Ski chalets with Ski Dubai view from Dhs1,600 to Dhs28,000 for three-bedroom grand ski chalets (price per room, per night) Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 341 000).
Check in to a ski chalet for the weekend minus the airport hassle at Kempinski. We recommend the duplex chalet (from Dhs3,600 per night), where you can sit back in the bath – slap bang in the middle of your bedroom – and watch skiers hurl themselves down Ski Dubai’s smaller runs, or simply turn your phone off and forget what day and time it is thanks to the total lack of natural light.
Al Maha Desort Resort & Spa. www.emirateshotelsresorts.com/al-maha/en (04 303 4222) is on the Dubai-Al Ain highway (E66).
Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa is nestled right in the middle of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which became an official member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature since its successful reintroduction of the Arabian oryx, a spiky-horned beast that was extinct in the wild until a few years ago. There are about 200 oryx roaming the resort, along with gazelles and a variety of other native critters like the rare sand cat (though they are near impossible to spot), the Arabian red fox, gerbils and even Ethiopian hedgehogs.
Park Hyatt Dubai. Deira, Dubai. (04 602 1234)
Park Hyatt’s understated Moroccan-style atmosphere has made it popular with many of the celebrities that holiday in Dubai. The restaurants, from Traiteur to Thai Kitchen, are among the best in Deira, and Amara Spa is a Time Out favourite. The hotel is close to the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Deira City Centre. For a pleasantly surreal experience, have afternoon tea at The Lounge – the Arabic decor (complete with Persian carpets), indoor garden and surrounding water features makes it a memorable setting for scones and tea. Top tip: make time to lounge by the pool – it is the most peaceful in Dubai.
Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 0000).
Booking a room at Atlantis is not cheap (in fact, its Bridge Suite across the archway will set you back a cool $26,000 a night). But a night at this five-star funfair of a hotel means free unlimited access to Aquaventure, as well as preferential rates to swim with dolphins. When it comes to dining, Seafire was named Best Steakhouse at the 2011 Time Out Restaurant Awards, and Italian joint Ronda Locatelli is surprisingly affordable.
From Dhs440 per room per night, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Dubai, (04 427 1000).
Brunch has a knack of making you want to do one of two things: party hard, or sleep. At the Media One Hotel, take up an offer that allows you to polish off in excess your food (and drink), before choosing whether you are more in the mood for dancing or diving under the covers. Tuck into the Early Bird Brunch (noon-4pm) in The MED before moving on to M-DEK bar to party by the poolside. When you’re all danced out, simply jump into an elevator to your deluxe room for the blissful sleep you will surely be ready for.
Al Musalla Road, Bur Dubai, (04 353 5988).
Often described as Dubai’s own bit of bohemia, this tiny boutique hotel is tucked away above locals' favourite XVA Gallery & Cafe in the cultural Bastakiya area of town. Each room has been designed by a different local artist and you’ll find the hotel follows the Arabic ‘majlis’ idea of plenty of open-air living spaces. Try not to feel short-changed by the fairly expensive price for a small-ish (for Dubai) room with no mod cons. Close by the hotel, you’ll find a maze of galleries, Dubai’s (only) museum and small, independent stores and cafes to amble in and out of.
Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, Dubai (04 301 7777)
Welcome to the only seven-star hotel in the world. Okay, it’s officially a five-star hotel, but if there ever was a seven-star rating, the Burj Al Arab, or ‘Tower of the Arabs’, would get it. You’ll be picked up in a Rolls Royce from the airport, so you feel like a celebrity. The lobby, bright with a gold and mosaic theme, is a must-see. The most basic room here is their one-bedroom single suite that’s (a measly) 170 square metres, with its own living room, lounge area, bathroom with a Jacuzzi, bar counter and decor that’s more grandiose than minimalistic. The most expensive room will set you back almost $30,000.
Dar Al Masyaf, Jumeirah, Dubai, (04 366 8888)
Even by Dubai’s high standards of luxury, the Dar Al Masyaf summer houses are a little bit special. The 29 villas that make up the resort – the most sought-after beachfront properties in Dubai – consist of large rooms and suites that follow resort’s Arabic theme. With one pool to every three villas and 24-hour butler services, the palatial villas are wonderfully elegant. They carry a hefty price tag, but the two-storied quarters, with their lush, intimate settings and intricately landscaped gardens, are surely worth it.
Hatta Fort Hotel, Hatta, Dubai. (04 809 9333).
Everybody knows about the deserts and dunes in Dubai, but if you’re prepared to travel just a little further inland, you can add a mountain range to the available environments. The Hajar mountains are the largest in the Arabian Peninsula and border the UAE and Oman. You’re very unlikely to spot snow-capped peaks at any time of year, but rugged beauty and craggy backdrops are standard. Make the Hatta Fort Hotel your base for exploring and take one of the large chalet-style rooms. The hotel grounds are vast, but we encourage you to get out into the mountains for some trekking and a visit to the Hatta Pools.
Dubai Youth Hostel, Qusais Road, Ghusais, Dubai (04 298 8161)
Budget accommodation in Dubai is something of a misnomer. While destinations around the world may boast of $5 a night hotel stays, Dubai budget means anything less than $100 a night. That’s where Dubai Youth Hostel comes in. A young traveller can find a room for less than Dhs100 a night. You might find yourself having to pay out a little bit more on taxis to make up for its out-of-the-way location close to the Dubai Airport, but the facilities are fantastic for this price range. Anybody who has ever stayed in cramped, flea-ridden hostels in Europe may be surprised to learn that Dubai’s branch has a private swimming pool and leisure facilities.