First things first…If you’re thinking of going to Dubai book for 10 days! We went for 7 and it just wasn’t enough to take in all that Dubai has to offer! 2nd little tip of the holiday is that we took an overnight flight from Heathrow to DXB – that way we arrived bright and early (and by bright and early I really do mean landing as the sun was rising at 5.50am!) BUT you save a night on accommodation which means you can upgrade your room instead! (BTW I’ve linked everything at the bottom of the page 🙂 )
Already a great start to the holiday with a lagoon view room at the Anantara resort on the palm, we’d seen the Anantara in Bali last year and it was mesmerising so I knew I wanted to stay here. We shopped around for the perfect hotel and boy is there a great selection in Dubai! Split into 4 main parts, Downtown Dubai, The Marina, Jumeirah beach and The Palm. We were looking for a quiet relaxing beach getaway so staying in the busy city or business vibes of the marina wasn’t for us.
All the hotels are pretty luxurious, in fact everything is luxurious in Dubai, so you really can’t go wrong when selecting a hotel – other options we looked at were The One and Only, Le Meridien, The Westin, Waldorf Astoria and Atlantis. The Atlantis is surprisingly affordable and it really does look incredible, you’ve got about a gazillion restaurants plus a waterpark but it was just too big for us and very much aimed at families.
The Anantara has a Bali kind of tropical and exotic vibe with a main hotel and beachfront, then nestled in between the two are beautiful blue lagoon waterways outlined by Thai inspired villas. The lower floors are bathed in sunlight with direct lagoon access from steps connected to your terrace and the upper floors enjoying the views below. The lagoon is much quieter than the beachfront and you can float up and down the streams of water peacefully. (Hotel link at bottom of page)
We have 4 restaurants onsite – Revo cafe serving snacks, The Beach House (which I’d love to call my future home one day FYI!) which sits on the beach front serving pretty much anything from steak to nachos AND not to mention the tallest frozen daiquiri I’ve ever seen! This soon became our lunchtime stop for a chicken and jalapeno pizza overlooking the sea and the luxury villas on the palm leaves owned by the likes of The Beckhams, Madonna and countless foreign diplomats. In the distance the silhouette of The Atlantis perches on the skyline.
There’s also an oriental restaurant called Mekong voted one of the best restaurants on the palm as well as Bushman’s Australian steakhouse complete with happy hour from 5-7. Then there’s Crescendo where breakfast is served and The Lotus Lounge sat on top with views over the infinity pool to the beach and the sea. The also have happy hour and the best snacks to watch the sun go down.
So what did we actually get up to in Dubai? Besides taking the first 2 days to literally do nothing an unattach ourselves from real life and its responsibilities and routine. When we first arrived at the hotel it was 7am and our room was unlikely to be ready until 3pm. We knew that in advance though so I’d pre booked us into Sunday brunch at Nikki Beach. A dining, beach club, entertainment, fashionable venue and lifestyle brand with worldwide recognition created by Jack Penrod, named ‘Nikki’ after his daughter who died in a car crash in 1997.
When a place is so far off the beaten track, set amongst what looks like industrial docklands and absolutely impossible to reach without a car (you’re certainly not stumbling across it on a stroll) – I guess that’s why their motto is ‘Tell only your closest friends’ – yet there’s a parking lot full of cars you’d expect to see on a racetrack and a queue out the door, you know a place is doing well! Nikki Beach was packed out and I felt glad to have made a booking.
The girls here are my kinda girls, they parade around like a flock of flamingos in fashionable asymmetric one pieces, elegant kimonos flowing behind them in the light breeze as they totter to their tables in 5 inch heels. The men wear light pastel shirts embossed with emblems of high end designers, smart shorts and brightly coloured Tods. This is a place for the entertainers, the cash splashers and the attention seekers. I knew we’d enjoy it here, for the people watching alone!
Brunch was great, although like everything in Dubai, extravagant and as I like to pick at my food like a little bird, to consume 6 fairly sized portions was a bit overwhelming. The unlimited sparkling wine and mocktails were well received though! After our courses of canapes, sushi, meat platter, an entire break basket, full size main course of chicken curry and then the pudding tray – we took to a sun bed to watch the sun go down to the sound of club classics, new and old. (Scroll down for Nikki Beach info and link to book)
Like I mentioned earlier we took the next 2 days to do nada (what’s a holiday for hey?) Once we’d settled into our daily holiday routine (isn’t it funny we try and escape everyday routines by going on holiday to then create a holiday routine, although I’m sure you’ll agree there’s nothing like a holiday routine!). We get up at 8am, head for breakfast consisting of the biggest buffet ever, I always had egg, bacon, sausage and beans, maybe a homemade pancake with syrup, followed by a pain au chocolat and butter croissant with jam, a glass of fresh orange and a tea. And it’s true that holidays can open you up to new adventures, I even ate a bowl of fruit for breakfast one day, I’d never even tried passion-fruit or a kiwi before so why not start now?
We sat on summery wicker tables and chairs set overlooking the pool and when asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside it was always ‘outside’ I need every bit of sunshine I can get! We’d then head back to our room, I’d change into one of my 8 bikinis, grab the inflatable duck float we’d named Ducky that we bought on day 2 and head to our spot by the lagoon. I’d then proceed to float around on said duck for about 45 minutes whilst Luke read before our sunbathing spot became bathed in sunlight. And relax…
After recuperating from everyday life and having relaxed just about enough, on day 4 we were ready to explore! We booked afternoon tea at Atmosphere situated on the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa AKA the tallest building in the world. Some clients that I moved from Dubai to London told us this trick which I’m happily passing on to you guys!
Instead of herding like cattle into the tourist packed elevators of ‘At the top’, the viewing platform on floor 124 for the equivalent of £50 for 30 mins, book a cream tea or drinks reservation in Atmosphere connected to the Armani hotel. Ok so the afternoon tea was blimmin’ expensive (about £130pp) but soooo worth it! Plus Dubai love a good all inclusive bar, which for a country that doesn’t really drink I find really bizarre, but who am I to argue with sparkling wine on tap.
Being a London girl I’m pretty sure I can consume £130 worth of prosecco in one sitting! The views were stunning, you could see out to the palm, overlook the other skyscrapers below, make out the shape of the world islands in the distance and all with the clearest skies we’d had, we got lucky! Again, so much food! Finger sandwiches, a main course and a 3 tier sweet tray complete with plain and chocolate scones and assortment of cakes.
We devoured the entirety whilst being serenaded by a violinist. It’s true what they say about Dubai, you really are treated like Kings! Side note if you’re visiiting Atmosphere, men no shorts or trainers allowed so be prepared! (Link to Atmosphere at bottom of page)
Oh I must mention that before we ventured to the height where you look down on helicopters and directly into the eyes of seagull, we of course had to look round the Dubai Mall! Without being rude, this shopping center shits all over Westfield! Ok that was rude, but you get the point! We also watched the Dubai fountains which really took me back to Vegas at the Bellagio.
The fountains do a display everyday at 1pm and 1.30pm apart from Friday when they are at 1.30pm and 2pm then every half hour from 6pm – 11pm. Apparently they are beautiful at night! Of course I had to treat myself to a little somethin’ from the mall, I mean you can’t go the the world’d biggest shopping mall and not buy something! My purchase came in the shape of a pink Guess over the shoulder hand bag.
Thursday was another day of activity and another must do Dubai experience ticked off the list. We had booked a desert safari, in the end through our hotel with a company called Arabian adventures. We did look online before we came but with so much choice and no personal recommendations we decided to play it safe. So we were collected from our hotel around 3.20pm in a huge 4×4 which seats 6. Then you’re driven for an hour into the desert where they make a quick pit stop to let air out of the tyres to broaden the footprint of the vehicle for better grip in the sand dunes (technical hey!).
Then our list, long list, of activities began: Including a falcon display to start, then 20 minutes of dune bashing, so basically driving like crazy over sand dunes, stopping to watch the sunset and then driving to the campsite. Situated in the middle of the desert almost like an army camp but with free camel rides!
We tried our hand at dune surfing too, basically snowboarding on sand, although I had to sit down on my board because I didn’t have the appropriate footwear (story of my life, when have I ever worn appropriate footwear to anything?) but hey I actually think it was more fun this way! We then headed for the buffet style dinner with traditional belly dancing entertainment.
All of this for the equivalent of £80 each is just crazy good! Oh and did I mention drinks were included, again! (To book your Arabian Adventure scroll down for link)
On to Friday which is actually Dubai’s Saturday, you see their weekend is Friday Saturday then back to work and the start of the week Sunday, and there’s only one thing to do on Friday in Dubai – BRUNCH! We met up with a couple of friends and headed to Bubbaliscious at The Westin, which is one of the best in the business of Brunch or so according to blogs and reviews that I’d extensively researched.
It did not disappoint, a sea of well dressed people flocked with us into the foyer like they were attending a Gatsby party, classic feel good tunes pumped through the speakers from the live entertainment, stilt walkers towered above the guests juggling and prancing around. You were given a coloured wristband indicating to the waiters whether you could partake in the all inclusive bar, giving you access to Captain Morgan’s daiquiris, whole watermelons full of flavoured vodka and literally a whole new meaning to rose all day!
The food options spanned about 4 huge halls with all kinds of cuisines from Asian to Italian, complete with seafood bar, cheese and meat hall, fresh fruit and sweet selection of cupcakes that would make Peggy Porschen jealous, ice creams, tartes, cheesecakes and to top it all off a chocolate fountain. (Bubbaliscious brunch reservation link at the bottom of the page)
What a way to end our trip, Dubai has been everything I imagined and more! The weather was incredible, the food exquisite and the service exceptional. We didn’t get to do half the things we had planned like a zip wire, walk around the marina, take a boat trip, visit the Miracle garden and maybe even jump out of a plane. But that’s a whole other holiday right there!
Until next time Dubai! Scroll down for links to our adventures and my Dubai top tips…
Where we went
My Dubai top tips
- Stay for 10 days! There’s so much to do!
- Burj Khalifa and Desert Safari and Brunch are must dos! The things I would have liked to do were the Miracle Garden, STK, the Marina and maybe a sky dive over the palm!
- It isn’t as strict as you think, it’s actually quite westernised so shorts and Tshirts are acceptable in public.
- It’s expensive, no ways around that I’m afraid!
- Divide the AED price by 5 for pound equivalent
- Visit between November and April otherwise it’s too hot!
- It takes ages to get anywhere so taxis are inevitable, make sure you get the ones that say RTA on the side (It’s about 50 mins from airport to The Palm and 30 mins from The Palm to Downtown)
- Take an overnight flight to arrive bright and early and save on a night’s accommodation
Any questions just ask! I’d love to hear your Dubai tales too…