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This desert playground for the super-rich boasts some of the most futuristic buildings in the world. It has enormous shopping malls and a devotion to innovation and excess that has created indoor ski hills, a giant aquarium and man-made islands. These examples of what minds can imagine and money can build have sprung up in a land of tradition where merchants sell their wares in traditional souks and men smoke shisha while discussing the news of the day. Think big and be sure to visit Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 2,717 feet high and the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center on the planet. You’ll also need somewhere special to stay, so check out our top picks for the best hotels in Dubai.
Best Overall: Park Hyatt Dubai
Dubai is an exciting city, but it can be somewhat overwhelming. The Park Hyatt provides an idyllic retreat set a little back from the bustle of malls and hotels on the Dubai Creek, nestled within a peaceful Golf and Yacht Club setting. However, you are still only a 10-minute drive from the international airport, the gold souk and the Dubai museum. The 223 rooms all have a terrace or balcony overlooking the picturesque creek and are decorated in elegant muted tones of white and cream. Expect to find complimentary Wi-Fi, a sumptuous breakfast each morning and luxe marble bathrooms. Relax at the hotel’s stunning Amara spa, use the sauna and steam room or get active at the fitness center. The Park Hyatt has eight choices for dining options, including a Thai and Middle Eastern restaurant, as well as its own shisha lounge, Café Arabesque.
Best Budget: Holiday Inn Express Dubai - Safa Park
Dubai is known for excess and splendor, so it can be hard to find a bargain, however, the Holiday Inn Express offers real value for money when visiting the United Arab Emirates. Located just minutes away from the Dubai mall on Sheikh Zayed Road, you’ll find it easy to get around, especially with the free shuttle service between the hotel and top attractions, including Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
A hot breakfast is included daily and the 171 spacious rooms feature a flat-screen TV, pillow menu and complimentary wireless Internet access. For your evening meal, you can choose from Muchachas Mexican Cantina, which has a lively ambiance or the Great Room restaurant for more formal dining. The fitness center is open 24 hours a day, which can be a great way to unwind and adjust your body clock after a long flight.
Best Boutique: Auris Boutique Hotel Apartments
Centrally located on Sheikh Zayed Road, you’ll be perfectly positioned to travel around the area since Sharaf DG Metro Station is right on your doorstep. Visit the Mall of the Emirates and check out the Madinat Jumeirah and the Wild Wadi Water Park which you may be able to see from your room. The 60 suites and units feature either one- or two-bedrooms and come with a separate living room, free Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Some units also come with a full kitchen for total flexibility and a chance to save a little money on eating out.
Take the elevator up to the rooftop pool and relax in the sun; there is also a sauna and fitness center to enjoy. A ground floor coffee shop serves breakfast, lunch and simple meals daily. The decor here is a little dated and it’s certainly not as opulent as some of the hotels in the city, but the price point is fair and the location is perfect.
Best for Families: Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah
Dubai is often promoted as a destination for couples but, it also has a lot of activities and events that appeal to the whole family. This hotel is part of a sprawling beachside resort that encompasses over 50 restaurants, three outdoor swimming pools, a turtle sanctuary and a private beach. Kids will especially love the unlimited access to the Wild Wadi waterpark and the theatre where live shows will amaze and entertain. The 283 luxury rooms, suites and 29 summer houses with their own private pools offer unparalleled luxury for your whole family. Expect to find traditional Arabian furnishings and styling in your spacious quarters, some of which come with butler service.
Best Romance: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
For special occasions, anniversaries or even your honeymoon, the 38 royal residences at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray are sure to delight and spark the flames of romance. Styled with Turkish marble and sophisticated dark woods, these exclusive lodgings sit around a private lagoon pool surrounded by tropical gardens. Wander hand-in-hand down to the private beach and gaze out at the Arabian Gulf or relax at the award-winning Talise Ottoman Spa. Enjoy the couples' massage and signature 1001 roses treatment incorporating a shared bath and strawberry plate. There are 16 boutiques here, so do a little window shopping and see if you can't spoil your honey with a souvenir of your magical vacation. Reserve a romantic dinner on the beach service where you’ll dine right by the water in a chic tent. The staff pride themselves on creating unique guest experiences and the team of concierges will arrange romantic treats to enjoy with our sweetheart.
Best Luxury: Residence & Spa at One&Only Royal Mirage Dubai
Located on a kilometer of private beach, you’ll certainly feel like a monarch amid the 63 acres of tropical gardens on Palm Island bay. Just minutes away from the Dubai Marina and many of the city's attractions, this luxury resort has everything you could need for an Arabian adventure. Enjoy a range of watersports on the beach, practice your golf swing nearby or rejuvenate at the spa and the traditional Oriental Hammam.
The Beach Garden Villa is reached by its own driveway and offers total privacy. It features two master bedrooms impress with chandeliers, sumptuous fabrics, a private temperature controlled swimming pool and an air-conditioned patio. Your luxury bathroom even has its own private hammam steam room. Entertain in your dining room or traditional Arabian majlis lounge while your private butler whips up some tasty treats in your kitchenette.
Best Nightlife/Best for Singles: Raffles Dubai
Located in the heart of the city close to malls, boutiques and souks, this hotel is an excellent base for a shopping break. The 252 rooms all feature an in-room digital system with an iPad, free Wi-Fi and satellite TV. You’ll also find a pillow menu, minibar and a private terrace with views of the city. Choose from seven restaurants and bars, including the Japanese rooftop restaurant, Tomo, which offers stunning skyline views. Order the Wagyu Sukiyaki, thin strips of melt-in-your-mouth beef, cooked to perfection at your table. Once evening hits, head up to the top floor and enjoys a fun night of music and dancing at the Solitaire Nightclub. Featuring 52 VIP tables, as well as a huge selection of premium champagnes and cocktails, this is the place to see and be seen.
Best Business: The Oberoi, Dubai
Located just minutes from the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Oberoi is the top choice for business travelers in the UAE. The 252 rooms are decorated with warmth and comfort, from the hand-tufted rugs to the muted relaxing color palette. Large windows fill your room with light and provide views over the hotel pool. Complimentary Internet service is provided for up to four devices, ensuring you stay up-to-date with the office back home and prepared for a day of meetings or conferences. Choose from four restaurants and finish the night off in style by visiting the rooftop bar, Iris, on the 27th-floor, complete with views of the iconic Burj Khalifa. Private butler service and concierge are poised to cater to any business need the corporate traveler may request. After a hard day, relax in the spa, float around in the pool or get fit at the gym.
Best Views: Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
No stay in Dubai is complete without a visit to the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, this world-famous hotel has been immortalized as the world's only seven-star hotel, but is in fact rated as a five-star. It is possibly the world's most photographed hotel and although a stay here is incredibly expensive, the views are priceless. You’ll be able to gaze out at sea, view the Palm Dubai and enjoy a close look at Burj Khalifa. The suite-only residence has a butler on every floor, a helipad for dramatic entrances and a Rolls Royce on call. Rooms here will not be to everyone's taste and can seem gaudy, but they do offer amazing views. Five swimming pools, a spa and a private beach provide multiple places to relax and re-charge. Nine restaurants will delight your taste buds with cuisine from Arabia, Asia and Europe.