Check in to Dubai and experience its world-class hotels, from boutique hideaways to seaside stunners
A city known for its architectural landmarks, Dubai also has its fair share of iconic hotels. The poster child for luxury hospitality has to be Burj Al Arab Jumeriah. The world’s only so-called ‘seven-star’ hotel, where Federer and Agassi famously staged a rally on the helipad, its opulence and reputation for ultra-discrete service still attracts the rich and famous to its OTT all-suite setting.
Also high-up on the list of local record breakers, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai (pictured above) makes the most of its world’s tallest hotel status with 72 floors dedicated to five-star indulgence and guestrooms boasting some of the best views of the city skyline. Splurge on a night in the top floor split-level penthouse with its mesmerising floor-to-ceiling window views.
Heading downtown, and occupying an enviable location at the heart of the world’s tallest building, is the understated yet elegant Armani Hotel Dubai – one of only two Armani hotels in the world. The renowned Italian designer has put his personal stamp on every inch of the property, from the use of Armani Casa linens and homeware to the impeccably stylish collection of restaurants.
Another Italian brand with designs on Dubai is Palazzo Versace Dubai, which brings a touch of 16th century palatial decadence to the emerging Culture Village district on the banks of Dubai Creek. A Neoclassical-meets-Arabian architecturally landscaped resort, the interiors and bespoke furnishings in each of its 215 rooms scream Donatella’s vibrant influence.
Dubai has its fair share of iconic hotels
Follow in the footsteps of supermodel Bella Hadid and Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander by heading to Bulgari Resort Dubai – the fifth international property for the design legend, which opened in December 2016. With the added attraction of its own private mini manmade island location off the Jumeirah coastline, a swanky line-up of high-end eateries, and the world’s first Bulgari Marina and Yacht Club, it has quickly become a favourite among discerning travellers.
The luxury island lifestyle is a given on Palm Jumeirah, where the world’s best hotel brands compete for attention. Thai-inspired escapism is guaranteed at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, which is home to the only over-water villas in the emirates, making it an especially popular choice for honeymooners.
Holistic health and wellness is the theme at The Retreat Palm Dubai – MGallery By Sofitel. It is home to the world’s first Rayya Wellness Center, which is dedicated to helping guests transform their body, mind and soul for the better, but the soothing views of the city coastline in the distance are enough to make you feel fabulous.
Also situated on the island’s crescent, the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is the physical epitome of this legendary hotel brand nestled in a super exclusive Dubai setting. It’s also a dining hotspot thanks to the resident three Michelin-starred talent of Heinz Beck at his Social restaurant.
Take a drive back down the trunk of the manmade wonder to the family-friendly Fairmont The Palm. Relaxation is the watchword for a stay here with the highly-rated Falcon Kids’ Club for little ones, the award-winning Willow Stream Spa for parents, and the fabulous Little Miss India restaurant – decked out in contemporary colonial décor – for all. We recommend opting for an upgraded Fairmont Gold room, which comes complete with executive lounge access, plus a host of other benefits.
Alternatively, there’s the new and glamorous FIVE Palm Jumeirah, with its innovative architecture and Ottoman-inspired spa (try the MarocMaroc Hammam Ritual for top-to-toe instant renewal).
Dubai is an easily navigable city, which means you can base your hotel decision on more than mere accessibility. Unrestricted views of the Dubai Water Canal seal the deal at Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, which is also within walking distance of Burj Khalifa for a double location whammy.
Another H2O-centric option is the exclusive Nikki Beach Resort and Spa. Set on the private Pearl Jumeira island development, the Dubai incarnation of the Miami-meets-Mediterranean, all-white brand comes with calming views of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai skyline – glorious sunsets a bonus.
Back on the mainland, Dubai Marina’s swathe of luxury hotels includes anchor properties like Grosvenor House, a stalwart of the new Dubai scene and an ever-popular restaurant hub with the likes of Rhodes W1 and Toro Toro favourites among the city’s social set.
Dubai is an easily navigable city, which means you can base your hotel decision on more than mere accessibility
Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites is also a top rated option for travellers looking to be in the heart of the action and close to beach, shopping, and after-dark activities.
Further along the coastline, heading north, is another enduring favourite: the maritime-inspired Jumeirah Beach Hotel, whose distinctive wave shape and action-packed roster of amenities and choice of 19 dining venues make it the perfect family destination. Add the fact that the city’s first water park, Wild Wadi, is a neighbour and there’s no need to even leave the confines of the resort.
Just next door, Jumeirah Al Naseem delivers laidback luxury with décor inspired by Dubai’s pearl diving history and a beach-chic ambience. Families also gravitate here craving the monster milkshakes and craft burgers at New York import Black Tap.
Cut inland to the city’s main arterial route, Sheikh Zayed Road, and luxury hospitality comes at you thick and fast. The sprawling Al Habtoor City complex overlooking Dubai Water Canal is home to a trio of five-star residences comprising The St. Regis Dubai (Beaux-Arts magnificence at every turn with more than a nod to the New York original), W Dubai – Al Habtoor City (too cool for school with its signature funked up interiors and high-rise party hotspot, The Wet Deck) and The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City (the largest Westin-branded hotel in the Middle East, Europe and Africa). They’re a stroll away from Dubai’s number one theatre attraction, La Perle by Dragone.
A superb four-star property, the all-suite concept of Gloria Hotel offers apartment style living and is great for families. We love its spacious gym with city views – ideal for an invigorating, early morning workout.
As you work your way towards the shining spire that is Burj Khalifa, a stopover in the lively Business Bay district reveals a rapidly growing alliance of top-end properties including local editions of two legendary Indian chains. An intoxicating fusion of heritage and contemporary style at Taj Dubai blends Indian artistry with traditional influences. Throw in guestroom views of Burj Khalifa and an al fresco table at rooftop oasis lounge, Treehouse, and it’s a match made in heaven.
Meanwhile, The Oberoi, Dubai is just minutes from The Dubai Mall. We can’t get enough of the Deluxe Suites with their own private balcony – all you need is some room service, a gorgeous sunset and life is pretty near perfect.
Coming to shop? No problem. Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is mere footsteps from your favourite stores, so you don’t need to worry about lugging all those bags of designer goodies very far. Plus, if one-of-a-kind accommodation floats your boat, then the quirky Ski Chalet styled rooms overlooking the indoor Ski Dubai slope will do nicely.
Close to the retail action at The Dubai Mall and located on the bustling Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, boutique hotel Vida Downtown Dubai offers cosy contemporary charm, posh French dining at La Serre and the delightfully kitsch Vida Food Truck (grab a quick coffee before hitting the mall’s 1,200 stores). After a tough day of retail therapy, the hotel’s white muslin-curtained poolside cabanas are just the ticket.
Boutique hospitality with shopping opportunities on the doorstep also comes courtesy of the super stylish La Ville Hotel & Suites CITY WALK, Dubai. Situated at the heart of City Walk, one of Dubai’s most chi-chi urban lifestyle destinations, this low-rise property is a magnet for visiting fashionistas and influencers.
A modern metropolis from many angles, visitors looking to soak up a little more history and get to the root of the city’s cultural origins should cross the Garhoud Bridge to the Deira side of town and the banks of Dubai Creek, its historic heartland. Nestled in beyond the greens and berths of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, the tranquil Park Hyatt Dubai is a gem of a hotel. Soothing creek views are guaranteed from your balcony or terrace while eight themed Spa Rooms come with a bespoke full-on spa experience (failing that, the hotel’s Amara Spa with its private courtyards and garden is simply sensational).
Dubai’s first five-star hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, remains a firm favourite among local residents and repeat visitors alike and its dining options are a major draw. Indeed, a visit this side of the creek waters should include dinner at modern Emirati culinary exponent, Aseelah, or the ever-popular Fish Market.
Dive deeper into the neighbourhood streets and you’ll find JW Marriott Hotel Dubai, another veteran of the Deira scene and home to legendary multi-cuisine venue The Market Place. It’s also a great starting point from which to explore a side of the city that not everyone gets to see once ensconced in the comfort of their beachfront sun lounger.
Close by, Avani Deira Dubai Hotel fuses international style with Arabian tradition and its helpful concierges are masters in planning the perfect Deira sightseeing itinerary.
Equestrian activity is the hook out at The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club where you can ride, play or simply relax in a nature-driven setting far from the madding crowd.
Visitors looking to soak up a little more history and get to the root of the city’s cultural origins should cross the Garhoud Bridge to the Deira side of town
Conventional flamboyance also goes out the window with a stay at Desert Palm Dubai, another polo community sited resort set in 160 acres of greenery and sand with just 38 rooms, suites and villas perfecting the ideal of the quintessential hideaway.
One of the city’s best-kept secrets (and we admit, we are loathe to share the details), Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai is in a category all of its own. Set deep in the shifting sand dunes of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a brief sojourn within the luxurious confines of this all-suite oasis will imbue a deep sense of bliss that lingers long after you leave. The only downside? You will have to share this slice of paradise with passing Arabian Oryx, wheeling falcons overhead and the occasional wandering camel. Escapist experiences feature strongly in the schedule of Dubai’s lifestyle-oriented hotels and Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection Hotels offers the ultimate experiential stay due to its immersive location within Dubai Parks and Resorts’ borders. Once you’ve had your fill of fun at Legoland Dubai, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai, this Polynesian inspired resort tempts you with a lazy river, heated pools, rooftop bar and laidback tropical atmosphere. We apologise for talking about leaving so soon, but if you’re only in Dubai for a short while and would prefer to stay near the airport, we recommend a stay at Roda Al Bustan in Garhoud. Literally a couple of minutes by taxi from departures, Roda Al Bustan’s take on Arabian luxury make it a popular traveller’s choice and Hibachi restaurant (fronted by ingredient-juggling chefs who love to entertain) is a fun location for your last meal before flying. Next door, Le Méridien Dubai’s spacious, soundproofed rooms ensure sweet dreams – just don’t forget to set the alarm.