What to do in Dubai Airport: from dining and shopping to sleep options

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Terminal 1

Hour 1
You’ve handed over your case bursting with holiday clothes, cleared security and zipped your way through e-Gate, it’s been an almighty effort but now it’s time to kick-start your holiday. Head to Pret A Manger (ground floor, Concourse D, 04 294 3555), one of only two in Dubai, and recharge with a proper caffeine fix. It’s open 24 hours and serves the usual organic blend of coffee you know and love, as well as tasty toasties, paninis and freshly baked pastries. Alternatively, head to one of the more than 20 Costa Coffee stores across Dubai International Airport for your caffeine boost and a cake. Coffee not the strong pick-me-up you were after? Then up the ante with an oxygen aromatherapy treatment at Be Relax (near Gate D10, Concourse D, 04 235 8703). It is designed to reenergise you by boosting your oxygen intake by 50 percent. Plus, there are massages, facials, manis, pedis and many other more treatments available – now that’s how to get into holiday mode.

Hour 2
Carry on your pampering with some retail therapy at Dubai Duty Free (various locations throughout DXB, 04 216 2453). It was recently voted the Middle East’s best travel retailer and best airport duty free, for good reason. You’ll find exclusive fragrances on sale, the latest tech and gadgets and designer fashion brands, as well as the duty free stalwarts giant Toblerones and M&Ms. Don’t miss out on the DDF Millennium Millionaire draw (various locations throughout DXB, www.dubaidutyfree.com). Every month you can win a $1million (Dhs3.7million) jackpot – now imagine the jet-setting lifestyle you’d lead after that? Or if you need a nap, head to the Snoozecube (near Gate D22, Concourse D, 04 269 6228) and pay-as-you-sleep. There are pods for single travellers and cubes for families. You can unwind in a comfortable bed, knowing all along you won’t miss your connecting flight thanks to a gentle wake-up call.
Hour 3
Just 60 minutes to go and it’s time to refuel after all that bargain-hunting, lottery playing and snoozing. Head to family-friendly The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck (Concourse D, 04 236 7180), where you’ll find lip-smacking pizzas, pastas, burgers and steaks, plus a chef’s menu incorporating Wolfgang’s classics. You can also start the post-holiday diet early with egg white omelettes or granola and yoghurt. Or why not watch the sport at The Draft House (Concourse D, 04 294 0822), where until Sunday September 30 you’ll have the chance to win a Dhs10,000 dnata travel voucher, too. All you have to do is spend Dhs200 and complete a competition card to be entered into the draw. Grab a burger and a drink for just Dhs155, and get ready for the next leg of your trip.

Terminal 3

Hour 1
Now, you could head straight to the Emirates lounges (Concourse A, B and C, Terminal 3, 600 555 555), we wouldn’t blame you for watching a blockbuster on the VR headsets while the kids play on Mario Kart in the arcade room, but to really make the most of your transit experience we insist you explore the terminal. You’ve probably realised by now that DXB is no ordinary airport, so get the kids’ blood pumping (or just yours) at BOUNCE (near Gate B27, Concourse B, 04 321 1400). There are trampolines leading into a squashy Big Bag crash pad, a climbing wall, kids’ parkour course and a trampoline basketball court perfect for slam dunking. Or brush up on some culture at artDXB’s galleries (corridor linking Concourse B and C) and soak in the two 46-metre wall pieces. The Spirit of Dubai is the coming together of Emirati artist Abdullah Lufti’s work, complemented by a graffiti installation created by The Domino agency, on the opposing wall. It’s all intended to tell the story of Dubai’s history, from old to new, and through the eyes of life at DXB.

Hour 2
If you’re struggling to find somewhere that pleases the whole family, especially fussy eaters, you’ll be up to your neck with choice at Giraffe (near Gate A18, Concourse A, 04 298 9376). You could literally eat your way around the world with a Mexican breakfast of huevos rancheros, Indian kati roll for lunch and a Japanese katsu chicken noodle bowl for dinner. It’s family-friendly and runs 24 hours. Or perhaps it’s the grown-up American experience you’re looking for. If so, Jack’s Bar & Grill (near Gate A15, Concourse A, 04 298 9481) is the place to head to. This casual venue captures the spirit of traditional southern American charm, so keep the decorum while watching the sport (if you may, ladies and gentlemen). The menu of tasty burgers and grilled platters are why we go, as well as the six TVs and giant screen, perfect for the Summer of Sport.
Hour 3
It’s time to digest. Now there are two ways we like to do it. One is by streaming one of hundreds of movies completely free of charge. Log onto DXB’s super-fast, free wi-fi, browse ICFLIX’s latest list of blockbusters and relax. Little ones will love hits like the five-time Oscar-winner Hugo or classics such as The Never Ending Story. While big kids can enjoy a stellar cast in The Expendables or Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Flicks are available in three languages, too – Arabic, English and French. The other way is with a well-earned treatment at XpresSpa (near Gate B21, Concourse B, 04 343 3011). Leave the kids in front of the screen with your other half and slope off for a quick manicure, 45-minute seaweed facial or full body massage. They last up to 90 minutes, but it’ll be over before you know it. Heading to visit family? On your way to the gate, don’t forget to pick up a gift – a personalised, engraved bottle from Le Clos (Concourse A and B, www.leclos.net). It takes just ten minutes to do on the spot – or you can order online ahead of arriving at the airport, and collect as soon as you get there.

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