Dubai: Where V.I.P. is the M.O.
Dubai’s cloud-piercing towers and gleaming glass facades have been featured in plenty of photos—but the city’s pretty skyline is just the tip of the sand dune.
Can’t get comfy in your sprawling king-size bed? Burj Al Arab’s pillow menu offers 13 pillow and quilt choices—plus a bevy of butlers just waiting to fluff them. Missing Swimmy, your favorite pet goldfish? Schedule a dive with the dolphins at Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Pavilion Dive Centre before returning to your room with its majestic views of the Arabian Gulf. From chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce service and in-room pools to on-site theaters and modernized Hammam spas, Dubai hotels don’t shy away from decadence.
Even shopping in Dubai can be a lavish affair. Would you expect anything else from the city that invented an entire shopping holiday? Spend a day wandering the Dubai Mall—the largest mall in the world by area—and you’ll encounter everything from exclusive couture trends to one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. And when you’re done browsing all 1,200 shops (quite the feat!), there’s still an on-site aquarium to explore. Prefer to hone your haggling skills outside of Dubai’s high-gloss malls? You’ll find a number of souks—Middle-East style bazaars—packed with vendors selling scarves, kitchenware, earrings, textiles, gold, and more.
If shopping isn’t your bag, don’t worry—you can always hop into a jeep and go kick up some sand. Desert safaris take you off-roading in Dubai’s big, sandy backyard, where you can “ski” down the dunes, hitch a ride on a camel, or take in a grand desert sunset. Or, if all that sands seems like just too much, opt for a Dubai cruise. You’ll enjoy the same fantastic views of the Arabian Gulf and the same glowing sunsets—all from the comfort of a luxurious, modern ship.
Been there, done that? Share your favorite Dubai experience in the comments or look up tips for your next trip on IgoUgo.
My name: Kate Beall
How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.
Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.
First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.
View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.
Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.
Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.