Dubai skyline - Marc Mordant Photography

My first visit to Dubai

Kanako Kuno. On the beach
Beach by Kanako Kuno

2015 was a quiet year on the travel front. Well, at least for me. My husband continued hopping on planes and visiting places like Manama, Marrakesh, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Davos, Dusseldorf, Paris, Porto, Berlin… But all for work.

Last year we decided to have less extravagant holidays, like honeymooning in South Africa in 2014, and planned a staycation in the UK and just a few weekends away, like Paris, to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary, and Tallinn, to celebrate my mum’s 60th (read the rest of my travel posts from here). But by November we desperately wanted some sun and heat as the British summer didn’t prove to be the warmest or the sunniest and Dubai seemed like a reasonable destination as it’s not as hot at that time of the year (gets up to 50 degrees during our summer months!) with sunny weather also guaranteed. My husband has been to Dubai on a number of occasions but always for work so this was the first time for me and first time holidaying there for him!

Firstly, just to set the scene, I’m including a lovely gallery with his photos:

We stayed in InterContinental Festival City for two nights and the remainder of our holiday at our friend’s apartment in the Marina:

Dubai Marina

Festival City is a bit of a distance away from the city centre but a taxi ride doesn’t take too long and it’s cheap! The hotel was absolutely lovely – luxurious interior, fabulous bars/restaurants, spa (enjoyed a wonderful massage on our last morning) and a big outdoor swimming pool with a bar where we chilled out the whole first day.

Room with a view at InterContinental Festival City

It’s worth mentioning the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Reflets by Pierre Gagnaire – ranked as 11th out of 8,473 by TripAdvisor, where we had a fantastic seven-course tasting menu. I did take photos of the food but I also photographed the bathroom that had mirrors everywhere and I could see myself in a reflection inside a reflection 🙂

Don’t think I’m too weird for photographing a bathroom 🙂

While I’m talking about food (and not bathrooms!), I will list all the great restaurants we ate at:

  • Armani Hotel – the hotel boasts seven restaurants and we had lunch at Armani Deli. It’s also a great venue for watching the amazing fountain show.
  • Sushi at Zeta Restaurant at The Address (Marc’s favourite hotel in Dubai) – a wonderful outdoor dining experience overlooking The Dubai Fountain.
  • Seafire Steakhouse at the Atlantis – priding themselves on serving the best steak in Dubai! I had lobster… 🙂
  • Brunch at Waldorf Astoria – first of all, a lovely hotel on The Palm Jumeirah with a private beach and the variety of food available for the Friday brunch was astonishing. A great foodie experience.
  • The Grand Grill at Habtoor Grand – a South African restaurant where we had our final dinner before flying back home. It was a great suggestion from our South African friend.

So these were just a few restaurant recommendations but the list is endless. You can really dine well in Dubai. It will also damage your wallet a bit but saying that, there are plenty of more reasonably priced eateries there too! We didn’t do fine dining every night :). When it comes to things to see or do, again, no point of me listing too many as there are a number of travel websites out there but I’ll name a few activities/visits that we were able to schedule in during our six-day stay:

  • Burj Khalifa – well, you cannot miss it, really. But if you have time, do go inside as well. We had lunch at Armani Hotel but unfortunately didn’t have time to arrange to go higher up to any of the observation decks.
  • Dubai Mall – once you’re near Burj Khalifa, again, something you cannot miss. It’s the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area and has everything you think you’d find in a big mall. Fancy a ski or a skating session? Sure. How about Underwater Zoo or if it is just shopping, there are over 1,200 shops to choose from!
  • Madinat Jumeirah – an authentic recreation of ancient Arabia with boutique hotels, summer houses, restaurants and bars. All interconnected by 3 kilometres of waterways and landscaped gardens.
  • Champagne brunch – if your stay includes a Friday (the start of Arabic weekend), many restaurants host a “champagne brunch.” Excessive amounts of food with free-flowing alcohol. As I already mentioned, we enjoyed our Friday brunch at Waldorf Astoria.

Had we a bit more time, perhaps even a whole other week, we probably would have done the desert safari and gone to see the historical district. There’s always a next time…

Oddly enough, on one of the days it rained there! The day before we could feel a small sandstorm coming our way but the rain pretty much cleared it. We must have brought this with us from the UK. This rainy day gave us an opportunity to walk around in the Dubai Mall and do a bit of shopping.

Dubai Mall

On our last day the rain cleared and it was time to enjoy some sun. As we were close to the Marina Beach, a free public beach, that’s where we headed.

So, what can I say, Dubai is an amazing experience, you will never get bored!

Featured image by Marc Mordant Photography

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