Tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to stay in Dubai, with literally thousands of hotels vying for business – and it’s big business: by 2022 the UAE’s hospitality market is expected to reach about £5.9 billion. As the city gears up to host the World Expo 2020, more and more hotels are opening to cope with the expected influx of visitors from all over the globe. More than ever, hotels are diversifying to have you stay the night, from glamping trailers and budget rooms to outrageously over-the-top luxury. Here’s our pick of the best hotels in Dubai.
Feel at home at Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The greens
Not every Dubai hotel will break the bank, so when searching for a cheaper option, you won’t find much better than the new Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens. It’s located in an area called The Greens, close to Dubai’s main highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. That shouldn’t put you off though, as it’s slap-bang in the middle of all the tourist hot spots, including the beach, which is just a five-minute drive. The building is brand new, the rooms are spacious and modern, and the entertainment includes a pub quiz with unlimited chicken wings. There’s also a popular rooftop shisha lounge to relax in. Be quick though, the 210 rooms book up fast.
Any trip to Dubai should include a visit to the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa stands a staggering 828 metres (2,717 feet) high. The Armani Hotel occupies the bottom eight floors, along with levels 38 and 39. As you walk inside, you’ll find marble and Japanese tatami wooden floors, lobbies lined with jewellery displays, with interiors by fashion designer Giorgio Armani himself. The hotel has 160 rooms in 11 different categories. In the more luxurious rooms, you can expect iPad-controlled curtains and lights, rain shower bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows displaying Dubai’s downtown area. It houses five restaurants with varying cuisine including Japanese, Indian and Italian. The hotel is located a stone’s throw from the magnificent Dubai fountain show – which is a must if you’re in town.
With thousands of luxury hotels on Palm Jumeirah – and new ones continuing to open – the place-to-be-seen in Dubai changes year on year. Currently, Five Palm has a good claim to the crown thanks to its photo-friendly pool and rooftop bar, The Penthouse. It’s certainly a new favourite with celebrities and influencers – and even if you’re not into social media, it’s hard not to stay here and fill your camera roll with snaps. It has 468 rooms and is located at the base of Palm Jumeirah, meaning you avoid any traffic jams when entering and leaving, and it’s perfectly located for pictures of the Dubai marina skyscrapers.
Glamping experience Sedr Trailers Resort is a haven for those who love the great outdoors | Courtesy of Sedr Trailers Resort / Booking.com
Located in Hatta, an enclave of Dubai about an hour’s drive away from Downtown, Sedr Trailers Resort opened in late 2018 and offers the full glamping experience, with fire pits, outdoor couches and BBQ facilities. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountains and a place to enjoy for those who love the great outdoors with activities like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and even axe-throwing on offer. The resort closes in the summer months from May until October – and yes, there is Wi-Fi.
Not everyone wants to come to Dubai and stay in a skyscraper, which is what makes this place so special. Located in the popular Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam sits in the Venetian-style waterways with impressive views of the Arabian Gulf, close to its sister property the Burj Al Arab. It’s located close to Dubai’s usual hot spots – Palm Jumeirah, Marina and the Mall of Emirates. Jumeirah Mina A’Salam is a throwback to old Dubai with its sand-coloured walls and abras (wooden boats) floating by. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bars and restaurants here, too, with Shimmers serving mouthwatering Greek food and Bahri Bar serving up sundowners as the sun sets over the Arabian Gulf.
One of Dubai’s best-kept secrets is just a 30-minute drive into the desert. This five-star resort is comprised of traditional-looking one- and two-storey villas (115 rooms in total) that blend in to the surrounding Al-Qudra desert. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot desert gazelle and Arabian oryx basking in the sun. It’s a slow pace of life here filled with deep tissue massages, camel rides, infinity pools and jacuzzis. Food-wise, Culture Trip highly recommends the authentic North Indian restaurant, which is a favourite with Dubai Sheikhs. Plus, a pair of coconut fibre slippers greet you as you enter your bedroom – it’s the little things in life.
Gambling is strictly forbidden in the UAE, but that hasn’t stopped one of the world’s most famous Vegas casinos from opening in Dubai. Caesars Palace opened its doors in 2018 as the ‘big name’ signing on the new Bluewaters Island, also home to Ain Dubai – the world’s largest Ferris wheel, set to open in 2020. Guests have the choice of five types of room, the best being those directly facing the pool and sea. Key features in the rooms are the marble bathrooms with double sinks, which ooze luxury. Downstairs you’ll find guests dining at Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen, which although not cheap, is as good as you’d imagine. Those looking to relax can sit by the pool or take part in yoga classes on the private beach. With a location as perfect as this, it doesn’t need any roulette tables to entice guests.
Excited to lay your head down to rest in the world’s first seven-star hotel? Well, you’ll have to choose from the 17 different types of pillows on offer first. The Burj Al Arab, situated between Dubai’s main tourist hubs – Marina and Downtown – needs to be seen to be believed, especially inside. The interior is literally lined with gold – 24 carats at that – and the ceiling is covered in 21,000 Swarovski crystals. Oh, and if you’re one for free hotel shower gels, here you’ll be able to grab Hermès toiletries – full bottles of them. Stays here certainly don’t come cheap, but if it’s uber-luxury you’re after, this is the place to be.
Palm Jumeirah is no stranger to top hotels, and the latest brand to make the man-made island home is the bright and colourful W Dubai. As you walk into the lobby, you’re greeted with a magnificent 30-metre visual sound wave art installation made from 640 pieces of glass. Other light installations wind their way along the long passageways leading out to the pool area. Here you’ll find multiple pools on different levels with private cabanas available. The free-flowing drinks packages on Ladies Day are already a hit with tourists and residents. Upstairs, you’ll find SoBe, a Miami-inspired rooftop bar with stunning views over the Palm. It has almost certainly been built with social media in mind. As for the hotel rooms themselves, there are 350 of them, each with graffiti wall art featuring lyrics and words recalling the region’s cultural history.
It’s not the tallest and it doesn’t have a seven-star rating, but this is arguably Dubai’s most iconic landmark. It was the first resort to open on Dubai’s man-made Palm Jumeriah. As you walk inside you’re greeted by the Grand Lobby, which is home to a stunning Dale Chihuly sculpture – a hand-placed 30-metre-high centerpiece. It’s home to Dubai’s Aquavenure Waterpark, Lost Chambers Aquarium and multiple Michelin-star restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and Bar and Nobu Matsuhisa’s Nobu. There are also two stunning underwater suites stretching over three floors with views of the aquarium from the bedrooms. Despite so many hotels opening around it, Atlantis, the Palm still draws the crowds.