The wonders of Dubai
The trip was off to a good start with an upgrade to Business Class flying on the A380, Champagne on tap and tasty canapes, not to mention the most comfortable of flat beds and undoubtedly the very best inflight entertainment.
Despite landing in the early hours we were greeted by friendly staff at the airport who led us out to our private car transfer which took us down to the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) where we stayed in the JA Ocean View Hotel for the next 4 nights. We stayed in a sea view room (it’s worth noting all rooms are sea view despite the hotel not having exclusive beach access). It has a walkway across to the public beach, located by the swimming pool and the hotel can provide you with beach bags containing beach mats, towels and a parasol. The beach is literally just across the way.
This wasn’t really a beach break for us so we didn’t take advantage of using the beach bag but it’s certainly worth it to avoid paying the £30 or so that it costs down on the beach. However, we did think of taking advantage of the complimentary shuttle to take us down to the Jebel Ali to enjoy the beautiful grounds and check the private beach out as guests can have beach access Sunday to Thursday, but we simply didn’t have time as there is so much more to see and do.
The hotel is probably located on one of the best locations on the walk and we simply used it as a base to explore the city. Whilst the hotel has 7 restaurants we only ate there for breakfast so I can only comment on Le Rivage, which offered a wonderful wide choice with something to suit all tastes. The breakfast is buffet so can you eat as little or as much as you wish.
Our first day started with a trip to the Dubai Mall which in itself is a day out! You can literally spend all day there and that’s without doing any shopping! I’m not sure how long I spent just watching the spectacular indoor waterfall, which is just amazing, but once we dragged ourselves away from there we spent far too long watching the wonderful array of beautiful aquatics down at the Aquarium. We weren’t quite brave enough to experience a shark dive though!! After a bite to eat and wondering which direction to head next we find ourselves taking a stroll along the waterfront promenade, where you’ll find the Dubai fountain and of course world famous Burj Khalifa.
Even if you’ve spent time down by the fountains during the day you must go back in the evening. It gets very busy, so I would recommend getting down early to get a good spot, but if you’re looking to eat out too, a good recommendation would be on the balcony of the Abd El Wahab which is located in the Souk Al Bahar. You’ll need to book early as it overlooks the fountains so it is extremely popular as it gives the most spectacular view. We had absolutely no idea what to order, but the staff were very helpful and happily recommended something for us to enjoy, the food is beautiful.
No trip to Dubai would be complete without heading up the Khalifa so without doubt you must book the ‘At the Top’ or ‘Sky at Burj Khalifa’ trip which enables you to experience the breath-taking views of the city from the observation decks of what is the world’s tallest building. It’s worth booking this in advance as it is such a popular tourist attraction, especially if you are wanting to go at twilight! If you don’t feel brave enough to go up in the high speed elevator you must still take the opportunity to view the Burj from the outside. The grandeur of the building will amaze you I’m sure.
That evening we had a desert safari and BBQ dinner booked, our transfer picked us up and off we went driving into the desert which surrounds the city, on the way to the desert our driver stopped at a small shop. Upon entering the shop, we were sprung upon by a few guys wanting to sell us an Arab head scarf – I declined, not realising that there was a good reason for this! So definitely buy one if you don’t want to come back looking like a windswept Bridget Jones or you’re already prepared. If you’re looking to see the sunset, there is no better way to do this than out in the open desert, it is a magical experience. After watching the sunset, it was a case of hold on tight and enjoy the safari ride through to the campsite. I was pleasantly surprised by the 4×4 safari in that it wasn’t as hair raising as I thought it was going to be!! Before entering into the campsite we had the opportunity for a short camel ride which was included in the cost and then for the next hour or so we sat back relaxing watching live belly dancing and traditional folk dance whilst indulging on the wonderful BBQ. I did wonder just how good the food was going to be eating out in the middle of the desert and have to say that my doubts were most certainly proven wrong. To dine under the stars in the Arabian desert is a must, so if you’re looking for a different dining experience with fantastic food, a great atmosphere and fabulous entertainment then this is an excursion not to be missed.
Our next venture was down to the Souk Madinat at Jumeriah, so if you fancy a spot of shopping followed a tranquil boat trip through the stunning Madinat, this is the place to be. This is where you’ll find the best photo opportunities of what is the wonder of the grand Burj Al Arab and if you’re lucky like we were, see a helicopter come in and land on top! Easily pleased!!
Our last evening was spent on a Dhow cruise sailing through the Marina for a couple of hours, another wonderful way to watch Dubai by night with the glittering lights brightening up the skyline. A buffet dinner was on offer with an again superb selection of food.
A great way to end our last evening in what was a truly fabulous stay in what has to be one of the best cities I’ve ever visited. If you think a 3 or 4 night stay in Dubai is plenty then you’ll just have to return as there is so much to see and do, it’s just not long enough. I’m beginning to wonder if you’d even fit it all in within a week, especially if you want some chill out time on the beautiful beach too.