Grab your camera and head to Dubai’s most photo-friendly hotels to get your own picture postcard snaps of the emirates best architecture.
Time Out Dubai staff
Burj Al Arab: It’s difficult to find a postcard or an advert for Dubai without a picture of the iconic Burj Al Arab on it. The seven-star wonder is so famous it even appears on the number plates here. A few sunset snaps of this building – by dazzling day or multi-coloured night – are an essential snap for any resident or tourist photo album. Call 04 301 7777 for more information.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers: Jumeirah Emirates Towers: After the Burj Al Arab the Jumeirah Emirates Towers is probably Dubai’s most photographed hotel. Combining residential, commercial, retail properties with a five-star hotel the “twin towers of Dubai” are the giant introduction to the Sheikh Zayed Road stretch. Wake up early enough and you may find the tips of the towers shrowded in mist. Call 04 330 0000 for more information.
Raffles Dubai: Not a patch on its Singaporean sister in terms of history but still pretty striking and certainly one of a kind, Raffles Dubai has already become something of an iconic building. Especially for the less tourist-heavy area it inhabits. Leave Dubai Airport and cross Garhoud Bridge and you will be presented with the giant pyramid that is the Raffles Hotel. Adjoined to the Egyptology themed Wafi mall Raffles is one of the most expensive hotels in Dubai and the pyramid’s peak is one of the city’s most exclusive clubs. Call 04 324 8888 for more information.
Atlantis, The Palm: Instantly recognizable as a direct descendent of the almost identical Bahamas hotel Atlantis The Palm has a lot going for it in the iconic stakes. To begin with it is situated at the very end of a gigantic palm-shaped island. Throw in the fact that it is Dubai’s largest hotel and has its own shark-infested water park and you can be sure that it will soon become one of the world’s most talked about holiday resorts. Call 04 426 0000 for more information.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel: Confirmation that architecture in Dubai is among the most interesting in the world is evidenced by the fact that the Jumeirah Beach Hotel doesn’t stand out any more. With so many unique and exciting projects being announced all the time it is possible to overlook the splendour of this design. Catch the right angle and it resembles a giant wave crashing in from the Arabian Gulf. Large balconies look down on the Wild Wadi theme park and across to the Burj Al Arab. Call 04 348 0000 for more information.
Bab Al Shams: A cheaper but less exclusive alternative to Al Maha, Bab Al Shams is a luxury hotel in the middle of the dunes. This grid of low-rise buildings made from pre-scratched, crumbling mock-sandstone is filled with hidden corridors and secret stairwells: rooms open directly onto the sands, while a swimming pool, spa and four restaurants cater to guests’ needs. The range of activities isn’t as extensive as at Al Maha (and mainly revolves around desert excursions), but there is a well-equipped children’s centre, which should keep your ankle-biters entertained. At night, enjoy a sunset shisha at Al Sarab bar or try out the Al Hadheerah desert restaurant, which offers a Disneyfied Arabian experience complete with belly dancer, band and some fairly potent shisha. Call 04 809 6100 for more information.
Dusit Thani: One of the most striking buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road, the Dusit is an arching colossus of glass and steel. Built to resemble a pair of hands clasped in a traditional Thai greeting it shuns Arabian style in favour of Far Eastern architecture. Its Thai-style decor is evident throughout, from the Asian-chic rooms to the smart sarong-wearing staff. Rooms are lovely, with rich browns and sweeping views. Guests can work out in the well-stocked gym with its bird’s-eye city views or laze in the 36th floor open-air pool. Call 04 343 3333 for more information.
Mina A’Salam: The Mina was the first hotel completed as part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort. Built around 3km (2 miles) of Venetian-style waterways filled with abras that ferry guests around the resort, the Mina is a gobsmackingly ambitious project that aims to marry Dubai’s modern-day opulence with its old-world architecture. The sand-coloured buildings are topped with legions of wind towers, and the interior is palatial. Each of the 292 sea-facing rooms are styled in keeping with the Arabian theme: heavy studded doors give way to Moorish arches hung with ornate lanterns, and the beds are piled high with exotic dark blue, red and gold fabrics. Call 04 366 8888 for more information.
Park Hyatt: Too good to leave only to golfers, this is also the destination hotel of choice for fashionistas; it’s rumoured that Elle Macpherson, Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani and Diane von Furstenberg have all stayed at this drop-dead gorgeous hotel. The Park Hyatt oozes calm and luxury – from its white Moroccan low-rise architecture to the tasteful modern interior – and is one of the best hotels in the city for high-flying business travellers who won’t miss the lack of a beach. Call 04 602 1234 for more information.
The Fairmont: Tourists who see this giant Sheikh Zayed Road structure for the first time are always drawn to the same feature: the multi-colour turrets on the roof. Atop the hulking great beast of a building they give the hotel its castle-like appearance. Inside the building is just as impressive, although slightly less imposing, and filled with a number of stylish outlets. Call 04 332 5555 for more information.