Dubai is known for its extraordinary luxury hotels that pamper guests with tony rooms, refined international food and extra-special amenities.
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is a knockout from first glance with an unusual design that is built to look like a giant billowing sail reaching over 1,000 feet into the air. Come sundown, the hotel's exterior is aglow with a light show that moves across the sail-shaped structures. The hotel's interior is equally impressive with luxurious 2-floor suites. The Royal Suite is the most opulent and features a towering 4-poster canopy bed on a rotating pedestal and a staircase built from marble and gold. Each floor of the hotel has its own reception desk and team of butlers ready to assist you with requests, whether that's a chauffeured Rolls Royce to tour the town or reservations for a seafood feast of Caspian caviar, Tasmanian salmon with foie gras and grilled Atlantic lobster at the on-site restaurant Mahara.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
In the midst of the world's largest uninterrupted sand desert, the Qasr Al Sarab is a like a dreamy luxurious mirage providing a palatial retreat in the Empty Quarter of the Liwa Desert. Rooms are decked out in subdued earth tones with intricate mosaics and jewel-encrusted accessories. All rooms have views of the expansive desert, but the Deluxe Terrace rooms have the best, with wide terraces overlooking the sandy dunes. Sample fine Middle Eastern foods at the 4 restaurants, including the all-day buffets and cooking stations at Al Waha. The free-form pool is a welcome respite from the hot desert sun, as is the spa where ancient elixirs get a modern update with a floral foot bath, Thai herbal compress massage or a detoxifying green tea scrub.
In a city that strives to be over-the-top, the Shangri-La offers first-class luxury in a more restrained and very refined setting. There are 302 guest rooms with deep soaking tubs, rain showers and warm décor with sleek lines and local artwork. The signature restaurant, Shang Palace, serves high-end Cantonese specialties while Marrakech serves contemporary Moroccan cuisine in a bright and airy courtyard. Loungers circle the curved swimming pool where guests can relax after a game of squash or a workout in the fully equipped fitness center. And the hotel's location on the storied Sheikh Zayed Road puts it right in the center of Dubai's action with shopping, entertainment and wild skyscrapers just a few blocks away.
Al Qasr translates to "the Palace," and its posh, classical architecture and ornate embellishments are designed to invoke the feelings of an upscale Sheikh's summer residence. Al Qasr is part of the larger Madinat Jumeirah resort complex with sprawling facilities and a gorgeous stretch of sand at Jumeirah beach. There are 292 guest rooms decorated with classic Arabic flair and private patios, many with perfect ocean views. Hotel guests have full reign over the resort facilities including an impressive health club with a 25-meter indoor lap pool, water sports on the beach, a decadent spa and, for the youngest guests, Sinbad's Kids Club and water-park fun at Wild Wadi.
Bab Al Shams
Plan a romantic Arabian getaway at the intimate Bab Al Shams, a desert retreat just outside of Dubai. Even though there are just 113 rooms, the hotel has all of the amenities of a larger resort with 8 restaurants and bars, a stellar spa and 3 swimming pools. Rooms look out over the vast desert or perfectly landscaped gardens, while suites also boast private sun terraces. The signature restaurant, Al Hadheerah, is an open-air dining extravaganza that resembles a classic Arabic market with a bevy of belly dancers, roaming henna artists, live music and even falcon displays. Put the perfect end to your Arabian nights with a cocktail at the rooftop Al Sarab lounge with spectacular desert views and Shisha, or hookah pipes, with a variety of flavors.