Opulence, neck-craning skyscrapers that could belong in an art museum, decadence, wealth… these words encapsulate the new Dubai for me. It is the diverse, metropolitan and sophisticated love child of Las Vegas and Miami. It has the desert and luxury hotels of Las Vegas and Miami’s sexiness and beaches, oozing with a level of obvious wealth that neither U.S. city can match.
Starting from the cab ride from the airport, driving on the winding 5 and 6 lane highways to the amount of newly constructed luxury town homes and buildings on either side, Dubai is just getting started in becoming the worlds’ foremost luxury destination.
One of the many towering buildings in mid -construction that lines the highways in Dubai
Dubai also seamlessly fuses ancient Middle Eastern and modern Western influences so I divided this travel post into 2 parts: NEW DUBAI and OLD DUBAI.
Beginning with NEW DUBAI
How we got there…
Logo featured inside the airplane
When we decided to go to Dubai, all my husband could talk about is how great he heard Emirates Airlines was, the fancy double-decker planes with a bar on the second floor and the amazing service. So this was his chance to have the Emirates experience.
Even though it hurt me to bypass the $600 flights to purchase an $800 flight with Emirates, I didn’t give my husband too much push back so that he could fulfill his desire – well, at least as little push back as my frugal self could give.
The traveling crew ready for take off
In short, because I don’t like to dwell on the negatives, Emirates just was not worth it. Unless you’re on baller status and have the extra $3200 to pay for an upgrade to business class, save your $200 bucks and fly another airline. Emirates many have a reputation of luxury but that luxury does not trickle down to the economy class that we were in. And the flight attendants unfortunately were not very nice at all – they were cold and not very helpful. I’ve had comparable and even better experiences on international flights from the food to the customer service to the in flight entertainment with Delta and Air France.
We stayed at City Premier Hotel and Apartments on Sheikh Zayed Road beside Business Bay Metro Station.
We had a humongous suite, way bigger than most New York apartments. But the best part was the balcony that spanned the length of our entire room and had a view of the Burj Kalifah.
Balcony view of the Burj Khalifa, right before sundown
Night time balcony view of the Burj Khalifa
The food at the hotel restaurant and room service, was not great, which was disappointing for me who loves to experience new delicious foods when traveling.
However, the service was very good, the staff was extra polite and accommodating. They literally had 6 people to man the front entrance and open the doors for the guests.
DUBAI MALL and the BURJ KHALIFA
We walked through the Dubai Mall to get to the Burj Khalifa – the tallest man made structure in the world. Most of the retailers in the mall were high end like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and the like. And in the middle, there was a floor to ceiling aquarium filled with huge fish, sting rays and even sharks – it was breathtaking.
Dubai Aquarium and Zoo
You have to purchase tickets to get into the Burj Khalifa and the tickets in my opinion were not cheap – $158USD each for this experience.
This was also my first of many experiences seeing how incredibly efficient Emirates are – they are experts at moving crowds through lines quickly and smoothly – Walmart really should study the Emiratis to learn how to improve.
My ticket to the top of the Burj Khalifa
Our group had to pause through a number of holding areas before entering the final elevator that took us to the top of the tower. The elevator reached the top in less than 2 and a half minutes – once again, Emiratis are experts in efficiency.
To complement the best views in the city they also served pastries and non-alcoholic drinks.
Enjoying the refreshments served at the top of the Burj Khalifa
While at the top, I often had to remind myself how high up I was – 160 stories, over 2500 feet in the sky. The elevator took us to the top so fast and the balconies where we stood overlooking the city are so solid, that I never got that dizzying feeling that I can sometimes get when I’m up so high.
The view overlooking the city had a haze over it like a filter because of the desert sand swirling around in the air.
ZERO GRAVITY DUBAI
Here at this beach club, I felt like I was back in South Beach, with all the sexy people lounging by the infinity pool right on the beach overlooking the gorgeous water that separated us from more skyscrapers and a ferris wheel.
This was a relaxing afternoon and the food was actually pretty good.
Fried chicken sliders on black charcoal buns, turkey club sandwich and a pepperoni pizza
One of the highlights of my trip was our 2 hour yacht trip that sailed from the marina around to the Atlantis Dubai and back.
Any time spent on the water for me is like heaven – there is something so beautiful almost spiritual about it for me.
It was a great time with family and new friends in beautiful surroundings.
DINNER AT JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL
I must admit that most of my food experiences in Dubai were not great.
Up until my husband and I decided to split from the group the last night in search for a place to have a nice dinner together. We ended up at an Argentinian restaurant called La Parrilla, located on the top floor of the Jumeirah Beach hotel.
It was the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten but, it did not disappoint.
The restaurant had live music which was a nice touch to go with the incredible views. We ordered tapas as our appetizers
Chorizo Meatballs and Seafood Croquettes
and for our entrée, we ordered the Rib Eye for 2 with the smashed potato and asparagus for our sides
The waiter wheeled out the Flinstones sized steak to our table, cut the meat off the bone and salted it in front of us, adding a nice touch to the culinary experience. The steak tasted just as good as the presentation – it was delicious.
For dessert, we split the Acai Berry Cheesecake. It was tiny but, yummy.
After dinner we decided to take a stroll on the property which is huge and has a great view of the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel.
– You do not need to tip in Dubai, not for your waiter or your cab driver. It’s not necessary.
– Bring lots of cash (dirhams) with you. The city is very spread out so you will need to take cabs everywhere and right now cabs do not accept credit cards
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Old Dubai that will also include my final thoughts and review on Dubai