Dubai is a huge place. Everything about it – from its grand hotels to its exciting water parks to its huge, indeed the hugest; building in the world – the Burj Khalifa – is all about grandeur, luxury, perfection. It's also new. With much of the city built in the last 20 years, with more hotels and malls being constructed every year, the whole place seems bright and clean, polished and ready for visitors. To see the UAE for the very first time, I took a trip to the city to try out the beautiful new hotel, Dukes Dubai, and discovered the many ways that this hotel is unique in a crowd of choice.
Where to stay
As a sister to the charming Dukes hotel in London, Dukes Dubai is a reminder of home while in the middle of a strange world. The foyer is dazzling, with an unforgettable chandelier dominating the lobby adorned with stunning bouquets of flowers. The attentive, yet never overbearing staff are always on hand to welcome you with a cool towel from the hot weather, and to help with your every need whether it is arranging a wakeup call, reactivating a room key or booking a table at one of the hotel's several restaurants.
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The hotel rooms are styled by Liberty Fabrics
For a 500-bedroom hotel, half of which are apartment rooms and half bedrooms, Dukes never once felt too big. The hotel is full of intimate trappings, including a brightly furnished afternoon tea room, which is full of comfy love seats perfect to enjoy the finger sandwiches, delicate desserts and, of course, a tasty scone or two. Upon entering my room for the first time, it felt like stepping into a London hotel with the place styled by Liberty Fabrics - but with one small difference. Pulling back the heavy curtains, it is surprising to remember that you are in Dubai with a gorgeous view of that famous skyline stretched in front of you.
The hotel's outdoor facilities are also simply second-to-none. The view from the infinity pool, which overlooks the hotel's private beach (indeed, it is the only hotel in Dubai to actually own their own beach) is nothing short of spectacular, and simply has to be one of the most amazing viewpoints of the city.
The views from Dukes Dubai's infinity pool were spectacular
Where to explore
If relaxing in the sizzling Dubai heat becomes too much, the city is a wonderful place to explore. During my time there, I took a trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa, a somewhat terrifying feat and watched the world famous water fountain show outside one of the Mall of the Emirates, which is a worth an entire day trip all in itself. Not only does it have every shop you could imagine, the Mall also includes an aquarium (complete with diving) and an indoor skiing centre.
With the help of the Visit Dubai, I also took an unforgettable trip into the vast desert surrounding the city. Taking a safari into the desert was an unforgettable experience, and certainly not for the faint-hearted! Our car sped up sand dunes and took stomach-dropping dives into the sand, which was both an exhilarating and hilarious experience.
We took a trip to the desert
The highlight of the adventure had to be dining at a camp in the middle of a desert. Complete with a delicious gourmet dinner as well as belly dancer shows, camel rides and sand boarding down the dunes, it was a magical experience that I won't forget in a hurry.
If you are looking for shopping opportunities (and have exhausted the Mall), take a trip across the old creek to the markets, where they sell gold, silver and jewels at incredibly cheap prices.
Where to eat
Dukes Dubai has several amazing restaurants, including steakhouse West 14th, which incidentally hosts an incredible Brunch (one of Dubai's favourite pasttimes), and GBR, the British restaurant in which fish and chips among other classic British dishes are included on the menu.
The menu at GBR is full of British classics
However, the jewel in the hotel's crown is the incredible Khyber, an Indian restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. I was treated to an exquisite meal at the restaurant, consisting of tandoor chicken, kebabs marinated with yoghurt and saffron and deliciacy Nalli Nihari, before taking in the incredible views from the restaurant.
Double rooms at Dukes Dubai from £184*/AED 875 in low season; and from £310*/AED1,478 in high season. Breakfast included. *Prices in GBP according to today’s exchange rate.