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Top 10 luxury hotels in Dubai
Seriously, if you're going to go for boutiques, spas and decadent luxury, there's only one place to really pull out all the bells and whistles, Dubai. With over 70 different retail malls, including the world's largest, this is not a place to come to if you're not intending to splash the cash and from traditional souks to shimmering skyscrapers, no grain of sand is left unturned when it comes to your shopping pleasure. Aside from the retail therapy, Dubai is also a hot spot for contemporary architecture, sports stadiums and historical sites of interest however, bear in mind that several cultural nuances may stand in the way of your 'normal' every day vacation experience. Getting a wee bit worse for wear in public is definitely not tolerated and dressing modestly, especially women, is deemed as standard practice no matter what the time of day or night. Once you come to terms with the customs and local rules & regs you'll be free to take Dubai in your stride and if you're looking for the most indulgent, opulent and crazy-rich hotels on the planet then prepare to set your jaw to drop and your wallet to open.
10. Sofitel Dubai The Palm
The setting: An envious location on the world-famous Palm Jumeirah Island, Dubai.
The scene: Totally tropical with a Polynesian theme running through its core, the Sofitel promises panoramic sunset views as well as gorgeous gardens and full range of facilities.
The stay: Choose between almost 500 guest rooms and suites each of which has a spectacular arrangement of luxurious comforts including en-suite bathrooms, king-size beds and rainforest showers. Away from the in-room delights there's a long list of outdoor activities, including: yoga, pilates, beach volleyball and watersports to keep even the Beckhams sun-kissed and satisfied.
The best bits: The spa has got an incredible 28 treatment rooms so if you're looking to indulge your senses and look your best for the malls then right here is where you find a perfect pocket of pampering paradise.
More information and to book: Sofitel Dubai The Palm
9. Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa
The setting: Excellent Jumeirah beachfront location, close to the new marina, Palm Island and several golf courses.
The scene: If you fancy a romantic break for 2 with dips in infinity pools and moments of calm as the sun sinks into the ocean then check out the Habtoor Grand Resort and you definitely won't be disappointed. Loads of fabulous facilities, including: poolside Jacuzzi, squash courts and flood-lit tennis courts mean that you get to experience Dubai at a pace that suits you which can't be bad no matter what you're planning on getting up to.
The stay: Almost 20 restaurants and bars on-site give you some indication just how seriously these guys take their downtime with Lebanese, Thai, French and even an English-style pub providing plenty of options to kick back, relax and indulge. If you can tear yourself away from the food then the accommodation isn't bad either with almost 500 different rooms and suites supplying the utmost in modern amenities and luxury fixtures and fittings.
The best bits: So many different dining options make this one of the hottest properties in town and definitely worth a second glance if you've been to Dubai before.
More information and to book: Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa
8. Le Royal Meridien
The setting: Landscaped garden setting, under half an hour from Dubai airport and about 20mins from the city center.
The scene: Golf courses nearby, 4 flood-lit tennis courts in-resort and a dedicated watersports center make Le Royal Meridien an awesome option for keeping fit and active in Dubai. Also, once you've worked up an appetite, you'll find no less than 14 different restaurants to choose from with steak, pizza and regional classics providing plenty of great grub from around the world.
The stay: Just a whole lot of things to do without having to go too far with daily shuttle buses transporting you to shopping heaven in the center of the city. Over 500 rooms and suites designed with comfort and contemporary living in mind, including: satellite TV, internet access and 24hr room service.
The best bits: Aside from the splendid arrangement of dining options, the 5 different bars and lounge areas are pretty hard to resist after a hard day's retail therapy.
More information and to book: Le Royal Meridien
7. Fairmont The Palm
The setting: Located on the Palm against a backdrop of the Arabian Gulf and glittering Dubai marina.
The scene: With swimming pools overlooking the ocean and a wide choice of watersports to be enjoyed from the private beach, Fairmont The Palm is a quintessential 5-star property and no to be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination. Loads of facilities for the kids as well as numerous restaurants and bars mean that this is every bit a family-friendly option however, just tell dad to leave the 'kiss me quick' sombrero at home.
The stay: 4 pools, a health club and fully-equipped fitness center are all on hand to help you work up and appetite or prepare you limbs for a day's shopping with plenty of sunset stroll moments if you fancy an evening of romance under the stars. Rooms and suites are exceptional with marble bathrooms, walk in showers and deep soak baths presenting more than one reason to fall in love with Fairmont.
The best bits: Frevo has to be up there as a USP for Fairmont as not only is it the only Brazilian bar & restaurant in town, it's also got some awesome evening entertainment too so set your hips to samba and prepare to shake 'em!
More information and to book: Fairmont The Palm
6. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
The setting: Another exclusive Palm setting, this time on the western crescent, with awesome views of the surrounding ocean.
The scene: Designed to reflect the past as well as the future, you'll discover a wonderful world of Ottoman-style architecture as well as an super selection of facilities all neatly captured within a manicured garden juxtaposed against shimmering white sands.
The stay: With complimentary tickets to the Wild Wadi Waterpark included there's plenty to get excited about besides the fabulous Palm frond location and from its own boutique shopping arcade to a cinema, gym and lagoon-style swimming pool, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray typifies the exclusive luxury of a vacation in Dubai. Just over 400 rooms, suites and villas offer incredible ocean views as well as a full quota of modern and luxurious fixtures and fittings, including: iPod docking stations, 24hr in-room dining and high-speed internet access.
The best bits: A fabulous choice of restaurants will leave your taste buds completely sated and there's no better way to work up an appetite other than a day out at the nearby water park.
More information and to book: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
5. Anantara The Palm
The setting: Sandwiched on the easterly crescent of the Palm in between the Arabian Gulf and Dubai's shimmering skyscrapers.
The scene: Great location for families with older kids thanks to the range of watersports and dedicated teen club room, which features: pool table, video games and air hockey. Kids aside and you'll find no end of pools, restaurants and sports facilities making for a relaxed and recreational experience for those visiting Dubai for the first time. Great views of the ocean and the cityscape as well as Thai-style architecture help to create a chilled out atmos with plenty of opportunities to get out and about as your mood dictates.
The stay: Accommodation comes in the form of lovely red roof villas which are separated by a criss-cross of peaceful water features.
The best bits: Got to be a day spent at the Anantara Spa which is all about the 10 top treatments and wonderfully calming atmosphere.
More information and to book: Anantara The Palm
4. Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
The setting: A picture perfect location on the eastern curve of the Palm Jumeirah and about half an hour from the airport.
The scene: Pretty much as close to a tropical oasis as you can expect in the UAE, the Waldorf Astoria is all about the sand, sea and sublime sunshine with an elegant interior to make even the most VIP feel at home.
The stay: No matter whether you're checking out the restaurants, the bars or the wide range of sports and watersports there's always an extra elegant touch to remind you that this is no ordinary hotel break. The rooms and suites, especially, demand attention and from incredible sea views from the balconies to a couple of super comfy queen-size beds, there's no better place to start or end your day in Dubai.
The best bits: Dinner at Social has to be up there with the best of them as thanks to the designs of 3-star Michelin Chef Heinz Beck you'll discover fine, yet casual, dining on an epic scale.
More information and to book: Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
3. The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai Jumeirah Beach
The setting: Ideally placed adjacent to the new marina overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
The scene: Lush green landscaped gardens, lagoon-style pools and a perfect portion of white sand beach, what else do you need?
The stay: A huge range of guest rooms and suites make Dubai's Ritz-Carlton a great choice for the more discerning traveler with four-poster beds, balconies or patios and 24hr in-room dining providing plenty to write home about. The hotel's fitness center has 4 flood-lit tennis courts, a couple of squash courts and fully-equipped gym which will all go some way to keeping you happy and healthy no matter what else you get up to in the UAE.
The best bits: The golf putting green is a great place to get in some practise prior to joining the big boys next door at either the Emirates or Montgomerie golf clubs.
More information and to book: The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai Jumeirah Beach
2. Madinat Jumeirah
The setting: Under half an hour from Dubai's international airport, next to Burj Al Arab and Wild Wadi Waterpark and around 10 mins from the nearest mall.
The scene: This is actually 3 hotel complexes set within manicured gardens and boasting over 2kms of private beach.
The stay: Extensive hotel facilities provide everything that your heart could desire including: indoor/outdoor pools, over 40 different restaurants (yes, 40) and a vast spa featuring no less than 26 individual treatment rooms. All guest rooms and suites have either balcony or terrace area and come complete with spacious bathroom with separate bath and shower as well as high-end fixtures and fittings as well as free WiFi access to make the folks back home green with envy.
The best bits: The spa is so vast that you could lose yourself for at least a couple of days however, if you find your way out then you've got to check out the 1000 seater amphitheater that hosts live performances and evening entertainment.
More information and to book: Madinat Jumeirah
1. One&Only Royal Mirage
The setting: Overlooking Palm Island and around 20 mins from the international airport and Dubai central.
The scene: Another triple hotel complex of awesomeness with a 1km private beach and plenty of lush green tropical fronds to put you in mind of an Arabian oasis.
The stay: Choose from a superb range of rooms, suites and villas all of which promise a bewildering array of amenities as well as some superb balcony or terrace views of the ocean. This is an elegant and intimate residence with traditional-style architecture helping to create a charming and magical base from where to explore the rest of Dubai. Loads of watersports, spa services and temperature-controlled swimming pools help you get to grips with life in the UAE.
The best bits: There are over 8 magnificent restaurants spread throughout the 3 hotel areas, each of which present a gastronomic journey like nothing you've ever experienced before.
More information and to book: One&Only Royal Mirage, Residence and Spa