Family-friendly hotels in Dubai vie for attention with world-class water parks, exhilarating ski slopes, epic aquariums and thrilling adventure playgrounds. Gloriously green golf courses abound, and famous faces – from celebrity chefs to cartoon characters – often appear, to make family holidays even more memorable.
The perfect family holidays are made to order in Dubai, with year-round warm weather, miles upon miles of sandy beaches and a multitude of diversions. With amusement parks and rope courses, as well as escape rooms and glow-in-the-dark gardens, it’s the ideal location for family holidays. From budget-friendly accommodation to some seriously blowout options, there are plenty of family-friendly hotels to choose from in Dubai.
Designed with an underwater theme in mind, this hotel features towering technicolour blown-glass sculptures writhing like sea creatures, by American sculptor Dale Chihuly, in the reception area, and a maze of vast aquariums with 65,000 marine inhabitants. Sharks and stingrays glide by as visitors stream through tank-lined corridors en route to the hotel’s famous restaurants, which include Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. Helicopter tours over the Palm, bowling at entertainment complex Wavehouse and diving in the Lost Chambers Aquarium are just some of the activities available. However, the big-ticket attraction is Aquaventure Waterpark, which dares guests to tackle the near-vertical waterslide known as “the Leap of Faith”.
Families flock to the indoor ski resort Ski Dubai to play in the snow park, meet the resident penguins and learn how to ski or board. Blanketed in snow, the indoor ski runs are a novelty in a land of sand dunes and soaring temperatures. Connected to the ski park, Kempinski Mall of the Emirates has ski lodge-style suites, complete with cosy open fireplaces, overlooking the slopes, while on the other side of the resort you can find a sun deck with pools, loungers and an al fresco bar. Where else can you ski one minute and sunbathe the next?
The Polynesian-themed hotel located at Dubai Parks and Resorts, Lapita, gives guests complimentary access to four of the best theme parks in Dubai: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Dubai Waterpark. After sunny days filled with candy floss, cartoon characters and rollercoasters, this hotel welcomes guests back into the palm-tree-filled lobby with an “Aloha!”. Every room, suite and villa comes with a terrace or private balcony, so you can relax after an adrenaline-packed day. Friday brunch, with three hours of unlimited food and drink, becomes a family affair as relatives spill out around the pool. With everything from barbecued meat to a sushi counter, you can sample more than 150 dishes from across the globe here.
For a budget-friendly option that’s still big on style and convenience, stay at Rove At The Park, located in Dubai Parks and Resorts. There are interconnecting rooms designed specifically for families, luggage lockers, a laundrette, a 24-hour gym and an outdoor pool and deck. The Daily cafe serves half-price breakfasts for children aged up to 16, and package deals include passes to Dubai Parks and Resorts. Decorated with abstract art and modern furniture, the Rove also offers gaming zones with arcade machines, PlayStation consoles, foosball tables, mini-golf and table tennis. Bikes are provided free of charge.
From a cinema screen on the beach and themed dinner parties for teenagers, to babysitting services and sand-artistry classes, Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a hive of activity for families of all ages. The main draw of this five-star hotel is the extensive programme of activities available to guests. Children can learn to garden or help feed recovering turtles at a rehab sanctuary. Confident young swimmers can join the lifeguard programme and learn in-water rescue and first aid. Fitness fanatics are spoiled with daily exercise classes, tennis and squash courts and a colossal climbing wall. Trained staff are on hand at Sinbad’s Kids Club, which offers a hub of play areas and pools, and – when only a giant water park will do – there’s Wild Wadi, home to the infamous Jumeirah Sceirah slide.
A world away from Dubai’s busy motorways and malls, this resort is blissfully peaceful. Situated on the southern outskirts of the city, in the port town of Jebel Ali, the hotel is a 20-minute drive from Dubai Marina. However, despite being outside the city centre, guests return year after year for the retreat’s impeccable facilities and the friendly service. Retired tennis and golf pros teach holidaymakers how to perfect their serve and swing. There’s also a shooting range, water sports, an equestrian centre, a spa, swim-up bars, a beach and a private marina offering boat and seaplane tours. From Japanese teppanyaki to British gastropub fare, you will find a smorgasbord of dining options spread across the resort’s three hotels. JA Palm Tree Court has especially family-friendly accommodation with comfortable low-rise suites one minute from the beach, and passing peacocks parading along guests’ terraces.
In the thick of Downtown Dubai, Address Dubai Mall may not seem like an obviously child-friendly choice. However, this city hotel offers guests a large open-air lap pool, a separate children’s pool and an entertainment centre, all attached to a mall tailored specifically towards family adventures. A walk through the Haunted House will certainly bring your tribe closer together. Add to that a luxury cinema, an underwater zoo, a genuine prehistoric 155-million-year-old dinosaur and Kidzania, a miniature world in which children enjoy role play, and you will be guaranteed to have an action-packed holiday.
Aimee Heckel contributed additional reporting to this article.