and your medicine cabinet.
Enjoy a dune-bashing roller coaster ride in 4×4 vehicles, followed by a far more sedate ride on the back of a camel through the desert. Both offer a taste of desert life at its best, adrenaline-packed and relaxing. Nothing beats plodding through the sand with the desert stretching out in front of you as the sun sets on another magical day.
See Dubai spread out below you from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Make sure to get there early to avoid the crowds. The ride upwards is dramatic and extremely fast. Before you know it, you’re at the top, with Dubai at your feet, a hazy cream-coloured mass of high buildings stretching to the horizon.
Shopping doesn’t get better than this mall, the busiest on earth. Pick up a mall guide from one of the many information centers and read up on where you want to go and what you want to do. There is every imaginable shop here – you can literally find branches of all the world’s famous stores here, including Paris’ Galeries Lafayette, a Bloomingdales and Debenhams of London. Whatever you want, you’ll find it here, from designer fashion to watches and accessories, computers, sportswear, décor items… the list is as endless as the possibilities.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
An unexpected treasure in the midst of Dubai Mall’s mayhem, the Aquarium takes you under the sea to another world full of sea life. Walk through an underwater tunnel to see sharks and other fish of all sizes gliding past, stopping to nibble at something on a seabed before heading onwards. The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo offer all sorts of activities, including scuba diving with the fish.
To Sum It All Up
Dubai is a never-ending succession of experiences and adventures, each one more exciting than the last. You can enjoy a taste of the Middle East and the desert, laze on sun-soaked beaches or shop till you drop. Go skiing, enjoy world class opera and other music genres at Dubai Opera or amble along on a camel ride before enjoying a traditional desert meal. It’s all waiting for you in this wonderworld of magic. So pack your bag and head on over to Dubai!