So, if you’ve read my blog over the past few weeks, followed me on Instagram, or basically have even known that I’m alive, then you’ll probs know that I swanned off to Dubai a couple of weeks back for a week of instagram porn exploring the incredible country and finding the best spots to add to my little grid of randomness that we call Instagram.
Lol, “swanned off”, we all know that rather than being completely carefree and effortless about the whole thing like I just made that sound, I was anxious Annie sweating profusely and praying that it would all go OK.
Double Lol for managing to sound like the world’s biggest twit in my description of Instagram.
But anyway, lack of descriptive skills and ability to take a chill pill aside, I went to Dubai – for the second time – with a group of people I’d never met before and an itinerary that looked simultaneously breathtaking and terrifying, and basically had the time of my life. So this is the moment where I could get all cheesy and cringe on you but I think I might save that for another time, so for now… [insert drippy sentence on pushing yourself out of your comfort zone/travel being the only thing you buy that leaves you richer etc. etc. here].
So as I mentioned, it was an Instagrammer trip so rather than put together a guide to Dubai to which I’m sure there are thousands, I thought I’d put together the Instagram guide to Dubai, featuring places that are complete photography porn and perfect “make everyone well jel” material.
So I thought I’d start with some hotels. I have two in this guide that are completely different but both equally stunning and my first “no I can’t believe my life, this place is dreamy af” option is the Jumeirah Emirates Tower hotel. Based in the city centre with amazing access to Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, downtown Dubai etc. this place is the perfect spot for those wanting to be able to experience the fast paced life of Dubai. The rooms are large, comfy and have insane views (especially from the 28th – *gulp* – floor) and the food was ridiculously good (The Rib Room was my favourite, Oh hi Steak heaven).
The Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Oh sweet hubba hubba I almost don’t know where to start. This place puts in a strong battle for one of the most incredible hotels that I’ve ever stayed in. Firstly, like Dubai itself, nearly every hotel is extremely luxurious and fancy, but the Zabeel Saray was just stunningly opulent on an entirely different level. On the beach itself with stunning views of the palm, the setting for me felt a lot more relaxed and soothing and it’s just the kinda place where you actually don’t mind staying in the hotel all day because it’s just that special. So the rooms, I think it’s safe to say that “luxury” just doesn’t do justice to how insane they really are. From the marble bath that was pretty much a swimming pool to the marshmallow beds that could fit at least 4 people – I mean, I didn’t test out that theory, just guessing [insert awkward/”no innuendos over here please” emoji’s here – every corner was utter perfection and a complete joy to stay in.
Moving onto the attractions and starting at the top – literally – with the “At the top” observation deck of the Burj Khalifa. At a whopping 828m, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world so visiting the observation deck is pretty darn special. It’s also just a bit surreal, you know, like… here I am just chilling at, oh wait… the highest frickin point in the world. It’s stunning, breathtaking and is an absolute must see!
I mean, unless you’re terrified of heights, then maybe skip this bad boy.
I’d never done anything like a sea plane before so Seawings Dubai was something that I was incredibly excited for and oh my god it didn’t disappoint. Seeing Dubai from the top of the Burj Khalifa is amazing, but flying around over the city and literally seeing the entire place from above was one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life. The only tip I have is to try not to sit next to the wing because it can slightly obscure your view but either way, it really is an incredible experience.
(We also had a pilot that looked a little bit like Calvin Harris so you know, winning in life).
So, the Burj Al Arab is a little bit like marmite. You might be looking at the photos thinking that it looks insanely incredible – and it is – but the reason why some people aren’t much of a fan is because it’s so luxury, and so opulent, and so otherworldly that it definitely borders on being a little too much, and perhaps, in the words of my friend Leyla, a little gaudy. And I get this completely. The Burj Al Arab is amazing and overwhelming but if it’s a beautiful and chilled experience that you’re after then this definitely isn’t for you. But if you’re visiting Dubai and want to see the – self proclaimed – 7 star hotel in all it’s glory (which I would 100% recommend) then definitely do it. We also ate at Scape which is a really beautiful restaurant delivering delicious food in a more relaxed environment. Whilst for our farewell dinner we ate at Nathan Outlaw’s Al Mahara and that was an absolute foodie delight. If you’re ever there, go for the tasting menu and wine pairing service because it is a dream!
Basically, the Burj Al Arab is sassy as hell but it is a little too much for some.
And the award for being as diplomatic as humanly possible goes to…
Of all of the things that I did in Dubai this time round, one of my absolute favourites – in the top 2 if we’re getting precise – would be the overnight Desert safari. To be totally honest with you, I think it may have been more to do with the fact that this was the thing that I was truly terrified off. Like, do I crap in a hole in the sand? Is it cold in the desert at night? Will the camels spit in my face? Will I wake everyone up because I pee 25 times a night like a 80 year old man?
(I can’t quite believe I’ve just been so tmi but we’re all friends here, right?)
Basically I had a lot of (unwarranted Kardashian-esque) anxiety about it but man, ohman, was it incredible. Dare I even be cheesy af and say life changing (I think I may have gone a little OTT there but let’s go with it). So here’s what we did; our amazing tour guide Samir – who will 100% never be reading this but if you are, thanks for being such a legend – picked us up, drove us to the desert where we transferred into vintage Land rovers and cruised along whilst the sun was setting on the way to our camp. Did we all throw a slight paddy because we went the long way around and ended up missing that perfect sunset shot? Yep [insert embarrassed emoji here]. But was running and jumping around like a lunatic in the sand trying to get said perfect shot before the sun disappeared ridiculously fun? Yeah, yeah it was pretty bloody incredible!
Our safari was with Platinum heritage and after missing the sunset, catching the falcon show and then heading to camp, we ate – babe’in food fyi – rode camels, smoked shisha/breathed in one breath and declared myself a granny that had had enough and then fell asleep under the stars. It was hectic, terrifyingly out of my comfort zone, but one of the best experiences of my life. Oh, and did I mention I saw two shooting stars? Yeaaaaaah buddy!
You know I mentioned my top 2 favourite things of the trip? Well hot air ballooning over the Arabian desert was the other. We woke up at 4am for this – I also didn’t fall asleep until 3am so lol, guess who felt like a corpse the whole way through? – but it was beyond worth it. If you haven’t been in a hot air balloon, it’s one of the most surreal things you’ll ever do. One thing I couldn’t get over was how peaceful and serene it was up there, despite being crammed in with not a huge amount of space, you can definitely take yourself off into your own little world and I am always forever grateful for that. Watching the sunrise from many many feet up in the air – i.e defs can’t remember how high we went – was an unforgettable memory that brought a tear to my eye made my hayfever start up again.
10 points to Gryffindor to anyone that gets the Tracey Beaker reference there!
Our Hot air balloon adventure was with Balloon Adventures and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough!
So these photos are kinda just a random mixture of our second from last night. We met at Madinat Jumeirah, took an Abra tour around the resort – which is huge and absolutely beautiful in the pitch black with all of it’s twinkling, stunning lights – had some drinks at Shimmers and then headed off to Pierchic, a gorgeous award-winning seafood restaurant perched at the end of a jetty with the most incredible views. Outrageously romantic, the most delicious food… it’s one of those places that you just kinda stare, in silence, at everything around you and realise that where you are is just a little bit insanely, amazing.
So that brings my Instagram guide to Dubai tour to an end. I will say that this time around I didn’t make it into the old Town but it really is bursting with culture and 100% worth a visit too to see a completely different side to Dubai. But other than that, if you do go (please squeeze me into your suitcase) then have the most amazing time. Because the thing about Dubai is it has a bit of a reputation for being over the top and all about money and a little bit gaudy… but you just can’t knock the fact that the vast majority of it can easily take your breath away. And that is pretty special.
I’d love to know if you’ve been to Dubai before or if you plan or going? What did you love the most or what are you most looking forward to? I always love hearing your thoughts 🙂
As always, thanks so much for reading!
A huge thanks to Visit Dubai for making so many dream experiences come true!