Dubai is a very popular choice for a twin-centre honeymoon – being the hub of the fantastic national airline, Emirates, you can fly here from the UK and connect to countless destinations: the Maldives, Mauritius, South Africa, Thailand, Japan, Australia…I could go on and on. This isn’t the place to come for a traditional taste of the Middle East, though you should still observe local customs with regards to clothing (no bare shoulders, no mini-skirts and the like), but if you’re prepared for it being over-the-top and rather in-your-face, and want good restaurants, shopping and luxury hotels, then you’ll find enough to entertain you for a few days. And, if you’re prepared to do a little exploration and delve beneath its brash surface, you’ll be rewarded with a more traditional, interesting side of this city-state.
There are hundreds of hotels in Dubai – including hotels within hotels – but I’ve decided to focus here on three that offer something a little bit different and more interesting than just your average huge beach hotel. Any good travel agent will be able to make recommendations according to your preferences and budget. and remember that the rates here are just rack rates – you should be able to find more competitive rates through travel agents and hotel booking sites for these properties with just a bit of looking.
If you don’t want your stopover in Dubai to be a frenetic rush around town – or even if you do – and are looking for stylish surroundings, this could be the perfect spot. Run by the same company who own the superlative Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives, Desert Palm is small (with just 24 rooms), but has extensive facilities – cooking lessons, tennis and squash courts, horse-riding, a spa and…oh, a polo ground.
There’s a really cool sophistication about this place, but it doesn’t look stuffy in the slightest, which is always great news. Though the hotel is outside of the main city centre, it’s not so far away that you can’t spend your days exploring the city, and the little bit of distance will help make your honeymoon seem even more private. Trips – ranging from cruising Dubai Creek on a traditional dhow to a 4×4 desert safari and even skydiving – are available, though chances are you might just be content lounging around and soaking up the sun. From £306 a night.
If the glitz of most of Dubai’s luxury hotels is a bit much for you, or if you’re looking for somewhere that better reflects the part of the world you’re in, then head for The Palace, a beautiful riad-style hotel in downtown Dubai. Think lots of arched doorways and windows, lanterns casting dusky glows, and a swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and glamourous Arabian tents.
The bedrooms continue a sumptuous Middle Eastern theme, with lots of beautifully carved wooden furniture and deep-coloured fabrics offset by cool creams and whites. The spa, with its views over the adjacent lake, is an oasis of calm that’s perfect when you want to wind down at the end of a hot day in the city – there’s a couples’ suite that’s perfect for enjoying treatments together. The six bars and restaurants include the Ewaan Lounge, where you can sample a local shisha pipe or delicious meze, overlooking the pool. From £200 a night.
Though it’s part of the extensive Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Beit Al Bahar provides a luxurious hideaway, with just nineteen very private villas right by the sea. There’s no denying that this is a pretty flash place to stay, and it doesn’t come cheap, but the rates do include benefits like a personal butler, daily afternoon tea, and pre-dinner canapes and cocktails (always a nice perk).
The richly decorated villas each have a plunge pool – perfect for respite from the heat – or you can relax by the side of the main swimming pool, which can only be used by villa guests. From the restaurant you can make the most of the beautiful sea views, or, for the ultimate in indulgence, you can dine in your villa. And, of course, the joy of being part of a larger resort is that, when you feel like stepping out of your private enclave, you can enjoy a whole host of further facilities right on your doorstep. With rack rates of over £1000 a night, this place is really blow-the-budget – definitely see what travel agents can offer you if you’re interested in it, and hopefully you might be able to get a much better deal.