Dubai only went and built its own desert islands. Opened in 2009, The Palm Jumeriah made Dubai a holiday hotspot, adding miles and miles of beach with its stylised palm tree configuration. Now, its many ‘fronds’ are a surreal sight, but when you get to laze on their white sands, you’ll wonder why no one else thought of making their own islands.
Stay at Waldorf Astoria the Palm, where all the rooms have beautiful views of the skyline or The Palm itself. Take your afternoon tea in the light-flooded café, Peacock Alley.
Stick to the hotels for high-end dining. Nobu is a no-brainer: set on Atlantis The Palm, it doesn’t disappoint, serving sleek Asian fusion without the clichés. Try the fresh fish – in tacos, as tartar, or as light, crunchy tempura.
Make a splash at Aquaventure Waterpark. As water parks go, this one is pretty special. Set on the outermost frond of The Palm, it’s home to some of the world’s biggest waterslides, their sole purpose? To send you careering to the bottom as fast as possible.
Hipsters might want to look up D3, Dubai’s new up-and-coming design district, and Boxpark Dubai
North from The Palm, and coating the coast of the city, Dubai’s ‘golden mile’ is actually powder-white. This series of beaches has views of the billowing sail-shaped Burj al Arab. Many are hotel-owned, but JBR open beach and the Kite Beach are free to visit.
Styled like an Arabian palace, with pointed arches and ornate latticework, One & Only Royal Mirage – Arabian Court has sea-facing views and a kilometre of private beach.
For Emirati snacks, keep your eyes peeled for small cafes that might serve you a childhood favourite: the Chips Oman sandwich. This pimped-out version of a crisp sandwich has paratha (flatbread) with melted cheese, hot sauce and crisps. Just trust us and try it.
Jumeriah Beach Park has the Mercato Mall, plus the nearby Wild Wadi Waterpark is a great day out with the family. The public beaches are free and make for an ideal sunset stroll – with the obligatory shot of the Burj al Arab in the background.
Jumeriah Beach Residence (nicknamed JBR) claims to be the biggest residential complex in the world, sitting outside one of the world’s biggest marinas. Whilst the super yachts moored up are impressive, the rest of the area is very visitor-friendly. Stroll along The Walk and enjoy the scene. There’s everything you need here, including two storey’s worth of shops all along the seafront. The new Dubai Eye, the world’s largest Ferris wheel, is currently cartwheeling into existence on nearby Bluewater Island.
Hilton Dubai The Walk is the perfect place for travellers who want a lively area on their doorstep, but the comfort of a Hilton to come home to afterwards. The hotel has a lovely sky lounge and you can make use of the pool and restaurants at the adjacent Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort.
There are plenty of pitstops for tourists in this area. But to take things up a notch, sit out overlooking the marina at Indego by Vineet. One of the highest-ranked restaurants in Dubai, it serves elegant Indian dishes. Try the popular butter chicken.
Stroll, socialise and check out Dubai’s own version of Covent Garden Market on The Walk.