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Where to Stay and What to Do in The United Arab Emirates

Meg at the Jumeriah Zabeel Saray

21st July 2016: I had never travelled to the Emirates so I was a little apprehensive, especially as we were travelling during Ramadan, but I totally fell in love with it and actually found that Ramadan was a very good time of the year to travel. Here are my top tips for visiting the United Arab Emirates.

Where to Stay

With so many luxurious hotels to choose from, deciding where to stay can be a challenge. Each hotel is special in its own way, so it’s definitely important to make the most of your stay and explore the facilities.

1. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

A favourite among visitors is the luxury beachfront hotel, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. When we pulled up outside, we were greeted with a cool flannel and a refreshing drink, which was greatly received after our flight, proving that service really is of a high standard. I had the pleasure of staying in a Deluxe Sea View room, which was truly beautiful and extremely spacious. After a quick cocktail in the trendy Vodka Bar, it was nice to enjoy a relaxed evening with a soak in the humongous bath, which took 40 minuets to fill!

The Jumeriah Zabeel Saray is just 5 years old, with a very opulent style and an Arabian feel, but it’s still aimed at the British market. The hotel has been awarded the best spa in the world, and you are able to use many facilities complimentary when staying at the hotel. With a 59-metre infinity pool, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to relax with a dip in the pool or jacuzzi, as well as a pristine private beach for a relaxing stroll. Attendants bring complimentary ice bags with bottles of water in for guests enjoying the pool and beach area, or you could even order a refreshing cocktail at the pool bar or beachside restaurant.

The Zabeel Saray offers a delicious buffet breakfast, with plenty of variety, and is also home to ten different restaurants, so there’s always plenty of choice. For the majority of the time you will have the option of a free half board offer, so it is by far the best priced hotel if you are looking for a beach and a water park.

Meg Dubai Jumeriah Zabeel Saray pool

2. Burj Al Arab

One of the most iconic and world famous sites of Dubai is the striking, luxury Burj Al Arab Hotel. As you approach, you are totally wowed by the imposing, sail-shaped property, and passing the many pearl white Rolls Royces really sets the tone. Walking into the atrium, you are met with over 1,965 sq metres of 24-carat gold and the world’s highest lobby, so you definitely know you are in the world’s most luxurious hotel!

Built as a landmark to encourage tourism, the Burj Al Arab offers suite-only accommodation, with a private reception on every floor and a host of private butlers at your service. It’s home to 1,400 staff, meaning the ratio to guest is 7/1, which you can truly feel inside. Its newly opened private terrace is an impressive 10,000m outdoor luxury leisure facility, which stretches out 100m into the sea and includes two stunning pools and private cabanas. This impressive terrace was actually made in Finland, and then shipped across to minimise guest disruption.

With nine world-class restaurants and bars, and impeccable service, this truly is the place to spoil yourself. We were exceptionally lucky to have dinner whilst visiting the hotel, dining in the Al lwan restaurant, which served Arabic cuisine. The hotel may be 16 years old, but is still very contemporary in style and they are soon to start refurbishment work.

Meg Dubai Burj Al Arab

3. Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Our next hotel was the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, and wow what a place! This is definitely my kind of hotel. It stands out on the coastline as you approach, with breath-taking public areas including sculptures and fountains.

Our rooms were gorgeous; and luckily enough, we had been upgraded to Ocean View Junior Suites, which were enormous. It included a separate living area, huge marble bathroom, a dressing room and a large balcony with lovely furniture. I did not want to leave my room.

With an outside terrace for dining, we enjoyed the perfect temperature and beautiful views of surrounding mountains and sea. With an impressive fitness centre, spa and even an 18-hole golf course, there really is something for everyone. We spent a few hours at the pool, took a walk along the stunning beach and even managed to fit in a cheeky jet ski ride, followed by a cocktail at the pool bar. Finishing the day off with a delicious meal in the Skeikh's favourite restaurant, the Marjan, we were served the finest Middle Eastern cuisine.

Meg Dubai Waldorf Astoria

4. Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Heading into the desert, we arrived at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi, the United Emirates’ first desert resort and spa. This resort is a nature reserve, so as we pulled up to the property, there were oryx and gazelle freely roaming around.

We were treated to a rainforest spa, which consists of fourteen stations and takes around an hour to complete. With lavish treatments, made from local ingredients including herbs and spices, we felt completely relaxed, restored, and so lucky!

A golf buggy tour of the hotel, took us around the lovely pool villas, which were amazing. With private infinity pools, overlooking the vast desert, it was pure secluded luxury. It even has its own onsite equestrian centre, where the manager told us about setting up camel and horse rides, with and without carriages, so even non-riders can participate. It was definitely a unique desert oasis.

What to Do

Apart from relaxing, poolside in your hotel, the United Arab Emirates also offers plenty of other things to do. Staying in a Jumeriah property offers free entry to the Wild Wadi Water Park, which is located in between the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeriah Beach hotel. Although the water park is not massive, it has lots to keep you entertained for a fare few hours. With no queues we were on and off the slides in seconds.

Another excursion I’d recommend would be a city tour of Dubai, which I was really looking forward to. We had a lovely guide called Dana as well as our driver Amman, so we learnt lots about Dubai. Our tour took in the Marina, Jumeriah Beach Resort, and a quick peak at the JA Ocean View, then we headed to the impressive Dubai Mall. We walked through Dubai Mall, stopping at the aquarium inside, before taking a look at the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. To finish off the day, we made a visit to the fascinating Dubai Old Town and took a boat trip across the creak to the souks. Our trip just wouldn’t have been complete without a look around the shops, and some handbag purchases!

Dubai Marina

Handy Tips

As I mentioned previously, we travelled during Ramadan, so I was a little unsure of what to expect. Things are more laid back than you would think and actually there are so many pros for travelling at this time. We had quiet flights, much less traffic on the roads, uncrowded hotels, pools, beaches and water parks, plus amazing hotel rates and lots of deals to be had at this time of year.

With regards to dress code during this time, ladies are asked to cover their shoulders and knees in public places such as in the city, malls and marines, while men are to wear trousers, but things are far more relaxed in hotels. The weather was lovely, I was a little worried it would be too intense and far too hot for me, but it ranged from mid 30's to early 40's with a slight breeze and it was a dry heat so it's not to bad.

If you’re planning a visit, try to stay in a Jumeriah property, as the half board dine around is by far the best I have ever come across. You get to dine in over 50 restaurants, some of which are in shopping malls and the water park, plus you get free entrance into the Wild Wadi Water Park, which would normally cost over £50 per person, so already you get a saving of £200 for a family of four, as there is no child reduction.

All in all it was a truly memorable trip and one I loved every single second of and I cannot wait to return back to Dubai.

If Meg's blog made you want to book Dubai for your next break, we have sourced a number of fabulous offers on some of the hotels Meg visited and more...

Meg Gardiner, Travel Specialist


Meg Gardiner

Phone Meg: 01666 824801

Email Meg: [email protected]

Address: 1 Market Cross, Malmesbury, SN16 9AS

Travel Blog by Meg Gardiner


Meg Gardiner

Phone: 01666 824801

Email: [email protected]

Visit: 1 Market Cross, Malmesbury, SN16 9AS

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