Cheap hotels might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of Dubai, but they do exist. In recent years, a crop of innovative, design-led, low-budget hotels has popped up across the city, creating affordable accommodation in an emirate once dominated by five-star resorts.
Low-cost hotels have arrived in Dubai, bringing a much greater variety of accommodation styles to the emirate. Today, the city’s best budget hotels with three- and four-star ratings deliver affordable, high-end service with cutting-edge facilities. Far from being basic, some of Dubai’s budget hotels offer sparkling rooftop pools, 24-hour gyms and console gaming booths. Late-night cocktail bars, primped restaurants and even the occasional boutique cinema add to the attractions, while stylish Smeg fridges are among the designer accessories in on-trend rooms. These are the cheapest hotels in Dubai that’ll make you feel like a million dirhams.
Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens
Explore Dubai’s uptown and downtown areas from Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens | Courtesy of Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens / Hotels.com
With its immensely hip bar-restaurants Social Company and LAH LAH, the upscale-casual, four-star Zabeel House by Jumeirah has brought Dubai’s millennials to a previously overlooked residential area. Now a social hub, popular with buzzing after-work crowds and Friday brunch revellers, it’s conveniently and centrally located just off Dubai’s main highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. Guests stay in New York loft-style rooms with Smeg accessories and have access to a fully organic spa, gym and pool. More branches of this chain can be found next to the Dubai Creek in the Al Seef development, near Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.
At this futuristic, four-star hotel on the Deira side of ‘Old Dubai’, heritage meets high-tech with a rooftop cinema crowned by a retractable ceiling. Here, guests can watch the stars on the big screen – or the starry skies above – while snacking on popcorn in reclining seats. Rooms are comfortable and have a stylish design. The suites take inspiration from films, with Bollywood, Hollywood, Agent or Superhero themes. The soup dumplings at Han Shi Fu are excellent, and the skyline views from W XYZ Bar provide a fabulous backdrop. If you prefer endless sea vistas, check in to Aloft Palm, a rare slice of budget accommodation on Dubai’s famous man-made, tree-shaped island, lined with footballer-owned real estate.
Despite having only three stars, this modern, mammoth budget hotel located on Dubai’s Happiness Street puts smiles on its guests’ faces. The hotel proudly boasts a PlayStation gaming booth, 24-hour gym and rooftop pool facing the Burj Khalifa. For added convenience, there’s luggage storage and a launderette. The gallery-like lobby sets the tone with abstract artworks made from Emirati ephemera, including a framed flower print made from burqas and a caravan of model camels climbing the wall. Rooms feature a magnolia colour scheme, but they’re well equipped with televisions and single pull-out sofa beds. There’s another Rove hotel in glitzy Dubai Marina and one in Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Set in Wadi Hub, an area at the base of the rugged Hatta mountain area, the Damani Lodges Resort is a premium budget offering. The resort features individual units made from container cabins cantilevered into the sloping rock face. Inside, there are en-suite shower rooms, air-conditioning and televisions. Furnished terraces extend the living space. The café, food truck and adventure playground – offering activities such as axe-throwing, archery, rope courses and zorbing – are shared with neighbouring Hatta Caravan Park, which provides luxurious, fully fitted caravans. There is also the Sedr Trailer Resort, which offers rooms fashioned from vintage-style Airstream trailers that include individual porches.
Nestled among the tangled maze of alleys that make up Bur Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, where the first Emiratis settled, is the XVA Art Hotel. Courtyard-facing double rooms, each uniquely decorated, share space with a contemporary art gallery, concept store and café. This hotel is one of Dubai’s beloved hideaways, frequented by creative types and history buffs. Even if you don’t stay here, pop in to soak up the city’s history by wandering through the old coral limestone buildings, and enjoy vegetarian fare in the café. Also, be sure to browse the latest exhibitions and dig through vintage and handcrafted wares.
A 136-room, four-star hotel, FORM is Dubai’s only Design Hotels-branded property, with spacious Art Deco-infused rooms overlooking the deepest innards of Dubai Creek. Its location in Al Jaddaf may seem a tad isolated, but the area has a metro station linking to all the main attractions. The hotel boasts a rooftop gym and half-Olympic-length swimming pool, plus a few healthy dining options on site. Only a stone’s throw away is the utterly over-the-top Palazzo Versace Dubai hotel, which hosts elegant afternoon teas and restaurants papered with the fashion brand’s famous prints. Only a short walk away is Jameel Arts Centre, which is free to enter and filled with contemporary exhibitions sharing a compelling visual narrative on the Middle East.
Thanks to its remote Dubai Studio City location – between the gated community of Arabian Ranches and Motor City – this hotel offers nightly rates that are consistently among Dubai’s lowest. Perhaps best suited to the business traveller who can expense cab fares, this four-star hideaway offers plenty of perks. Facilities include a mini-cinema, gym, pool, spa and launderette. All rooms feature rain showers, yoga mats, Pop art and Audrey Hepburn murals and come in family-friendly configurations (doubles with sofa beds, lounge space and kitchenettes and even bunk beds). Pick up snacks at self-service pantries on each floor and the grab-and-go counter in the lobby, or dine in at the on-site American restaurant, The Maine Street Eatery.