Breakfast at La Vendome
With its gilded interior, opulent surroundings, and unobstructed views of the hotel grounds and imposing marble columns on the hotel’s terrace, the Emirates Palace eatery is the perfect place to kickstart a luxury weekend. All three main meals of the day are utterly indulgent, but it's breakfast that takes the shiney crown - quite literally - with gold truffle scrambled eggs served in a gold egg shell, all washed down by gold-flaked cappaucino.
Emirates Palace, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi. emiratespalace.ae/ (02 690 7074)
Flyboarding in Abu Dhabi
Ever wished you could fly like Superman? Do back flips in the air? Well, now you can. Flyboarding was created in 2011 by the French Jet Ski designer Franky Zapata, and it has since become a hit with thrill-seeking celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Vin Diesel. The science behind it is surprisingly simple. Wearing rollerblade-style boots, a rider straps their feet to a board the size of a dinner tray. This board is connected to a Jet Ski by an 18m hose, and it is through here the power is supplied to propel the board up to 8m in the air. You don’t need to have muscles like Iron Man to be able to zoom around like him – you just need good balance. As long as you can keep your balance as you would on say, a wobble board, you’ll be fine. It doesn’t take too long to master either. A 30-minute session with Abu Dhabi Marine Sports on Yas Island costs Dhs300, while an hour is Dhs500. Regular flyboarders can learn tricks such as back flips and dolphin dives within a few sessions.
Brunch at Al Qasr
Al Qasr Brunch is spread across the vast majority of the ground floor of the uber-luxe hotel of the same name; you know, the one with the stable of gold horses on the driveway. The coveted spots are out on the terrace, where guests can dine while gazing out along the waterways of Madinat Jumeirah towards Burj Al Arab. Every cuisine is covered from paella to pad Thai, and with a sprinkling of live musicians and artists, it's the perfect high-end brunch.
Al Qasr Hotel, Al Sufouh Road, jumeirah.com/mjbrunch (04 366 6730).
Sunset drinks at Atmosphere
We’ll say this, and we’ll say this only once: It’s the tallest bar in the world. Yup, it just doesn’t get better than being 122 floors up while you sup on a mixed drink and watch the sun disappear as far into the horizon as you can see anywhere on earth without being on a plane.
Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai. atmosphereburjkhalifa.com (04 888 3828)
Dinner at The Ivy
Shipped in wholesale from Covent Garden, thankfully minus the paparazzi lurking in the rain outside, The Ivy Dubai does suffer by comparison when it comes to the walk up – where in the London it’s a hidden den on a dingy backstreet, here in Dubai it is to be found in the retail glitz of Jumeirah Emirates Towers. That it makes up for the discrepancy is down to some truly excellent staff (with all of the Ivy brand’s cheeky politeness), identikit decor of stained glass, deep wood panels and discreet booths, as well as the same comfort food favourites that have made it such a must-be-at spot for famished famous folk at its sister gaff. Forget your Thai-baked sea bass (though it’s actually pretty decent as it goes). The Ivy is all about long afternoons filled with shepherd’s pie, calf’s liver, and a proper taste of England.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers Boulevard, Sheikh Zayed Road. theivydubai.ae (04 432 3232)
Tickets to Dubai Opera
On Wednesday August 31, the city’s newest architectural icon will host its hugely anticipated inaugural performance, when it plays host to legendary Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. The opera superstar will be swiftly followed by The Pearl Fishers on Thursday September 1 and Saturday 3 and The Barber of Seville on Friday September 2 and Sunday 4, and a promised 72 more performances over the first four months alone. “We don’t know what the demand will be, but our expectation is that there will probably be between 200 and 250 performances a year,” says Jasper Hope, Dubai Opera’s chief executive.
Full details of all shows, visit www.dubaiopera.com.
Stay at Four Seasons DIFC
DIFC isn’t just home to some of the best restaurants in the city – it’s now also the address to Four Seasons’ second resort. The 106-room hotel offers a more boutique, curated aesthetic, compared to its sister property on Jumeirah Beach Road. Located metres away from Zuma, La Petite Maison, Boca, Gaucho and Indie, Four Seasons DIFC in one word: cool. This eight-storey property still has all the assets of what you’d expect from the Four Seasons brand: a world-class spa, Michelin-quality dining in the form of Firebird Diner and an in-room tailoring service from Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s.
From Dhs850 per room, per night. Gate Village, DIFC. fourseasons.com/dubaidifc (04 506 0000)
Desert Safari with Platinum Heritage
Dubai’s tourism industry is packed with desert safari options. Yet one company is on a mission to head in the opposite direction to the mainstream. As the name suggests, Platinum Heritage’s tours aren’t cheap, but neither is what’s on offer. Services are split into two categories: but it's the heritage collection that is best-loved, transporting guests in 1940s and ’50s Land Rovers around the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a royal property. Options include wildlife safaris, breakfast with a Bedouin and private falconry experiences, through to a seven-hour dinner safari.
Heritage dinner safari from Dhs495 per person. Platinum Heritage, Office 37, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, platinum-heritage.com (04 388 4044).
Stay at Al Maha
The Al Maha Desert Retreat and Spa really is just on the city’s outskirts: considering how peaceful it’s supposed to be, we hadn’t imagined it would really be so close to the roar of the metropolitan sprawl. Then it turns out it isn't, and the hotel pick you up to ferry the remaining 10km journey to reception. While all the luxury will keep you utterly relaxed, there are activities - two per day - available including falconry, a Ghaf-tree or nature walk, horse riding, archery, a desert or wildlife drive, sundowners or a sunset camel ride, as well as the spa treatments. The flagship restaurant, Al Diwan, is international and organic.
Suites start from Dhs2,900, or day passes start fromDhs500 per person for pool and spa access with lunch. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Take Exit 39 or Interchange 2 off Sheikh Zayed Road. Follow the signs to Al Ain onto the E66 Highway. (www.al-maha.com, 04 832 9900).