You’ve probably seen the palatial Atlantis, The Palm on shows like The X Factor. And it’s just as impressive on the inside. One of the best family-friendly perks has to be the unlimited access to The Lost Chambers Aquarium and Aquaventure Waterpark. This place is home to 65,000 marine animals, as well as a shedload of slides – like the nine-storey-high Leap of Faith, which ends in a tunnel through a shark-filled tank. There’s plenty for pint-sized water babies, too, in the form of river rides, play areas and a beach. As far as kids’ clubs go, Atlantis, The Palm should be held up as a shining example. One clearly wasn’t enough for this place. Instead, it’s got two – one for youngsters and one for teens, which includes a mocktail-serving bar. In true UAE fashion, they’re stocked with the latest tech, like Apple iMacs and games consoles, as well as more traditional soft play areas. If you fancy a dinner for two, you can book your little ones into an evening event for a little extra. They cover themes like Willy Wonka, pirates and science, and usually include a pizza dinner, too. Or, for a quieter time, there’s even an underwater cinema.
Hotels in Dubai don’t do things by halves, and the Hyatt Regency Dubai's no exception. While most luxury hotels pack in pools, restaurants and bars, this place adds an ice rink to the must-have list. You’ll find it in the attached mall, which also throws an ice-cream shop, grocery store and karaoke bar into the ring. There’s plenty for grown-ups to keep themselves busy with, too. This place lays claim to Dubai’s only revolving restaurant, Al Dawaar. Here, you can gorge on dim sum, ribs and sushi with Dubai’s glittering skyline in sight. The views are just as good from The Bar, which comes with widescreen panoramas of Dubai Creek.
Dubai’s known for its bigger is better philosophy. And the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel took this literally. Stay here and you’ll be checking into the second tallest hotel on the planet – it was only recently knocked off the top spot by a mere 2.8 metres. You can really get a feel for the hotel’s ear-popping height at the rooftop pool, which hovers among the skyscrapers overlooking the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. When you want to see this record-breaker a little closer up, you can hop on a free shuttle to Dubai Mall, where you’ve also got top-notch shops and Dubai Fountain. The hotel’s 72nd-floor watering hole moves in the ‘highest bars in the world’ circle, as well. In keeping with the property’s plush nature, it features money-themed cocktails, like the Gambling Man and Bank Robber. The rooms and suites have grown-up retreats written all over them, too. They star luxe touches like walk-in wardrobes, marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows for clocking eyes on the Arabian Gulf.
The Nassima Royal Hotel's handy for visiting all of Dubai’s top spots. It’s popped up in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Dubai’s swanky financial district, a five-minute walk from a metro station. The hotel’s a destination in its own right, though. Night owls flock here to dance the night away at the 6,000-square-foot nightclub, Movida. And it’s got one of Dubai’s most experimental restaurants up its sleeve. Tresind specialises in molecular Indian cuisine – picture pancakes on small-scale washing lines, green chutney, candy floss-decorated mini-vans. You’ve really got to see it to believe it. The cocktails are just as out-there, as well. TripAdvisor reviewers recommend the passion fruit-flavoured Lava Lamp – the clue’s in the name. When you want to relax, there’s also a pool on the seventh floor, plus a bar that stays open ‘til 1am. After dark, the cube tables light up in all sorts of colours, giving the place a party vibe.
The food follows closely behind the views as one of the most talked-about highlights of the Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence. You’ll find it in Jumeirah Beach Residence, right by Dubai Marina, which provides a top-up of bars and restaurants to work your way around. That said, the eateries at base are some of the best around. Meat lovers should make a beeline for Fogueira, which plates up all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecues with over 20 different cuts of meat. For something authentic, there’s Sama Lounge on the 35th floor, which deals in Arabic delicacies like stuffed vine leaves, lamb kabsa and tabbouleh. You can dine out on an al fresco terrace and finish your meal in true Arabic style, with some sweet-tasting shisha.
Turkish, British, Lebanese, Asian – these are just some of the cuisines you can try at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray In fact, if you’re only here a week, you’d struggle to eat at every single one of its nine restaurants. The Rib Room is the main headline grabber. This place caters to carnivores with its Brit-inspired menu of Loch Fyne smoked salmon, Irish beef tenderloin and Guinness-braised short ribs. If you’re after a challenge, order the 1,200-gram tomahawk. Even the buffet restaurant is extravagant at this place. You can tuck into all kinds of dishes under crystal chandeliers at Imperium. It’s also where huge Vegas-style brunches are hosted. If you want a dinner with a difference, book a table at The Music Hall. Here, meals are accompanied by rock, jazz and Middle Eastern musical performances on stage.
Locations don’t get much better than the one at Hilton Dubai The Walk. As the name suggests, it’s right in the heart of The Walk – a restaurant and shop-packed prom. But sunbathers are in luck, too, since the hotel boasts its own private patch of sand on Jumeirah Beach, which you can access via a little bridge. There’s a grill down on the sands, so you can stay glued to your lounger all day. It’s got an eclectic menu, featuring everything from fajitas to falafel pitas. But the Canadian lobster’s a particularly popular choice. If you don’t fancy the sea, you’ve got a choice of swimming pools to pick from. There’s one at base, plus another lagoon-shaped number at the nearby sister hotel, Hilton Jumeirah Resort.
The Sofitel The Palm sits on the outer curve of Dubai’s famous Palm Jumeirah archipelago. The beach hotel’s nabbed a spot of sand all to itself, which means lots of rooms boast sea views. Plus, the whole place has a Polynesian theme, with exotic plants, vertical gardens and thatched roofs. Even the palm-fringed pool looks like a tropical lagoon, with a sandy, beach-style entry to the water. Whether you’re pool or beachside, there’s waiter service to your sunbed. This means you can order snacks and cocktails at the push of a button. If you fancy some time away from your sunbed, there’s a beach bar serving pizzas, freshly squeezed juices and cocktails. In the evening, mezze platters and barbecues are on the menu. Or you can retreat back to the sands for a romantic picnic – the staff will lay out lanterns and cushions for the occasion.
Atlantis, The Palm offers other-worldly luxury, combining top drawer skyline views with a never-ending list of facilities, including free access to an underwater aquarium and a waterpark.
The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai fits the city's super-modern theme to a T, and it holds the record for the world's second tallest hotel.
Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort brings a first-class spa and round-the-world dining options to the exclusive Palm Jumeirah crescent.
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