If, like me, you crave sunshine in the winter then Dubai is the perfect spot…only a seven hour flight from London and you arrive in the shiny, perpetually sunny metropolis that is Dubai. And, as well as soaking up that vitamin D, there are loads of ways to while away your time – my top ten (in no particular order) are…
1. Sundowners with a view
Dubai has a mesmerising and constantly changing skyline and what better way to experience it than over sunset cocktails…
Atmosphere a bar situated on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa offers unparallelled views over Dubai.
And the views get even better when the sun goes down (if a little hard to photograph well!)
N.B. booking ahead and chic/glam attire is necessary
My other favourite spot is Neo’s, on the 63rd floor of the Address Downtown. The bar itself has some pretty out there (possibly even gaudy?!) décor but nab yourself a window seat and you get some of the best views of the Burj Khalifa,
as well as the world’s largest fountain show (in which, while ‘dancing’ to hits such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the jets reach a height of a 50 storey building!)
Dubai arguably offers some of the best shopping in the world…Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world boasting every shop you could possibly imagine from high end to high street to electronic to homeware. My favourite shop is the Level Shoe District which stocks lovely creations for your feet from 300 designers – all laid out in a beautifully designed store…it really is shoe shopping heaven.
The mall also has loads of restaurants and cafes – lots of which have a view of the famous fountain show – which while a little gimmicky really is impressive!
* This view is taken from Asado – a really tasty Argentinean steak restaurant.
3. The Aquarium
The Dubai Mall not only offers shops and restaurants but also one of the world’s largest aquariums, where you can watch over 140 species of fish, shark and ray go by. For more on the full experience check out yesterday’s post here.
4. Indulge in some fine dining
Hakkasan, Nobu, Zuma, Buddha Bar…outposts of many of the world’s most revered restaurants can be found in Dubai. My favourite spot to indulge, however, has to be Pierchic …as much for the location as for the food.
Set at the end of a pier off the Madinat Jumeirah’s beach, the delicious Mediterranean cuisine is accompanied by lightly lapping waves and an incredible view of the Burj Al Arab.
Staying with the food theme, if you’re in town for a Friday then you’d be really missing out if you didn’t book in for one of Dubai’s (in)famous brunches. While they aren’t cheap, you can definitely get your money’s worth at these all you can eat, all you can drink affairs (the brunch at Al Qasr in the Madinat Jumeirah requires a map the array of food on offer is so large). The atmosphere at the brunches varies significantly – from classy and sophisticated, to family affairs, to the down right excessive. My personal favourite has to be the brunch at Traiteur in the Park Hyatt Dubai where the quality of food and champagne is particularly high and the atmosphere more refined than some but without being stuffy.
6. Explore the desert
One of the best things I have done in Dubai is to get out of the city itself…we had an amazing, relaxing and luxurious experience at the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa which I couldn’t recommend enough.
Not only is it beautiful but the resort puts on all sorts of activities (camel riding, dune buggying, falconry) which allow you to discover all the desert has to offer. For more details check out the full post here.
7. Beach Club
A top ten for Dubai could hardly miss what is arguably it’s main draw…the sun…or more specifically surroundings in which to enjoy it! One of my favourite places to treat myself is the Meydan Beach Club – which offers day-guests infinity pools, a private beach, delicious poolside food and drinks, a spa and a gym. The highlight of Meydan for me is the amazing in-pool loungers so you can soak up the sun without getting too hot. Happy days!
Alternatively, there are countless hotels in Dubai each more opulent than the next and most will let you spend a day by their pool or on their private beach (for a fee).
If your purse strings can’t reach to the day charges (which can be a little steep), the newly opened Beach is a great place to spend the day with loads of different restaurants and cafes, shops and even an outdoor cinema all on the beach front.
8. Indoor skiing
If, for any reason, the glaring sunshine makes you miss the cold back home then there is (of course…given this is Dubai!) a solution. Set within the Mall of the Emirates is a ski ‘resort’ spanning 22,500 meters complete with five different runs (one of which is supposedly a black but I wasn’t totally convinced by their rating system!), real snow, a chair lift and a chalet themed restaurant.
While not the most challenging of skiing, a couple of hours at Ski Dubai is really fun and, if you are a beginner, I imagine it would be a great place to get your ski legs. And if you don’t fancy skiing but still want a blast of cold there is a snow park where visitors can zorb, toboggan or bobsleigh through the snow and even ‘meet’ real-life penguins.
9. Cool off at a Water Park
I tend to get itchy feet just lying horizontal in the sun but, like many a Londoner, am loathe to give up sunbathing opportunities. Dubai offers a great solution – water parks where you can catch your thrills while simultaneously catching some rays. I really enjoyed Wild Wadi which has over 30 rides as well as a couple of pools to relax by if the excitement is too much! I’ve also head great reports about Aquaventure (which can be found at Atlantis, The Palm)
10. Catch some fireworks
Dubai has a serious love affair with fireworks – so much so that in January the Beach put on a firework display at 8.30 every evening! Apparently the fireworks are in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Dubai Shopping Festival (it appears that any excuse will do really…)
Joking aside, at least the firework displays that are put on in Dubai are really impressive. The New Year fireworks this year are definitely the best I’ve seen…