It’s mind-boggling to think that this Middle Eastern megalopolis of gravity-defying skyscrapers, world-class shopping malls, and man-made islands—all at the edge of an endless desert—was once a lowly fishing village. It’s now known as the “City of Gold,” but there’s beauty and tranquility to be found in all that extravagance. From a no-expenses-spared seaside palace to a secluded desert oasis, these hotels top our must-stay list.
Bulgari Resort Dubai
Skyline-altering skyrise the Bulgari Resort Dubai is not: no building is more than four stories tall, allowing rooms and suites to spread out luxuriously along the private beach that fronts Jumeirah Bay—each with its own balcony, soaking tub, and walk-in closet. Decadence is found at every turn, from the spa’s gold-tile indoor pool and vitality pools to the yacht club—a Bulgari first—complete with its own members’ lounge and 50-slip harbor.
Atlantis, the Palm
This 1,539-room, $1.5 billion mega-resort may have adopted the scale and title of its Bahamas counterpart, but its lavishness far exceeds anything you’d find in the Caribbean. We’re talking next-level amenities—a 42-acre water park, a giant aquarium filled with some 65,000 sea creatures, a shopping mall exclusively stocking designer brands—and drama, drama everywhere, from the sky-high lobby with its fish-scale-chiseled columns and wraparound mural to the sheer range of guest rooms, including Underwater Suites whose windows look directly into the aquarium. But beware: all that fun comes with a price—and a crowd.
Burj Al Arab
Most hotels that’d self-describe themselves as “seven-star” deserve an eye roll, but not the Burj Al Arab. The hotel’s sail-like façade—now an icon of the city itself—has become a symbol of the no-holds-barred level of luxury Dubai has come to embody. Inside, 202 duplex suites are visions of marble and gold; one of the 11 restaurants, bars, and lounges is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling aquariums; and, at the Talise Spa, guests float between pampering treatments and a Roman-inspired amphitheater serving drinks and snacks. If you dream it up, Burj will deliver; if not, their fleet of Rolls Royces are on hand for taking you wherever it is you need to get it.
Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat
Of the many rooms at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah Resort, those at Dar Al Masyaf are by far the cream of the crop. The only way to reach them is by wooden boat through the resort’s waterways, but the effort is worth the reward: 283 rooms are divvied up among 29 two-story summer houses arranged around a private pool, each with their own butlers and direct access to either the beach or the fountain-filled gardens.
Armani Hotel Dubai
The debut hotel of a fashion powerhouse like Giorgio Armani was bound to break a few design barriers. In this case, a 160-room sleep of extraordinary sophistication in the world’s largest building. Floors 1-16, 38, and 39 of the Burj Khalifa are home to the Armani Hotel Dubai, which pairs Armani’s signature subdued palette with high doses of drama. Just look to the C-shaped leather couch and Arabic archways in the entrance, curved fabric walls and hidden closets in the guest rooms, and 12,000-square-foot spa. Elsewhere, a nightclub, a gift shop stocking Armani’s Privé collection, and an arsenal of restaurants including Armani/Amal, which serves Indian cuisine alongside views of the Dubai Fountain.
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