Take your kids to Dubai


Eloise Barker

Title photography ©2007 - 2018 Atlantis, The Palm

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February 2018

Dubai is a kid-friendly city. There are Water Parks that blow the competition out of the water, the world’s largest indoor theme park, safe, shallow beaches, kids’ clubs and shaded play areas. Check out our list of the best family hotels in Dubai. Your children will be treated like little princes and princesses – just make sure it doesn’t go to their heads.

For the ultimate family holiday: Atlantis The Palm

The lowdown: Watching your kids’ jaws drop is a hilarious spectator sport. And it’s one that you can do over and over again at Atlantis The Palm. From the spectacular glass sculpture in the lobby to the impressive arched hotel design and the extensive restaurants, this hotel is out to impress guests of every age and it’s one of the best in Dubai. For kids, there are loads of clubs – including Club Rush for teenagers, a hangout with video games and mocktails. The Lost Kingdom Aquarium is a treat for everyone (who doesn’t feel soothed by a stint in front of fishes?)

Let them let off steam: Get your children jumping into a pool to hand-feed cownose rays at the Aquaventure Water Park, or just stick to the skyscraper-sized waterslides. This park is one of the best things to do in Dubai with kids.

Restore energy levels: Dine at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. Adults: enjoy the finest from the Brit’s kitchen, whilst kids will go (chopped) nuts for the station where you decorate your own sundae.

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  • Kids Club in The Lost Chambers Aquarium at the Atlantis, The Palm. Photo credit: Nicolas Dumont. ©2007 - 2018 Atlantis, The Palm.

    Square eyes

    In Atlantis The Palm's underwater theatre, kids can watch passing marine life, or watch a film with the kids' club.£724 pp

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For big families: JA Palm Tree Court

The lowdown: If you’ve got a big tribe, you’ll need space, and this is where an All-Suite property can be all-important. Enter JA Palm Tree Court, where there’s plenty of room for your whole family – and you can also book adjoining rooms if you’ve got a bigger brood and different generations travelling together. There’s PlayStation and DVD players in the rooms and free film rental. Outside of your spacious suite, there’s a lovely 800 m slab of private beach, plus roaming peacocks. A 40-minute shuttle bus takes you into town – or to Dubai Parks and Resorts. On resort there’s kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. And if they go horse riding, kids might even be able to take their steed swimming in the sea. If you go out to eat as a family, look out for extra-local ingredients: The hotel’s BIO garden provides healthy vegetables to the restaurants. You can also book an All Inclusive holiday at this hotel.

Let them let off steam: Build up their excitement before taking them to LEGOLAND at Dubai Parks and Resorts.

Restore energy levels: In the temperature-controlled pools. The property has very, very attentive life guards.

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For style-seekers: Jumeirah Al Naseem

The lowdown: Jumeirah Al Naseem ticks all the boxes for stylish families – especially those who are also up for free access to Wild Wadi Waterpark. Modern and chic, the newest Jumeriah resort in the esteemed Madinat complex has plenty of on-site restaurants and three big pools. The low-rise buildings are set out over a series of gently curving canals – and there are even abra rides from the Madinat complex souk through this ‘creek’. It’s all very tasteful – which doesn’t mean boring – look out for a lovely turtle pool. The hotel has plenty of interconnecting rooms that are ideal for families, or you could book a family suite for more space. Every room is spacious, neutral and calm – you’ll love the big bathroom. Book a babysitter whilst you go to Rockfish, the standout seafood restaurant.

Let them let off steam: There’s unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Water Park and certainly enough rides to warrant return visits. At the hotel, book them in to Sinbad’s Kids Club – which does a great ice cream making class – and enjoy the kids’ pool, which is a riot of water jets and fountains. All-in-all the hotel has 1000 square metres’ of space devoted to children.

Restore energy levels: With simple pleasures, like a cone from the poolside ice cream stand, or a milkshake the size of your head at Black Tap. Then watch your kids marvel at the turtle rehabilitation project – a seawater pool where you might be able to spot the little guys popping to the surface – admittedly easier during feeding time.

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  • Pool views at the Jumeirah Al Naseem. ©Jumeirah International LLC.

    Splashing around

    Sinbad's Kids Club will take your children on aqua adventures.£710 pp

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  • Water sports at the JA Palm Tree Court. ©JA HOTELS & RESORTS 2018.

    Take to the water

    And don't worry if you fall in: the sea is always warm on Dubai's lovely coast.£457 pp

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  • Children's Club at the Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa Hotel. ©AccorHotels 2016.

    Play time

    Kids will have a whole lot of fun in the kids' club at Sofitel Dubai The Palm.£494 pp

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For endless activities: Le Royal Meridien Dubai

The lowdown: There’s one word for this hotel: massive. There are extensive facilities at Le Royal Meridien Dubai, the only downside being that you’ll set a little bit outside town so the sights are a taxi ride away. On site, then, you’ll find everyone keen to run off and try something different – from the kids' club activities to the catamaran hire. Once everyone is otherwise engaged, you can sneak off to the column-clad spa. There’s a free kids' club: Penguin Club will take your son and daughter donuting, or set up bonfires in the evenings for marshmallow toasting.

Let them let of steam: Kids will love the splash pool, the banana boat, and the new minigolf course.

Restore energy levels: British restaurant Geales does a colourful family brunch out on the lawns on Saturdays. The bouncy castle and bunting make it unique among the usual fussy Dubai buffets options. Plus, every single restaurant has a kids’ menu.

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  • Kidz Club at the The Grand Hyatt Dubai. ©2018 Hyatt Corporation.

    Family fun

    Book a family room at the Grand Hyatt Dubai.£422 pp

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For great value: Doubletree by Hilton Marjan Island

The lowdown: Ras al Khaimah is an hour north of Dubai, in another emirate, but it’s a bit of an open secret that the resorts here are generally better value – with plenty of space and the same great beaches. Marjan Island is on a manmade isle, but you won’t feel marooned as there’s plenty to do. There are seven (count them) pools and families are very welcome. Kids will go wild for the Tarzan boat out to sea, the pirate boat playground and the indoor climbing wall in the indoor kids’ club, which also screens films for little ones.

Let them let off steam: In the desert. Just a little way outside Ras al Khaimah is still very much nature’s playground, rather than Dubai’s millionaire’s playground. The Hilton can organise desert camping trips for the adventurous.

Restore energy levels: Go to Nini Gelato and Café, a hidden gem that’s easily missed as it’s tucked away back from the seafront.

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For beach fun: Sofitel Dubai the Palm

The lowdown: For a holiday that’s all about the sun, stay on The Palm at Sofitel Dubai The Palm. On the outer rim of the island, not too far from Aquaventure waterpark and next door to Atlantis The Palm, this hotel pops with colour, thanks to a Polynesian theme, and the rooms are bright and spacious. It’s great for kids, with seven pools that everyone can enjoy. There’s cute indoor kids club for ages four and up in a nice bright room, plus there's also a video game space. One of the pools can be entered in dramatic fashion via a long waterslide and out to sea the hotel has recently added a witbit – a massive inflatable obstacle course. Adults can enjoy the sprawling gym and spa, or afternoon tea piled onto a three-tier stand at Oliver’s.

Let them let off steam: On the exhaustingly enormous obstacle course stretching parallel to the beach out to sea.

Restore energy levels: In a beachside cabana.

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For a family classic: Jumeriah Beach Hotel

The lowdown: Outside of looking utterly fantastic (a fabulous wave shape rising to meet the sail-shaped Burj al Arab opposite) Jumeriah Beach Hotel sits on top of the Wild Wadi Waterpark. Every room here has a sea view and the programme is activity-packed – and there are over 20 restaurants. Sinbad’s Kids Club takes children from 2 to 12. There are six pools and a kilometre of beach. Talise fitness will have adults hauling tyres and running along the sand. Then again you can just board one of the floating sunloungers at the beach. There’s a resident sand artist – and he’ll even give kids lessons on wielding a garden rake with great artistic effect. He competes with the cute towel art in the bedrooms.

Let them let off steam: There are thirty rides to get through at the waterpark. Go to Wild Wadi to tame any over-energised children.

Restore energy levels: Decorating ice creams on the beach. Plus, look out for foamy freakshakes on the menu and free ice lollies by the pool.

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For being near the sights: Grand Hyatt

The lowdown: A luxurious five star. The Grand Hyatt is so big that families will be spoilt for choice. In its massive grounds, filled with plenty of lush planting, you’ll forget you’re just a camel ride away from the desert. Wander through the leafy borders and you’ll come across tennis courts, ping pong tables and badminton. There’s even a leafy indoor garden – and in the middle of it you'll find a buffet restaurant. You're not far from Dubai Creek and Dubai Mall for fun family day trips.

Let them let off steam: The kids’ pool comes with a dripping, spraying jungle gym with wacky water games and a slide. Kids are also allowed accompanied in the indoor pool in the afternoons. There’s a shaded toddler’s pool.

Restore energy levels: The Kidz Club has simple but fun activities, including feeding the hotel ducks – but also wildly imaginative activities like mermaid swimming lessons – complete with sparkly outfits.

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