The old: Verre
For years, Gordon Ramsay’s Dubai outpost ruled the local fine-dining scene. It’s got some steep competition now, but if you’re after well-established glamour (think starched tablecloths and silver service) rather than cutting-edge funk, head here.
Hilton Dubai Creek, Baniyas Road (04 212 7551; www.gordonramsay.com/dubai)
The new: Karma Kafe
This ‘kool’ joint has been brought to us by the folk behind Buddha Bar. You can tell. It uses the same formula: dim lighting, stunning decor, ethno-beats and exquisite dining and drinks. It looks set to become the place to see and be seen.
Souk al Bahar (04 423 0909; www.buddha-bar.com)
The old: Burj Al Arab
Dubai is synonymous with this grand, sail-shaped ‘seven-star’ hotel; indeed, it’s become somewhat of a microcosm of the city itself: entering the 10-year-old iconic building is like entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – magical, even if it is due to its downright outrageous opulence.
Jumeirah (04 301 7777; www.burj-al-arab.com)
The new: La Maison d’Hôtes
Why not stay in a French guesthouse in the Middle East? Tucked away in the prestigious Jumeirah (Dubai’s Riviera, if you will), La Maison d’Hôtes is utterly unique and makes for a great escape in this sandy land of grand hotels thanks to its European B&B charm.
Street 83B, Jumeirah One (04 344 1838; www.lamaisondhotesdubai.com)
The old: Desert safari
Convoy out of town in 4x4s to the sandy dunes where the driver will tear around, delighting in your fear-frozen smiles. Next you’ll pitch up at a desert camp for a barbecue; sisha, belly dancers and camel riding are also mandatory.
Alpha Tours (04 294 9888; www.alphatoursdubai.com)
The new: Active adventures
Hot air balloon over the desert and mountains at dawn (www.ballooning.ae) or microglide in a fixed-wing aircraft (www.jac-uae.net); cycle though the hills to discover the supposed tomb of the Queen of Sheba (www.adventure.ae); or go rock climbing and caving (www.mountainhighme.com).
Pay for two nights and stay for three at The Westin. Plus receive 20 per cent off all food and drink and even treatments at The Heavenly Spa. Offer valid until September 30 (04 399 4141; www.starwoodhotels.com)