I have just come back from a wonderful four-day break in Dubai with my sister. We stayed with a friend so I don’t have a review of a hotel as such but I thought I would write a summary of everything we have done in Dubai – as there is lots to do!
I should start this by saying I was really unsure about Dubai before I went. I felt it was a long way to go for a few days (as most people tend to go for five days) and I wasn’t sure about everything being new BUT I was totally blown away by how much I loved it. I thought it was safe, clean, cosmopolitan, beautiful and a fantastic mix of beach and city. I also really think Dubai can be a holiday destination for anyone. There is SO much to do you probably need a month to plan it all out. My advice would be to watch YouTube videos, read blog reviews and look at things like Timeout magazine Dubai to work out what you want to do on the days you’re there.
The brief for our holiday here was relaxation and a chance to enjoy good food – child free, so here is what we did…
[If you want to see the holiday in video form you can find it here…]
We arrived after a much longer flight than planned. We flew with Emirates on an A380 plane and I was impressed, but before we get to the journey a quick one about the experience before…
We were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to work with a local travel agent, Thames Travel to write a blog post for them on some experiences in Dubai and the first one – an airport lounge. I have never had the pleasure of being in an airport lounge before and honestly, wasn’t sure of the benefits but after coming through security and entering the Number One lounge at Heathrow Terminal three I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t see any of the airport and the experience really got our holiday off to a great start.
Inside you’ll find a fully tended bar, cinema, guest shower, sports lounge, unlimited WiFi, magazines, newspapers, and charging points as standard. We enjoyed quite a few glasses of pink proescco, a delicious fish finger wrap and some of the yummy cakes. We could have also helped ourselves to a salad bar and teas and coffees.
The price for the lounge is £34 in advance and £40 on the door. I will 100% do this again before a flight, it really was a special way to start the holiday.
Now back to the plane. I’ve not flown long haul for a while, I think the last flight was our honeymoon to South Africa / Mauritius so I had kind of forgotten what a plane that isn’t EasyJet was like!
We had spacious seats, a pretty impressive tablet/TV with a choice of films, podcasts, radio and music. If you’re keen on planes there are 3 cameras on the A380 and you can watch yourself taking off / flying / landing which was very cool. We were impressed by the food and drink on board, with a choice of beef with gratin potato’s and a chicken curry an hour or so into the flight.
After a delicious meal and a drink or two we were ready for some much-needed sleep! Unfortunately on our flight and I assume this is a very rare situation, one of the cabin crew was taken ill and we had to divert to Athens. All in all, I think it added about three hours onto our flight, I was just so pleased the girls weren’t with us!! The information whilst grounded in Athens was scarce and we felt a little in the dark about our delay but everyone was very understanding and after re-fuelling, we were on our way.
The diversion and then odd serving time of breakfast meant we got little sleep so we were pleased we had organised a quiet day for our first day!
Once we had got ourselves sorted from the flight we headed to the Summersalt Beach Club situated at the Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel. So what’s a beach club? Essentially it’s a pool, section of beach that you pay entry to and depending on the beach club you either get an allowance towards food and drink or in the case of Summersalt we had a 3 course brunch and drinks (between 12-4). All of the beach clubs are generally linked to a hotel due to the licensing laws but guests at the hotel would usually need to pay to gain access.
We arrived and were greeted by a friendly team. We were shown to sun loungers on the beach, which had the most stunning view of the long white sandy beach. We were a little later than planned due to the flight delay so didn’t have seats at the pool – if you want those get there early!
Our beach beds were comfy and had the most amazing view of one of the very famous hotels in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab. We spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and chatting in a beautiful setting. After we had our main course we headed up to the pool for a swim and stayed there drinking for an hour or so before heading back down the beach to watch the most beautiful sunset. I would highly recommend watching the sunset here – it sets just over the palm and after it sets you can watch all the lights on the palm and the Burj al Arab light up (a pretty purple when we were there).
It was windy and a little chilly so don’t forget a cardigan!
There was a happy hour at Summersalt between 4-7pm so lots of people were still by the pool or in the seating area.
We were exhausted so headed back to downtown to our friends apartment for a snack and early bedtime!
After waking and feeling like a new woman (an hours sleep on the plane was not the best) we decided to go with our fabulous host to explore the old town of Dubai.
It’s about a 15-minute drive from Downtown and is perfect if you want to see Dubai minus the tall buildings, explore Souks and explore Dubai aboard a boat on the creek. You can also find lots of history there, inside the Dubai Museum.
We decided to go straight to a cafe our friend knew called Mazmi which was an Italian inspired cafe overlooking the water with great service, delicious food and good coffee.
We sat right by the water and took in the views whilst we ate yummy Shakshouka eggs and my sister, eggs benedict. The coffees were well made and we spotted a few locals also Instagramming their drinks. I wasn’t alone!
After enjoying our breakfast we went for a walk through the souks. The smell of spices and herbs filled the streets as we were offered pashminas, bags and gifts.
I found two little beautiful bags for the girls in the Souks for £4. They made the perfect gift for two little girls that love the dress up!
After taking in the sights and smells of the souks we headed to the waterfront. There are water taxis which you can use or you can enquire as to the price for a private boat. We decided to do it alone and went for half an hour.
We had a chilled afternoon by the pool at our friends apartment and then headed to Pai Thai at Madinat Jumeirah
To get to this restaurant, you board an Abra which allows you to take in views across Madinat’s waterways. We had a delicious meal here with starters of dim sum, chicken satay and mains of duck curry and pad thai. It’s an award-winning restaurant and you can see why!
Day three was our first day without our host, AKA Dubai tour guide. She sent us off on an early morning walk to see Downtown Dubai before it got busy and we went in search of what are apparently Dubai’s best croissants. We explored the Downtown area near the water fountains and Burj Khalifa. There is a big art festival happening at the moment in celebration of #MyDowntownDubai as it’s turning ten years old. There are 22 weeks in the celebration, with lots of events, art installations and statues – like the Wings I posing on in the below photo, so check out local press to see if anything is happening while you are there.
After exploring Downtown we headed to La Serre for croissants and seriously good coffee.
After breakfast we jumped in an Uber and headed to Miracle Gardens Dubai which are about a 15/20 minute drive from Downtown.
The Dubai Miracle Gardens is a flower garden that was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
It’s huge, occupying over 72,000 square metres, making it the world’s largest natural flower garden. According to stats there are over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants. We found flower arches in heart shapes, giant Disney characters, a plane covered in flowers and much more!
As with any tourist attraction get there early as when we left around 11am it was starting to get very busy and there were queues to photograph lots of the popular sights.
Once we had our floral fix for the trip we headed over to The Palm and specifically to The Atlantis hotel which is one of those iconic hotels that I had always seen and always wanted to visit.
Press trip [We were invited to view the hotel for the day so I could write a review for a travel agent, we were gifted tickets to the waterpark but everything else we paid for]
The hotel is impressive and huge! We were blown away by the size and scale of everything, even the lobby. Everywhere is beautifully decorated with paintings on the ceiling, sculptures and even a huge aquarium between the East and West towers.
We were there to have a tour of some of the rooms which was very exciting.
The first part of our tour was looking at one of the rooms marketed to families. The room pictured below is a Palm Room and is part of the new Imperial Club offering. The Imperial Club offers a host of extras such as; complimentary airport transfers, a concierge team, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening drinks in the newly designed exclusive Imperial Club lounge. There is also a private beach, private check-in and check-out, complimentary kids club access and free access to the Aquaventure park.
After our tour of the Palm room and the Imperial Club facilities, we headed to view two of the top suites at The Atlantis. You can see more of a tour over on my Youtube video but they were huge rooms (well they were actually more like houses) and they were out of this world! I think one of my comments in my Youtube video was that I had never been any like it and it’s really true – they were beautifully decorated, had the most stunning views over the Palm and had everything you could possibly need in a suite. Even the quarters for the children was 10 times nicer than my whole house!
We felt very lucky to look around these suites so thank you to The Atlantis for spending the time to show us.
We had the opportunity to look around the rest of the hotel after seeing the rooms and suites and were so impressed with the facilities. From the Aquarium to the new Wavehouse with a bowling alley, restaurant, wave machine and bar to the kids club we were fairly certain that a family holiday here would have something for everyone.
After a busy day, we decided to have dinner in our friends apartment and ended up ordering a Wagamamas before heading to the Dubai fountains to watch the display. I would thoroughly recommend watching this show, it happens every half an hour in the evening and is set to music.
Our final full day and we headed to a new island, Bluewaters which is about 10/15 minutes from Downtown.
We started the day with breakfast at one of the new restaurants on the island. We chose to have our breakfast at The Coffee Club and really enjoyed the brunch style menu. My sister had waffles and I had shakshuka eggs (this was becoming a bit of a favourite for me on this trip). Once we had eaten and had a little walk we headed over to the hotel we were viewing for the day, the new Caesars Palace hotel.
Press trip [We were invited to view the hotel for the day so I could write a review for a travel agent, we were gifted lunch but everything else we paid for]
From the moment we walked in we knew we were at a very special hotel. The entrance and lobby were impressive with art on the ceilings, beautiful furniture and views over the stunning pool and beach area outside.
We were excited to have a look around one of the rooms at the hotel. The room we looked at was a standard double room and was beautifully furnished with a stunning bathroom taking over half of the room. The outside was a small but gorgeous balcony with a sofa and a view overlooking the sea and part of the hotel below.
I could imagine myself enjoying a morning coffee on the balcony before the day started, it would be perfect!
We spent the rest of the day at the hotel, soaking up the chilled and laid back atmosphere. We based ourselves on a cabana by the pool and really enjoyed some time to relax. We read our books and were offered ice lollies and cooled water – which was perfect as it was a hot day while we were there!
After a couple of hours relaxing by the pool we headed to the Neptune beach bar to have some lunch. We both had salads and a drink. My chicken Caesar salad was delicious and was the perfect summers day option. I tried a glass of the rose which is my favourite by the sea drink. We enjoyed our lunch as we looked out to the sea and beach which was right by our table.
After lunch we had a walk around the rest of the hotel, taking in the views from the sandy beach (which looked out to open sea and also some of the palm) and then checked out the other dining options. We loved the look of Gordon Ransays Hells Kitchen which is based by the lobby of the hotel and is stunning. This would be a fantastic almost theatrical experience in the evening and the food looked divine!
As the sun started to set and it got a little cooler we decided to find a bar where we could watch the sunset. We headed to one of the hotel bars on the 1st level which had an amazing view of the pool area and out to open sea. We both decided to have a Gin and tonic which was served in the biggest glass with the most enormous ice cube which apparently takes 7 days to make as it doesn’t have bubbles in it so you could hardly see it in your drink! (Only in Dubai)!
We enjoyed our G&T’s and the view so much we bought two more and as it got dark we said goodbye to Caesars Palace hotel and headed over the water to the mainland for dinner.
On our final day we were super lucky to be treated to breakfast at Atmosphere restaurant on the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa.
A little background first, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and of course, lots of people who visit Dubai want to head to the viewing platform 124 floors up… I had heard from friends and our host that the viewing platform can get very busy and you don’t really get much time up there, so the overwhelming recommendation was to have drinks or breakfast at Atmosphere which is part of the Armani Hotel situated in the Burj Khalifa.
We went on the recommendation and with our friends had our last few hours in Dubai there. We were blown away by the breakfast with pastries, exquisite fruit, waffles and pancakes – it served every taste and had every option! We loved looking down at Dubai, seeing sights such as The Palm, The World and the tall buildings we thought were up there with the Burj Khalifa looked like LEGO bricks! It really was a special way to see the city, see the building and have a very lovely last breakfast.
So that’s it Dubai in four days! I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you some ideas for holidays in Dubai…
My final word of advice… Taxis.
Taxis. get ubers as the price is up front, we got a taxi as we didn’t have wifi from the Miricle Gardens to The Atlantis and got way overcharged. When we queried it he threatened us with calling the police and said it was on the meter but wouldn’t show us the out of view meter. Be warned! If you’re going from a tourist attraction to a big hotel you *may* get taken for a ride (excuse the pun) so do think about downloading Uber! This was our only really bad experience in Dubai and honestly left me feeling a little shaken, so I would never get in a taxi again.
This was really the only bad experience we had while in Dubai and I think we just had bad luck!
We had the most amazing time in Dubai and I am desperate to go back!
*When we were on press trips it has been noted in the copy, all thoughts are my own*