‘Ah, but what about when the oil runs out?’ finger-wags the dining table diplomat, and the answer is, simply, Dubai. Rather than sitting on an ever diminishing supply of black gold, the emirate has invested wisely, making their little patch of sand an international transportation hub, a financial centre, tourist destination and playground for the rich and famous. It’s a place where Rolls Royces grow on trees and the streets are paved with Rolex.
And it’s one mighty place to stay. Luxury hotels abound and whether you’re looking for somewhere to take the family, planning a romantic getaway for two or scoping out somewhere for a business meeting, the hotels of Dubai are without doubt some of the best in the world.
I know what you’re thinking – ‘Armani make shiny suits for footballers’, and yes, that’s entirely true. But they also measure up smartly when it comes to hotels. And when it comes to measuring up, Burj Khalifa, home of the Armani Hotel Dubai, certainly does at 2,722ft and a spot in the Guiness World Record Book as the world’s tallest building.
So it’s a little disappointing that the hotel occupies only the first eight floors of this megalithic structure. Any tears will quickly dry as you check into your room, with their dark and sumptuous interiors clearly belting their Italian designer heritage. What’s more, check into a suite and you’ll get your view, they’re located on floors 38 and 39!
Where: Burj Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai
Did the Sun King quietly time travel to 21st century Dubai? Judging by the weather, maybe, but the designer who loosed a whole can of Louis XIV over the Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai certainly knew what they were doing, it’s extraordinary.
But amid more gold then Donald Trump’s downstairs loo, this is an incredible hotel. Despite being fashioned on 18th century European palaces, this is a thoroughly modern affair – the 391 hotel has its own half-kilometre beach, a private cinema, stunning spa, Dubai’s largest indoor pool and an incredible outdoor lagoon swimming pool. The hotel also boasts a restaurant from renowned Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, the first the first chef to simultaneously hold three Michelin Stars in three cities.
Where: Crescent West, Dubai
Obviously you know where you stand with Mandarin Oriental, the luxury group needs little introduction, but that doesn’t make Mandarin Oriental Jumeira any less dazzling. The closest beachfront resort to downtown Dubai, the hotel’s tiered balconies and modern designs are sleek and chic, yet timeless. Plus, the six restaurants include Tasca by Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Jose Avillez.
Where: Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai
Business and pleasure meet, for once, at Conrad Dubai. Located right in the financial district of town, the hotel is an ideal staging post for work meetings given it’s literally opposite the World Trade Centre. The 54-storey hotel is great when it comes to enjoyment too, though, check out the pool deck, which is incredible and at odds with the sometimes-serious demeanour of the hotel. Among several eating options, enjoy theatre and food at Maison Rouge, the Euro-Asian fine-dining restaurant.
Where: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Shangri-La Hotel Dubai lives up to every high expectation we have of the group. Literally high, the hotel stretches 42-storeys and boasts some of the best views of the iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Of course, as Londoners, we’re used to views like this from Shangri-La Hotel London The Shard, but nevertheless it doesn’t fail to take the breath away. The rooftop pool (albeit on the fourth floor) is luxurious and turns into a popular nightspot after dark, with international DJs ensuring that the party continues well into the small hours.
Where: Sheikh Zayed Road (Near Financial Metro Station), Dubai
There aren’t many hotels that are truly iconic at a glance. Maybe The Ritz or Savoy in London, Singapore’s Raffles or Marina Bay hotels, or The Taj in Bombay, but among their ranks Burj Al Arab Jumeirah sits foremost. We’ve all seen it in many-a-photo and it never fails to fascinate and impress. And it’s as opulent as you’d imagine, in-your-face dripping with luxury, across the rooms, lobbies and public spaces; they’ve even got a fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms to ferry guests around (partly a necessity given the hotel’s nine miles from the downtown drag). Foodies will be delighted that British chef Nathan Outlaw has an outpost here. Anyone racking up their stays in the world’s most iconic hotels, has to tick this one off their list.
Where: Jumeirah Street, Dubai
I’m not sure about you but one of the most frustrating things about going on holiday is finding somewhere to park the damn super-yacht. Well not at The Bulgari Resort & Residenes Dubai. The private island sits just off the Dubai coastline and brings a slice of the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Designed to be as exquisite as a piece of Bulgari’s jewellery, the resort is as smart as you’d hope and expect, with a pool lined in real gold (only in Dubai, right?), 101 rooms and a restaurant from three-Michelin-star-er Niko Romito. Pop your yacht in at the Bulgari Marina and Yacht Club, or for the landlubbers connect from the mainland to the man-made island via the bridge.
Where: Jumeirah Bay Island, Dubai
Wait, aren’t we meant to be in the desert? While most of Dubai is attempting to rapidly urbanise, the natural landscape of Dubai really shines at Al Maha Resort And Spa. Romantic and eco-friendly, the resort is modelled on a desert fortress and brings old-world Dubai to life, albeit in a seriously luxurious and touristy way. Guests sleep in stand-alone tents (don’t worry, there’s nothing DofE about this place) and during the day set out on a camel trek or watch out for nature, or just take a dip in the your personal plunge pool…
Where: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dubai
For more travel, fly this way…