Space-age skyscrapers glittering in the searing Gulf sunlight; palm tree-shaped artificial islands; blingy brand-plastered malls with living walls and waterfalls… All of it spread between a cobalt sea and desert sprawl. Whether you love Dubai’s glitz and glam bravado or feel intimidated by it, it’s hard not to be wowed. And it’s so easy to stop over in the UAE if you’re flying pretty much anywhere beyond Europe. If you fancy a longer stay, it makes sense to rent a place of your own – here are our favourite apartments in Dubai.
These large, functional apartments overlook the racecourse, just a 10-minute taxi ride from Palm Jumeirah and downtown Dubai. The rates are ludicrously competitive: £80 will buy you a generous Premium Sky Studio that’ll sleep three adults and two children. Interiors are easy on the eye: light greys and beiges, eggshell chairs, shower rooms with generous mirrors, and there’s a rooftop pool and bar. For super sunset views, take an upper-floor, west-facing room.
The rooms are of the visually undemanding kind that could belong to any big-brand overnight inn: swathes of taupes and beiges, dark wood-laminate floors, foamy sofas and fitted desks. But Al Khoory is well located near the metro, a 10-minute cab ride from Al Sufouh Beach and there’s 24-hour service, a pool, steam-room and sauna. If you’re too tired and hungry to step out, flop in-house at Spices Restaurant, for a plate of Arabic mezze or a salade niçoise.
Perched over a busy, multi-lane highway, the Mercure isn’t the best place for a beach holiday – the sea is a hot half-hour walk – but its large apartments are perfectly lovely. You’ll have plenty of lounge space to stretch out in, and a roomy kitchen for home cooking. There are two pools – indoor and rooftop – and above the 30th floor, the traffic noise is barely a whisper.
Plain white walls, wood veneer, orange-check curtains, fluorescent lighting – rooms at the Golden Sands probably won’t end up in House & Garden, but they’re just the job for self-caterers on a budget. You’ll have a kitchenette, a washing machine and (for Dubai) a low price. Just note that you’re in northern Dubai, in an non-glitzy workers’ neighbourhood. It’s a 20-minute walk to the metro station and an hour’s ride from there to Jumeirah Beach.
Flora Creek’s apartments are modern and relatively modish by conservative local standards – with glass tables, tall, light-beckoning windows, separate dining and sleeping spaces and even a splash of art on the walls. And there’s a big indoor pool with jacuzzis. But this is Dubai Creek, and while the airport is 2km (1.2mi) away, you’ll face a long metro ride to Dubai’s best sands. In a nutshell: a great base for fly-in business meetings rather than beachy breaks.
Savoy Central, it should be said, isn’t exactly central: this big, blocky building is close to Dubai Maritime City and the cruise terminal, in the far north of the Emirate. But there’s a rooftop pool, the metro station is a stroll away and the well-appointed, nicely priced rooms are attractive, with confectionery tones (caramel-and-Bournville striped carpets, coffee-cream sofas). Business-like workstations and kitchenettes are part of the deal, too.
Rooms may be spartan, small (and noisy on the lower floors), and service might be found wanting here and there, but Dubai locations don’t get much better: Barasti Beach Bar is an easy stroll away when you fancy a Cosmopolitan or a Budweiser and a quinoa salad. The metro is no distance from the door, and the upmarket restaurants and sci-fi skyscrapers of the Marina gleam all around. Best of all, the rates are refreshingly low.
The big-brand name Marriott is reassuring, and the property doesn’t let you down. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom pads – some balconied – in sunny orange shades with contemporary-corporate furnishings (leather-look sofas). From the upper-floor rooms (and the rooftop pool), you’ll get good views out over the dhows in Dubai Creek. The city centre and the best beaches are a half-hour metro ride away, but the airport is on the doorstep.
Bright, spacious and coolly decorated in creams and taupes, suites at the Suha certainly feel fresh and modern by comparison with many Dubai hotels in this price bracket. The property is nicely located, too – in the heart of the Emirate’s swish and swanky Marina district, a few minutes’ walk from Jumeirah Beach. But don’t put up with an inferior room – some are in need of a refurb – and book one above the 15th floor to enjoy those spangly skyline views.
You’re a considerable drive from the beach and downtown Dubai. But if you’ve stopped over for a quick 24-hour recharge and need to catch an early plane, the J5 is the business. Affordable rates will give you sweet dreams, and rooms are pleasingly simple – lilac and white walls, dark-wood veneers, polished floor tiles or office carpets. Avoid getting sweaty and arrive by cab: the metro is a half-kilometre (0.3mi) walk, and the airport is less than 5km (3mi) away.
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