Dar Al Masyaf, Madinat Jumeirah
This is one of the four hotels at Madinat Jumeirah Resort and it is beyond amazing. Thnaks to all the amazing staff we had a very pleasant and relaxing stay. They literally attended to our every need and even managed to find me a hard pillow because I don't like soft ones!!
|Inner Courtyard of the Villa
|External view of the Villa
|Lobby at Al Qasr / Dar Al Masyaf
We alternated between the four breakfast restaurants and the food at each one was delicious. I really like Khaymat Al Bahar restaurant where the Lebanese cuisine is cooked to perfection and they have a juice bar where you can order literally any juice you want!
The beach was stunning, clean and just completely relaxing. I could live on that beach!
There is a family pool and Sinbad Club for kids where baby spent hours! (yes hours each day!) Again, the staff at the club, pool and beach were very welcoming and helpful.
|Sinbad Kids Club
The pool at Minalsalam Hotel was my hangout - quite and chilled!
The souk at Madinat Jumeirah has some lovely jewellery, ethnic wear, oud, and Arabian antiques and handmade crafts
|Souk Madinat Jumeirah
|Colorful jalabiyas at Souq Jumeirah
My only criticism is that the staff are although very polite to the guests, they were a little abrupt and rude to my guests, which was very annoying. In addition, another guest was incredibly rude to me asking me to get off a buggy (for no apparent reason!) and the buggy staff just stood there not even trying to manage the situation - is it just bad training?
I would like to go back but I think they could do with training the staff better to manage difficult situations.
Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah
We stayed at this hotel for one night but I have to say I was quite disappointed. The hotel itself and the rooms are very pretty but the pool and beach are very average. Also, due to the building works on either side of the hotel and opposite the beach, you feel like you are swimming in industrial waste. I only went in the sea for 5 minutes. It was very uncomfortable. Pool was a lot better and I spent most of the day there
The food was also very average, cooked in a hurry and rather tasteless. The staff are not on par with other hotels in terms of training. I found them both inattentive and not rude but not really bothering to smile or engage with the guests.
So, unfortunately, not one to go back to!
Things to do
The Fountain Show is a lovely choreographed show on Arabic and Western music (alternately) and takes place every 30 minutes from 6 pm onwards. Best place to see it from are outdoor seating areas in restaurants on the Emaar boulevard though you can just stand around on the boulevard and see the show but then be prepared for crowds and shoving!.
It is only a 5 minute show but very impressive!
The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis Hotel
The aquarium at Atlantis consists of multiple chambers housing a large number of unusual fish. The attractions are really amazing and worth a visit. There are even sharks, stingrays & lobsters! Allow about an hour for the attraction and I would say it is suitable for all ages.
The only thing that annoyed me were the bazillion security guards whose sole purpose is to prevent visitors from going to the Atlantis Hotel. They need to either just add doors that are locked, separating the aquarium from the hotel or train their guards in politeness/manners! They could at least mark off the restricted areas clearly! Talking to them was really exasperating and irritating. It kind of ruined my visit. I doubt I would go back!
|baby enjoying the views
Jumeirah Beach Residence is amazingly lively at night with JBR walk and beach walk dotted with great restaurants, shops and even a really cool market selling beachwear and summer accessories (including kids clothes!) That was my fav shopping find in Dubai and I highly recommend a visit
|M&Ms truck at JBR Beach Walk
|JBR Beach Market
Shopping in Dubai
Dubai is a prime shopping destination in the Gulf though I personally found everything more expensive than London (despite no taxes - go figure!). In the end, I decided that, except for gold jewellery, London is probably the best destination for shopping so yay, London!
Mall of the Emirates
In addition to all the usual high street shops, Mall of the Emirates, has a lot of restaurants and luxury shops and you may find items not necessarily available in London. However, the over-servicing of the staff (they really do not leave you alone so browsing is virtually impossible) and the costs ((much higher than London) did put me off!
|Mall of the Emirates
|Louis Vuitton at Mall of the Emirates
Souk Al Bahar
|At the Souk Al Bahar Entrance
This is a lovely mall in Downtown Dubai with many restaurants facing the Emaar Boulevard, where you can enjoy a lovely meal or coffee with the Fountain Show at Burj Khalifa. The Souk mall is not very large but is a good place for some lovely handmade products, bespoke boutiques and has a little crèche where you can leave your kids for a respite!
|Handmade items available on various stalls at the Souk
|Stunning Persian carpets ay Souk Al Bahar
Do not forget to visit the ice cream vendors there - they had the most amazing flavours of ice cream. I had a pomegranate and dark chocolate which was positively heavenly!
There really are a million cool places to eat in Dubai and they range from very cheap to ridiculously expensive though, in Dubai, cost is not really an indication of the quality of food. Here are a few selected eats from my trip:
Al Fanar, Town Centre, Jumeirah
We went to this restaurant in Town Centre for lunch and I was really impressed by the food, service and décor.
The food authentic Emarati and absolutely delicious. The dishes may be confusing for people not familiar with Emarati or Gulf food so ask the waiters - they are very helpful
My recommendations are Ragag with lamb (basically bread dough cooked with meat and vegetables - like a stew), machboos (Arabian rice with various meats) and their grilled fish.
Definitely one to go to again!
This is a lovely Turkish restaurant on Emaar Boulevard. Highly recommend you sit outside in the evenings to enjoy the fountain show at Burj Khalifa. The food is average but I would go there for the buzzing atmosphere and the show of course! The service was very good with very attentive staff. I would go back for dessert and drinks but not necessarily the food.
Eat Greek Kouzina, JBR
This is probably the closest you can go for getting the taste of the Greek cuisine in Dubai. The food was amazing and I love the atmosphere at JBR beach walk - so lively and buzzing. The service could be improved but it was a lovely experience overall.
Highly recommend the meatballs and the beef wrap - yummy!!! they wrap grilled beef and French fries in warm pitta and add a yummy yoghurt sauce. My mouth is watering so of course will be going back!
Brewster's, Madinat Jumeirah
Brewster's is at the Souk part of Madinat Jumeirah. It is like an amalgamation of cuisines where they serve pasta, burgers, fajitas, etc. I have to say I had reservations about the quality of food but the fajitas and pasta we ordered were simply delicious. The prices are also quite reasonable. Highly recommend it and would go again!
Smoky Beach, JBR Beach Walk
True to its name, its an outdoor Shisha lounge on JBR Beach Walk. It is fairly chilled and has great atmosphere. Service is good and food is good. I am not a shisha smoker so I could only sit there for about 30 min before my eyes started watering! Overall, nice place if you can abide the smell!
Other must-see attractions
Goodbye, Dubai, till next year!!