Sunday, May 11

THE TOP THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI


After just having entertained my family in Dubai for ten days coupled with with numerous emails I receive from friends asking for advice on how to make the most of their holiday in Dubai, I decided to write a blog post about our amazing city.  I hope it will offer some ideas in planning your vacay, whether you are hosting visitors or coming to Dubai for the first time x


AL QASR & SOUQ MADINAT




The Al Qasr hotel is part of the Mina Al Salam hotel and the whole complex is sitting on water, it's stunning day or night.  They have these very romantic water boats called Abras, that take you across the waters from the restaurants to the bars in true local style.  There is literally sooo much to do at this hotel, from the theatre, to the Souqs, multiple restaurants, bars and clubs.   I have eaten at a few of the restaurants and here are the ones that I would definitely recommend;

  • Pai Thai - Thai food that will blow your socks off
  • Al Hambra - Spanish Tapas with a live band
  • Meat Co - Steak House
  • MJs - Michael Jordan's Steak House
  • There is also a new restaurant there called The Hide, which I am trying this weekend

My family always enjoy the Al Qasr champagne brunch, which is probably one of the best brunches in Dubai to go to.  Their is a vast amount of food served at brunch, so much so that it is sprawled over three restaurants so you will be sure to find a cuisine for all tastes.   They have all different cocktail stands along the terrace outside to help you on your merry way too.  My Dad is a fan of the brandy counter which is just outside MJs restaurant, where I tend to stick to the bubbles and take full advantage of the unlimited pouring.  In terms of attire, I would dress glam and expect to leave very wobbly on the heels.

Brunch is a huge part of Dubai culture and you will find a lot of expats spend their friday afternoons brunching (getting drunk).  The concept is great as you indulge in amazing food, with free flowing beverages, in a scenic location.  They typically get quite messy, and whilst you may arrive looking gorge, there is no doubt you 'll be leaving looking a little windswept staggering onto the next venue for sundowners.

Al Qasr Brunch, every Friday 12.30-4.00pm - AED 550 per head


RAVI'S RESTAURANT


Ravi’s Restaurant has become an institute of Dubai, loved by all nationalities, cooking up the best Pakinstani curries in town served to you on the streets of Satwa.  I was first introduced to Ravi’s when I arrived in Dubai in 2008 and has become a must-do for all my friends and family who visit.  It’s really loved by tourists and residents as it’s nice to escape the glitz and the glam that Dubai offers and get a little bit more ghetto for the night.

Think Indian style cuisine, spicy and dead cheap.  My standard order consists of a Chicken Handy, Dahl Lentil and Vegetarian Kofta  to share for two and you can expect to pay about 20Dhs a dish.  Salad and nan is served complimentary and I wouldn’t even order additional rice or breads as the food is really filling.

My Menu Choice:
  • Dahl Lentil
  • Chicken Handy
  • Vegetarian Kofta
  • Mix Grill
Expect to share a table with other diners and do not rock are wearing your best couture as you will look a fool!  You’ll be sitting on plastic garden chairs, dining in the street, eating with your hands, and you may even get a stray cat or two joining you.  I usually just chuck on jeans and a T – it’s very relaxed so you can wear what you like but I would stay away from shorts and skirts otherwise the locals just stare at you which makes me feel uncomfortable.

Parking and traffic can be a bit of a nightmare in Satwa so I would take a cab.  After dinner you can walk off your food in the neighboring town Karama, where all Dubai girls go (and most British D-List celebrities) to buy high quality leather handbags ‘inspired’ by designers.


TRAITEUR BRUNCH




Traiteur brunch is my favourite brunch in Dubai.  It sits within the beautiful grounds of the Park Hyatt hotel in Deira, which is about twenty minutes away from the Marina.  The selection of food is a lot smaller than the extravagant brunches such as Al Qasr, The Westin and Saffron, but the standard of the menu and delicacies on offer are absolutely premium.

This brunch is perfect for when the parents are over, it is civilized, chic yet understated and makes for a lovely afternoon of fine food and champagne

Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Hotel.  12.30-4.00pm every Friday - Sparkly package AED550 per head


SOUK AL BAHA & DUBAI FOUNTAINS






Dinner at Souk Al Baha is an absolute must.  With views of the Burj Khalifa by night and Dubai’s famous fountain show spraying water over the lakes, this idyllic area is really romantic and beautiful to see.  All the restaurants in the area are decent, my usual’s hangouts would be The Mango Tree (Thai) or Karma Kafe (Japanesse), but all of the outlets are al a carte.  Remember to book in advance and request a table outside on the terrace with good views – that is if it’s not too hot.





After dinner you can go shopping in the Souk, haggle with the vendors and pick up some unique and ‘authentic’ local fashion and accessories.  There is a really nice abaya shop in the Souk where I get most of mine from for when I have to travel to Saudi.


SUN DOWNERS AT 101 THE ONE AND ONLY HOTEL, THE PALM




This is hands down my favourite bar/restaurant in Dubai and love heading there for sundowners on a Friday afternoon as the venue is just stunning plus it’s just around the corner from my home.  If you want to give your guests the wow factor, 101 wont fail to deliver offering spectacular views of Dubai’s shoreline.

The cocktails are fab- particularly the whisky ones if you are a lover of the blue label – and equally the mocktails are great.  I’ve only eaten their once, and I ordered the chicken and seafood paella to share which was really succulent, and nice and crispy at the bottom.  As the restaurant is on a boating docking bay, they run a water boat to take you back to their sister hotel The One and Only Royal Mirage on the main land.  You have to book the boat in advance but it is a really nice thing to do for a special occasion.  When it was my Dad’s birthday we started off with drinks at 101 and then got the water boat to the shore where we had dinner at Ozone.  Would definitely recommend this for special celebrations, we had a really amazing night.


HIGH TEA





My favourite High Tea in Dubai is at Jumeriah Zabeel Sarray Hotel on the Palm, for 120Dhs per tier, it is great value and the cakes and sandwiches are soo cute and dainty.  We ordered one high-tea per person which is way too much food, two people could easily share one and take home a doggy bag.  You can choose between a traditional English high tea which includes  sandwiches, scones and cakes, or alternatively you could opt for the Turkish High tea which still has scones but the sandwiches and cakes are more Arabic influenced.  The hotel is gorgeous so its nice to have a walk around the grounds and get some great gram time.

I found this the best in terms of views, atmosphere, cuisine and value, but there are plenty more great ones to try.  Up there is the Burj Al Arab (quite costly at 360dhs ahead), Atmosphere in the Burj Khalifa and The Ritz Carlton JBR.



VISIT THE GRAND MOSQUE ABU DHABI




Get a little bit cultural and journey forty minutes up the road to Abu Dhabi and visit the Grand Mosque.  It looks like a palace from Aladdin and I believe it is biggest Mosque in the world.  I didn't share too many pictures as my photos really do not do it justice as the architecture and interior is pretty amazing.

Women have to wear an abaya to enter the mosque which they will loan you on arrival, but I would recommend both men and women to dress conservatively (shoulders and knees covered).  You are also not allowed to wear shoes in the mosque so make sure your tootsies are pedicure-perfect before hand.  Entrance is free but I would go before midday to avoid the crowds.  If you can get someone to try you that would be ideal, otherwise a taxi will cost you about 150dhs one way.


AT THE TOP OF THE BURJ KHALIFA





You cannot come to Dubai and not go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.  It’s definitely something that everyone needs to tick off their bucket list, the views are as you would expect, amazing.  However, once you are up there and have looked at the panaromic views of Down Town, ya pretty much done.  Rather then spend money on a ticket to go to the viewing platform - I would opt for cocktails or afternoon tea in Atmosphere, the restaurant which is near the top.  This way you still get to see the great views of the Dubai and also enjoy a tipple at the same time.

If you do want to go to the viewing platform you are best booking your tickets online here otherwise you pay double the price on arrival.  You need to book this at least one month in advance to your visit  (it gets booked up quickly) and I think the best time slot is 5.30pm as you get to see the sun set over the city.



BEACHES

Black Palace Beach
JBR Beach

The UAE offers some really beautiful beaches and viewing points, especially if you travel out of Dubai and head towards the mountains of Fujairah and Dibba.  If you are staying locally, then here are the free-open beaches and clubs you can hit to get some tan time;

Location: JBR
Low Down: Simply stunning. Infinity pool, cafe del mar, cocktails, peaceful, luxury.
Entry: 500dhs

Beach: Black Palace
Location: Al Safouh Road
Low Down: beautiful views of The Palm, Palaces and Burj Al Arab, peaceful family beach.
Entry: free open beach

Location: Shoreline, The Palm Jumeirah
Low Down: motionless waters, picturesque, attracts all.
Entry: 150dhs day pass

Beach: JBR Beach
Location: Dubai Marina
Low Down: young buzzing, lots of food and drink outlets, impossible to park.
Entry: free open beach

Beach: Kite Beach
Location: Jumeirah Beach Road
Low Down: views of the Burj Al Arab, lots of water sports and beach activities, no where to get food or drink.
Entry: free open beach

Beach: Barasti
Location: Dubai Marina
Low Down: Young, happening beach, free sun beds if you are lucky enough to get one, a bit shabby.
Entry: free entry but you cannot take any F&B inside


JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL


For the best views of the famous Burj Al Arab, unless you have a yacht, head to 360 Bar in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.  This is a open-air bar come restaurant located off shore in the ocean with gorgeous views of Dubai's coast line and is the closes and best picture you can get of our iconic building.  It is great for sundowners on a Friday afternoon and attracts some of the worlds top DJs  (I'm not even going to pretend to know who these DJs are yet try to name some).  Since the venue is out at sea, it does get a little windy - I was only there last week (May in case you are reading this post way in the future) and it was 34degrees and still pretty windy.  I think it closes during the Summer too, as do most outdoor venues, so I would recommend visiting in May or October.


BREAKFAST


I love eggs, in fact I’m a little bit obsessed with those sunny favs of mine - so if you fancy an early or mid morning bite to eat, here are the places I enjoy going for breakfast.

Jones The Grocer – Eggs Benedict
Tom & Serj – Scrambled Egg with Goats Cheese
Barasti – Eggs Florentine
Bateel - Eggs Royale

Bare in mind that none of the above serve pork, so if you are partial to some piggy you will have to eat in a hotel if you are not happy with a chicken or beef substitute.


And there it is, my mini round up on Dubs.  Would be great to hear if you have been to any of the places mentioned above, or what the top places that you would recommend would be?