Here’s the latest first-hand report on Dubai’s top hotels. EliteVoyage travel designers Matous Grund and Adela Hubnerova just returned from the Emirate, where they experienced nine hotels in two weeks. Dubai is always changing. Here are their recommendations and personal tips.
Bulgari Dubai was the best hotel of our trip, due to the combination of service and architecture. The villas are exceptional and you can choose to stay on either the beach or skyline side. We loved the spa but the beach is not the best, as it’s artificial and located in a bay.
Bulgari Dubai is not a beach destination hotel. But it’s great for food. The Michelin Guide to Dubai was recently published and Bulgari Dubai won three stars. Il Ristorante-Niko Romito has two stars although we found it a little loud for such a fine dining experience. Restaurant Hoseki has one star.
Burj Al Arab
It’s an icon but the Burj Al Arab is really not our style. We were surprised at how old it feels – perhaps 20 years ago it was a seven-star hotel but not now. It’s heavy with gold and bling, even the in-room Dyson hair dryers are made in gold!
Since our last visit they’ve opened a new beach area, with a pool and cabanas. It’s a place to party, a little like Nikki Beach. Gilt Bar is cool as well.
It’s still worth visiting the Burj Al Arab because it’s so unique and over the top in style. But we don’t recommend staying there. Instead, make a table reservation at the one Michelin-star restaurant, or reserve a cabana at the beach club. Then you can check out the hotel as well.
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Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah
A lot is changing at the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah and there was a lot of construction work when we visited. However, this should all be finished in time for the season starting in November – December.
We found the hotel quite crowded, but this was maybe because not all areas were open. Overall we liked the pool, the rooms are very spacious, and there are good views of both the skyline and sea. Tasca by Jose Avillez is an excellent restaurant as well.
It was super exciting to see the development of the two new penthouses. Opening in November, these 500 square metre suites have a private pool on the hotel rooftop.
Jumeirah Al Naseem
Al Naseem is a huge property and we were quite disappointed. It takes a long time to go anywhere, which will be an even bigger annoyance for families. The architecture is modern but all the rooms are styled the same and we didn’t feel very special.
We had a premium room which included club entry, but the club was full, so there were no advantages to this. This is a resort and there are lots of amenities, yet it didn’t come close to our, admittedly high, expectations.
Atlantis the Palm
Atlantis the Palm has more rooms than Jumeirah Al Naseem, but it’s tall instead of wide, so you can easily and quickly go everywhere. We think it makes sense for families, as there’s the kids club, dolphins, entry to Dubai’s biggest water park, and a really nice beach.
All the rooms have recently been renovated so the hotel feels fresh, with lots of bright colours. They’re transforming what were two of the hotel’s best suites into a new Nobu restaurant. We checked out Hakkasan (above), their Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant. Atlantis the Palm is a huge entertainment resort, not only a hotel. Some people, especially families, will love the convenience. Whereas others may find it too big. Next door they’re finishing construction of Atlantis the Royal, which will be a more high-end hotel.
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Nikki Beach is a basic five-star hotel with one of Dubai’s most famous beach clubs. It’s a party place. Except, you can’t party in the hotel villas, because no visitors are allowed and you must keep the noise down.
We don’t recommend staying here. They have rooms with a skyline view, but the actual view is of a big harbour where old ships are noisily under renovation. The exception will be a new three-bedroom villa, called the party villa, that’s above the beach club. Here you can have up to 50 guests to continue the party after the club.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai
The Ritz-Carlton had the best service of all the hotels we visited. The pool and beach are awesome as well. The hotel itself looks and feels very old. Well it is almost 25 years old, which is prehistoric by Dubai’s standards. So they really try to make up for it with outstanding service.
There’s a new hotel development next door so it was a little noisy here and this will continue to be the case for at least another year.
One&Only Royal Mirage
We last experienced One&Only Royal Mirage in 2019 and the entire hotel has been renovated since then. Everything feels fresher and not as heavy in the Arabic style. It’s one of Dubai’s longest standing hotels and it’s extremely nice. We did feel like one and only.
The beach is incredible. It’s wide and long and private cabanas are included when you stay in one of the residences. We also liked the boat transfers to One&Only The Palm where you can use their facilities as well.
One&Only The Palm
Personally we felt that One&Only The Palm was an upgrade on Royal Mirage, although both hotels are exceptional and we can imagine many clients would prefer Royal Mirage.
One&Only The Palm has a very modern style and the spaces are ideal for families, especially the incredible villas. Overall the style here is more European, compared to Royal Mirage, which is a smaller and more intimate hotel. The service throughout both hotels is really top level, which can be said about all the One&Only properties we’ve visited.
Only two Dubai restaurants received two Michelin stars. So after starting at Bulgari Dubai, we ended here at the second of them, STAY by Yannick Alleno. Like the Bulgari Dubai, we highly recommend One&Only The Palm.
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