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Hi! I am Kimberly Atkins.
I have just returned from an amazing trip to Dubai - a city that is a giant exhibition of “the biggest and the best.”
It’s nothing if it isn’t on a quest for “excellence and success”. From world renowned shopping, to man made islands, to the tallest building in the world, this city literally has it all!
As I write this, even more “Instagram” worthy sites are being constructed.
That’s part of the beauty and excitement of Dubai: no matter how many times you go, there will always be something new to see.
You can book the same deal as me by clicking on the at the bottom of the page!
When traveling in a city like Dubai, with a seemingly insurmountable number of attractions and activities, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide what to visit and what to skip.
I have a few key pieces of advice on how to decide what to do when you want to do it all!
1 - Grab a map
Highlight or flag all main places of interest.
2 - Scroll through Instagram for “photospiration”
Pick a few sights that catch your eye the most in that city.
3 - Read a few travel blogs.
You’ll undoubtedly learn some great tips on a city, and narrow down (or increase) your must see list even more.
4 - Talk to your concierge!
I always have a general idea of where I want to go and what I want to see, photograph, and of course, eat, in any given city, but I also always keep an open mind. I’m open to suggestions of locals, taxi drivers, and definitely my hotel’s concierge!
5 - And my most IMPORTANT piece of advice? Choose the right hotel!!!
To me, choosing the right hotel, especially in a city like Dubai, can make or break a trip. I look for hotels in the middle of all the action, a short cab and/or metro ride from most things I want to see, and great food and night life within walking distance. Add that to a desire to be in a clean, comfortable, beautiful environment, and that is why I chose the Fairmont Dubai.
Located in the heart of the most fabulous city in the desert, is the sparkling oasis that is the Fairmont Dubai.
This renowned Dubai location is an architectural landmark in the ever evolving Dubai skyline equipped with rooftop infinity pools with sweeping city and sea views, a 40,000 sq foot spa, and innovative dining and entertainment on property.
At the Fairmont, you will be within 10 miles from almost every main attraction in the city, and just a quick 10 min drive from Dubai international airport.
One thing I adore about the Fairmont chain is consistency. Whether I’m in Vancouver, Santa Monica, or Dubai, I know I will have gorgeous room, a great nights sleep, and all my connectivity and charging needs covered.
I’ve never been to a Fairmont hotel anywhere in the world that I didn’t love, and the Fairmont Dubai is no different.
Anything you need can be offered by the exceptional customer service on the other end of the telephone.
All 394 guest rooms and suites have recently been refurbished, have granite floors, a sitting area, and views of the impressive city of Dubai.
Even though we missed a couple locations we wanted to check out (and a few Instagram pics I was dying to take), we loved the experience we had, and know we can always come back.
The Dubai Frame
The Dubai Frame. What Instagram dreams are made of, and the biggest picture frame on the planet. Since the time of the ancient Greeks artists architects were often inspired by the golden ratio, a special proportional number that can be found in nature.
The golden rectangle, derived from this number, is considered the most aesthetically pleasing of all proportions.
The Dubai Frame is a golden rectangle. Showcasing the past and the future of Dubai, this giant frame and mini museum offers stunning 360 degree views from 150 meters up. Its positioned in a way that you can see the older Dubai on one side, and the modern Dubai skyline on the other.
Walk over the opaque glass floor that turns clear as you step on it. Insiders tip, there is a great little coffee bar on the top! Its also a bit controversial, known as being the “biggest stolen building of all time” with issues of the architects design copyright and royalties. Whats a good monument without a bit of drama?
The Dubai Mall
The worlds largest shopping complex!
Complete with an Olympic size ice skating rink and a giant aquarium. You can find high end designer stores for everyone in the family (not every mall has Dolce and Gabbana kids and Armani Junior!)
This mall really does have it all!
We shopped for desert safari outfits in the old souk area, and even got a lesson on how to tie a traditional keffiyeh. I dressed up like a Bedouin Princess and fell in love with the detailed beadwork on all the garments. There is nothing in the world like this place. When you’re done, head out the back doors to downtown Dubai.
La Mer - It’s like a little piece of Southern California in Dubai.
Where the city meets the sea. Everything in Dubai reminds me of something else, somewhere else in the world. They just recreate it bigger and shiner in this opulent city. This beachfront complex of restaurants and shopping reminds me so much of Universal Studious Citywalk and my home, Hermosa Beach.
The white sand, turquoise water, and golden sun are so welcoming. And the Persian Gulf is sparkly and refreshing in the hot desert sun. Come for the beach, stay for lunch. There is also a fun waterpark attached to this complex for kids. And it is a beautiful and lively spot to come for dinner, drinks or shisha by the beach in the evening.
In Downtown Dubai you will find more shopping, dining, the gorgeous Dubai fountain, and the towering skyscraper the Burj Kahlifa. Be sure to catch the nightly water and lights show at the Dubai Fountain. Then stay for the LED light show on the Burj Kahlifa.
The tallest structure in the world! Are you seeing a theme here? Not including the antenna on the top, the building and it’s roof are 5,439 feet tall!! It’s architectural style is “Neo futurism” which I have never heard of until now, but seems to be a theme in Dubai. It only took 5 years to build and cost about $1.5 Billion.
Fun fact: It is covered in hundreds of thousands of LED lights making the Burj Khalifa, in essence, the worlds largest LED screen!!! Its even shocking and beautiful when driving by on the highway at night.
A trip to Dubai just wouldn’t be complete without dune bashing, ATV’s and camel rides in the desert!
Add a traditional Bedouin camp dinner with live entertainment, sand boarding, and henna tattoos, and you’ve got an evening desert safari.
I would HIGHLY recommend doing this, as it was quite the experience.
Ask your concierge which tour they would recommend. I booked directly through a tour company online.
My one word of advice is to be careful if you decide to do the ATV’s with this company. Its a total madhouse and you have to specifically ask and wait for a helmet (which is not required, but believe me, get one).
I got bulldozed by a giant Dune Buggy and luckily only came out with a small bruise.
The other people in our group just opted to skip the ATV ride. The reviews for other tour companied mentioned that the ATVs were “boring” and had to stay on a track.
After seeing the alternative, I would definitely go for the “boring” ATV ride! My adventurous race car driving Italian husband actually agrees!
The Fairmont Dubai features not one, but two rooftop pools with incredible views. The Sunrise Pool and Jacuzzi are open from morning to mid afternoon, complete with poolside service and sun block bar.
Once the mid day sun covers the Sunrise pool area, the Sunset pool (with kids pool area) opens from afternoon until 10pm.
The gym features a range of both cardio and strength training fitness equipment along with free weights. Separate male and female steam rooms and saunas are available, as well as personal training services and aerobics classes.
This 40,000 sq foot spa is a luxurious, tranquil oasis. There is an entire menu of incredible treatments to choose from. After all that site seeing, treat yourself to a few hours in the ancient Roman style spa to relax and escape the mid day heat! Appointments available from 9am-10pm
When you book with Staff Travel Voyage, you get a 20% discount on all spa treatments.
With this many hot spots IN the hotel, you might night have to venture out of the Fairmont for an incredible night out in Dubai!
Start your day with an incredible breakfast under the soaring atrium ceiling at the Cascades restaurant from 6:30 to 11:30 am every day. You can order a la carte or partake in their delightful breakfast buffet with a selection of fresh, international delicousness!
Hot tip: The breakfast buffet here is really a foodies dream
You can enjoy everything from an egg station and home made pastries and breads, so fresh pressed juices and nut milks.You’ll find everything from imported French cheeses to local Arabic delights. Hot or cold, healthy or indulgent, they have all the bases covered.
In Noir, you dine in the pitch black as night vision goggle wearing waiters serve your five star gourmet cuisine.Its unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, and you will tase and enjoy your food in a whole new way.
This award winning restaurant is an adventure, and a true flavor experience. After enjoying your three course food and beverage pairing in the dark, you will have a chance to partake in a reception with the chef and manage to discuss your unique experience.
If you’ve never experienced dining in the dark, this is your chance! Don't miss out on this truly memorable experience
Turkish inspired cuisine and BBQ is served along with a variety of shisha offerings. If you’re looking for that middle eastern vibe with a great view, you’ll love Dokuz for dinner or an after dinner shisha and cocktail.
Hot tip: Enjoy this outdoor rooftop lounge while enjoying the skyline views of the city.
This award winning night life destination is a glamours Dubai hot spot. Come for dinner at the incredible Italian restaurant with an innovative menu, and stay for the evening.
Hot tip: Dance the night away as you sip champagne under Swarovsky crystal chandeliers with the VIPs.
There are frequently guest DJ’s and international talent, as well as nightly themes, specials, and events. Check the website or ask the very well informed concierge for details! Reservations recommended but not required. Be sure to dress smart and elegant for this location!
A quick and convenient cafe with delicious coffees and teas, and a relaxed atmosphere. The French Bistrot type cafe offers home made pastries, sandwiches and salads as well as chefs daily hot options.
Sushi, sashimi, maki rolls, salads... cafe sushi has all the good stuff. Open for lunch and dinner, this is a great place for a healthy bite of contemporary Japanese food on a fun rotating sushi belt. If you’re a serious sushi lover, go for the all you can eat sushi for 120 Dirham per person (about US $33). The fish is fresh and delicious!
A typical sports bar, complete with the pub food and bar games! With 11 screens, this is the place to watch your favorite team, enjoy a drink, or get to know some local expats in this rowdy and lively bar. Watch sports with commentary in your language by downloading the bar’s app onto your smartphone. They have a pretty extensive bar menu with a full list of drinks which is great if you get in late and are exhausted. Note that this is a “smoking” allowed bar and it can get super busy!
THE CIGAR BAR
A cigar lovers dream. The Cigar bar is just what you would imagine it would be: Mahogany lined, rich interior with a walk in humidor and an impressive selection of cigars.
Hot tip: The in house cigar sommelier hand checks all the cigars weekly to ensure quality.
This in house wine bar, is one of the best in Dubai. A great selection of wines, beers and spirits served with all the best in high end bar snacks, from wagyu burgers to oysters.
THE EXCHANGE GRILL
This is your five star on site steak house. From Kobe to New York Strip, you’ll find both steak house classics and culinary innovation that will all dazzle you.
A charming and authentic Greek restaurant with a true Mediterranean menu. Marinated meats, savory appetizers, and all your favorite home made Greek classics. You’ll even get some traditional Greek music and plate smashing! When you walk into Opa, it feels like you’re walking right into Greece.
Burj al Arab Jumeirah
The classic sail shaped hotel is one of the top 5 tallest hotels in the world and situated on a man made island attached to the beach by bridge. Watch the VIPs take off and land from the iconic helipad on top of the hotel.Try their two famous restaurants, one 200m up with a stunning view, and the other, in a simulated “underwater” environment surrounded by a giant aquarium!
Located in the oldest building in Dubai, an old military fort built in 1787, the Dubai Museum is definitely worth a visit if its your first time to Dubai.
It depicts the traditional way of life in the Emirates before Dubai became the modern masterpiece that it is today. See what the country was like before the invention of oil and the influx of the big bucks!
Jumeirah Public Beach
A gorgeous strip of white sand with a view of the Burj al Arab in the background. You can find sunbathers, beach goers and depending on the day kite and wind surfers.
The Palm Jumeirah Island
The famous man made palm shaped island is not to be missed! Check out the Aquaventure Waterpark, The Atlantis Hotel, and the gorgeous high end neighborhoods. Its a great spot to stop on the hop on hop off bus, or come for lunch and wander around one of the gorgeous hotels on the island.
Mall of the Emirates
Another one of Dubais top Mega Malls! This is the famous mall with the indoor skiing! If you’re dying to try it, you can rent all the gear you need to take a few passes down the slopes.
Dubai Gold Souk, Old Souk, and Spice Souk
Get a taste of the old Dubai and wander through the souks. Be sure to bring cash, and get ready to haggle. During prayer times all purchases will stop as most of the shop owners stop or leave to participate in the prayers.
If you’re looking to bring home some yellow gold, your own hookah, fresh saffron, or hand beaded clothes and housewares, this is the place! I’ve bought some fun things from this market like a traditional arab tea pot and a hand carved wooden camel!
As modern and progressive a city as Dubai is, it is still the middle east so dress and act accordingly.
Hand holding, hugging and kissing (even briefly) is unacceptable in public even for married couples.
For ladies, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered, and try to keep the cleavage under wraps. I brought a light linen shawl with me everywhere we went in case I felt the need to cover up more. Maxi dresses and tea length skirts will be your new BFF in this city.
On the beach you’re free to wear your bikini (Dont even think about untying that strap though!) But make sure to cover up BEFORE you leave the sand.
We saw many Europeans get scolded by security guards at “La Mer” when they stepped off the sand shirtless or with their swimsuit exposed.
When you’re in the more modern and western parts of town like night clubs and bars, more revealing clothing is acceptable, but be sure to cover up when going into monuments, museums, and the older part of town like the souks.
For men, shorts are OK in casual locations and on the beach, but if you’re going to a nice bar or restaurant make sure you’re wearing pants and a colored shirt. When in doubt, dress like you’re going to a golf club.
You can book the same deal as me by clicking on this link. Book your stay at the stunning Fairmont Hotel and embark on your own Dubai adventure!
Airline and Travel Staff Globally