Dubai has never had much appeal to me as a holiday destination but when a good friend moved there in 2014 and I began to sample a bit of her lifestyle on social media, my opinion changed pretty quickly; it looked like a lot of fun.
Looking for an excuse for a Spring getaway, I booked a weekend away with my good friends from school to visit Dubai for 3 nights in early March.
With flights to Dubai costing little over £300 and saving on accommodation by sleeping on my mate’s sofa, we decided to spend our well-earned cash on sun, sea and a lot of alcohol and making the most of some quality time together. We’ve known each other for 20 years so when friends move abroad we need to cram in plenty of time to catch up!
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do in Dubai. As I’ve been fortunate to head there couple of times now (once for work, once for pleasure), there are a few things that should definitely take a spot on your itinerary if you choose to visit for a long weekend: brunch, boats and checking out the city’s unbelievable buildings.
After an overnight flight from London, we dumped our stuff and spent Thursday relaxing in the sun on the beach at Atlantis, the Palm. Taking a dip in the crystal clear water was the perfect remedy to get rid of the grotty lack-of-sleep feeling from the 7-hour flight and we had the sun on our backs within minutes. Paying a small fee for entry, lunch and cocktails in front of such an amazing work of architecture on the world’s biggest man-made island is worth it for the view from your sun lounger alone.
Our Friday was occupied by a fantastic brunch at Al Qasr, an exquisite 5-star hotel in the Madinat Jumeira. Friday brunch is a popular past time of Dubai residents and the city has many options, but we decided to go for a brunch venue with a true luxury feel for a special treat and an excuse to dress up.
The food options were incredible, cuisines from every corner of the world were on offer as were drinks to match. My favourite had to be a boat wedged in on of the hotel waterways serving an endless supply of freshly-cut coconuts overflowing with Malibu. It’s fair to say I went heavy on the drink options as opposed to food, but I couldn’t fault the food choices when I did fancy eating as it had everything! The sushi and barbecue stands would definitely take a spot high up on my list both fresh and amazingly flavoursome.
If you’re looking for a really special Dubai brunch experience then Al Qasr is the one. If you’re keen on a more vibrant party atmosphere, I’ve been well informed that brunch at Saffron at Atlantis and Bubbalicious at the Westin are also hard to beat.
Dubai’s high temperatures were a bit of a shock to our pale, end-of-winter British skin, so we were keen to make sure our Saturday was filled with sun soaking and plenty of opportunities to swim, so we went out on a private yacht for the day. A bit extravagant, I know, but the Dubai Yacht Show was on during our visit and a friend was offered an opportunity to take our group out on the water for the afternoon so we were very fortunate.
We spent the afternoon on the beautiful Jasmine of the Sea, looked after onboard by crew members Jon and Alicia. Seeing Dubai’s iconic landmarks by boat is definitely the best way to do it, and spending an hour or two moored-up in front of clusters of skyscrapers to paddle board, swim and sun soak was a perfect bonus. Speeding past the Burj Al Arab (the sail-shaped hotel) at high-speed did make me feel like an extra in a James Bond movie for 5 minutes!
Floating back down from cloud nine and after saying goodbye to the Jasmine of the Sea, we headed to the Dubai Mall area to spend an evening dining in front of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai Mall is the largest shopping centre in the world and consists of 1200 shops, a car park which can hold 14,000 cars(!) and the world’s biggest indoor aquarium. Random. You’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat.
Eating is something you’ll definitely do a lot of when in Dubai – the list of restaurant and cuisine options are endless and most have speciality nights on certain days – cheese and wine night was definitely a personal favourite.