Al Ain Rd., Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
If you're staying in central Dubai, you'll want to get out to the desert for an excursion at some point, but if you're looking for a full-on desert holiday, there are a number of places you can stay outside of the city, including Al Maha resort and spa. Their suites come with private pools and decks, and vary in size, accommodating couples and up to six people. The Presidential Suite is the largest, with three bedrooms, a private kitchen and courtyard, and an expansive desert, backyard view. This is a comfortable option for families—there are two king-sized beds and one room with twin beds—but note that Al Mah is a ten-year-old-and-up resort.
Burj Khalifa, Downtown
Part of the world’s tallest building, the unapologetically luxe Armani hotel is the first hospitality project by fashion designer Giorgio Armani. The vibe is masculine and minimal, but somehow warm at the same time, with custom-made furnishings done in neutral browns and sleek grays. Taking the concept of Italian hospitality and running with it, management hooks up each guest with a lifestyle manager to book treatments at the on-site spa, arrange dinners at any of the hotel's seven restaurants (don't leave without sampling the menu at Armani/Ristorante), and organizing Bentleys for airport pickups and drop-offs. Ask for a room overlooking the fountains, you won’t be disappointed.
Burj Al Arab
Before Dubai was Dubai, and before the Burj Khalifa was built, there was the Buj al Arab—really the only landmark that existed in Dubai fifteen years ago. One of the world's iconic hotels, it's regularly referred to as the only seven-star hotel (there's no such thing), and known for it's impeccable service, with a manned butler station positioned on every floor. The suites (particularly their specialty versions, like the Presidential and Royal), are over the top in every sense—enormous spaces filled rotating canopy beds (some with gilded mirrors overhead), man-cave-like library rooms, formal dining tables, private cinema spaces, different patterned rugs and pillows everywhere, sweeping grand staircases, gigantic marble columns, dressing rooms bigger than most NYC-sized apartments, tubs bigger than most NYC-sized bathrooms, and gold, gold, and more gold. It's sensory overload to be certain, but the fact that the decor hasn't been brought into this decade is all part of the shtick. Actually staying here will cost you—but plan to see the inside of the Burj Al Arab while you're here in any case, because it's a trip in and of itself. (You won't miss the exterior, which…
At the end of 2016, Nikki Beach opened a resort, spa, and a series of fifteen private villas on the Pearl Jumeirah property next to their pool club. In contrast to the overstated luxury that you'll find elsewhere in Dubai, Nikki Beach takes a minimalistic approach that is aesthetically very pleasing. Bright and modern, the expansive spaces are the artwork of Italian designer Gregory Gatserelia of Beirut-based Gatserelia Design. Everything is bright and modern, polished (but not coldly so). The multiple-floor beachside villas, which have their own pools, are hard to beat (shocker), but the resort rooms are lovely overall, and everything is lent an intimate, oasis feel.
Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai
This palatial hotel is 100 percent pure Versace, from the bespoke fabrics to custom furnishings all in the inimitable Italian fashion house's signature style. With 215 rooms and suites, more than a hundred residences, eight restaurants and bars (each with an al fresco terrace), three outdoor pools, and unobstructed views of the Dubai Creek and the city skyline, it basically doesn’t get any fancier than this. Consider it a must-see, even if you just stop in for lunch and a stroll through their gorgeously manicured gardens.
Jumeirah Beach Residences
Dubai’s Ritz has a lot to offer, even beyond what you’d expect from a Ritz (excellent service, abundant amenities, generally luxurious furnishings, etc.). For starters, the location is hard to beat: it’s situated in JBR—super close to the water—which means that addition to being beautiful, it’s in a very walkable part of Dubai (slightly removed but close to the center of beach activity) that’s brimming with energy. Their restaurant, Blue Jade, is a next-level sushi restaurant that is a draw independent of the hotel. Plus, the Ritz is one of several great places to try a lavish Dubai afternoon tea situation—their bar, Lobby Lounge, serves tea daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., which means you can opt into a full experience that includes decadent bites ranging from éclairs to smoked salmon rillettes (and whiskey flights, if that’s more your thing).
Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Habtoor City
This integrated urban resort, part of newish hotel collection in Al Habtoor City on the banks of Dubai Water Canal, the St. Regis in Dubai is truly, outrageously luxurious. Butler service is available to all guests, and the breathtaking décor (complete with a grand staircase) is heavily inspired by the iconic beaux-arts architecture of the original St. Regis New York. There are eight restaurants and bars to choose from here, plus a private helipad, outdoor and rooftop pools, a full-service spa, and a brand-new water theatre right next door—basically, everything you’d ever need in a beautiful waterfront compound.
Crescent Rd., Palm Jumeirah
Only in Dubai could an archipelago in the shape of a palm tree be a thing. Located on Palm Jumeirah island, the Waldorf Astoria is a good option if the idea of being removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, and spending relatively more time relaxing by the pool/beach appeals to you. (There's only one road on and off the island—via the "trunk" of the palm tree—so it adds a bit of time to touring around.) It's family-friendly (one pool is adults only and the other for all ages), so a good option if you have kids in tow, as there are a handful of outdoor activities they can get into right on the property. The seaside rooms have balconies seemingly made for enjoying coffee with a view in the am (the buffet breakfast downstairs is solid, too, though). Probably most notable about the suites are their oversized glass-and-marble bathrooms, with luxurious waterfall shower heads and soaking tubs. The spa is fantastic, and three-star Michelin Chef Heinz Beck has a restaurant here, too. Also on Palm Jumeirah: There's a path for walking/running/biking, which you can pick up…
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