Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Dubai
Tell us a little about Dubai and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel there.
Dubai is the very definition of luxury! It’s most famous for its iconic skylines, massive shopping malls and beautiful coastline. The city is currently home to the world’s tallest building, as well as the Palm Jumeirah (man made island), Burj Al Arab and other impressive feats of engineering.
I lived and worked there as a journalist for seven years, so I know the city as well as I know my liquor cabinet!
What makes Dubai a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Dubai is home to some of the world’s most spectacular and opulent hotels. You can choose from places such as the seven-star Burj Al Arab, the Armani Hotel, which is located in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the Park Hyatt, which epitomises understated glamour.
Accommodation aside, you have everything you need for a trip full of glitz and glamour – from gigantic shopping malls that house every designer label imaginable, to trendy lounge bars with stunning city views, to ridiculously extravagant spas.
What boutique hotel would you recommend to your friends that are stopping through?
Dubai doesn’t really have much of a boutique hotel scene, but one place that really stands out is XVA Art Hotel in Bastakiya, which is part of the Dubai Creek area of the city and is brimming with character. It’s a refreshing change in a city that’s all about the five-star brand name hotels to find a place like XVA – the rooms have been decorated to reflect the architectural and cultural motifs of the region.
What about 5 Star, of them all, which is the best in your town?
It’s almost impossible to choose just one, as there are so many amazing five-stars in Dubai, but if I had to pick a favourite it would be the Park Hyatt. Understated glamour at its best; with its white washed walls and blue tiles, the hotel’s exterior décor is more reminiscent of a building on a Greek island!
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
This being Dubai, you can find pretty much anything glamour related – even adventure activities. For a more traditional activity, I’d recommend doing a desert safari. For that glamorous edge, I’d suggest you look up Platinum Heritage. They organise a number of bespoke safaris, including the Heritage Night Safari, during which you drive through the desert in a vintage Land Rover, enjoy an evening of Arabic entertainment and then have the chance to try your hand at glamping! It’s all very Sex and the City 2!
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
I highly recommend Tom&Serg – a café/restaurant that’s been garnering a lot of attention of late for its incredible coffee and delicious food.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Dubai and what are their best dishes?
One of my absolute favourite restaurants in Dubai (and one that seems to have lasted the test of time in a city where new dining spots open up pretty much every week) is Teatro. It’s a lovely place to have a date in, and I highly recommend the Malaysian prawn laksa for mains.
If you’re really looking to impress someone, though, Pierchic is the place to go to. Located at the end of a pier that overlooks the Burj Al Arab, this is one of the city’s most romantic restaurants.
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
I have to confess that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (I know, I know – ridiculous!) but I do have a penchant for the chocolate brownie at Hummingbird Bakery in Dubai Mall. A slab of chocolate heaven!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
Where to begin with this one?! S*uce is a multibrand fashion concept where you’ll find contemporary brands as well as unique piece from up-and-coming designers. They also have the quirkiest gifts and home interior accessories – there’s always something new to discover!
Most people shop in the malls, as they contain pretty much every brand – high street or designer – imaginable. Dubai Mall is the biggest, so if you’re looking for the ultimate shopping day out I’d head there.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Dubai?
I used to get my hair done at Slam, which is located in the trendy and upcoming industrial area of Al Quoz (where you’ll also find the aforementioned Tom&Serg café). If you ever head there ask for Ali – she was my hairstylist for four years while I was living in Dubai and makes even my unruly hair look amazing.
As for spas, well you’re truly spoilt for choice! If budget isn’t an issue, go all out and head to the Talise Ottoman Spa at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah. They have thalassotherapy pools, snow rooms, saunas, hydrotheraphy rooms and floating baths. They also have a mind-blowing Turkish Hammam, which is something you simply must try.
The Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
There are two spots I’d recommend for sundowners in Dubai. My favourite is Neos in the Address Hotel, Downtown. The bar is located on the 63rd floor and overlooks the Burj Khalifa, and is the best place to enjoy a drink while watching the sun sink into the horizon.
The second spot is 360, which is a bar that’s located at the end of the pier and offers stunning views of both the sea and the city. This place also has outdoor seating, so is the perfect spot during the cooler months!
Now the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot?
If you’re looking for a laid-back but stylish place, head to Karma Café, which serves delicious watermelon martinis. The outdoor terrace also offers great views of the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. You can find more bar suggestions in our Dubai City Bible post!
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