With its well-established expat community and growing popularity among British holidaymakers, Dubai is a real jet-setter hub. Dubai fans already know its best attributes – from the beaches and malls to the brunches and theme parks – but there are plenty of new charms to uncover in this ever-changing destination, if you know where to look. Enter our very own Dubai guru, Sital. During her most recent visit to the city, the former Travel Weekly ‘Mystery Shopper’ winner subjected four hotels to her customarily rigorous (read: no punches pulled – Ed.) inspection standards. Let’s see how they performed…

Atlantis, the Palm

From the dizzy heights of the club rooms down to the aquarium, Sital’s Atlantis, The Palm review goes deep.  

Location: Located proudly at the crest of the famous Palm Jumeirah Island. The building and surrounding grounds are huge.

Rooms: Over 1,500 rooms.

Best for: Everyone, but especially families.

Transfer time: Depending on traffic / time of day, a pretty breezy 45 minutes by car from the airport.

Recommended room upgrade: Upgrade to an Imperial Club Room so you get club lounge access which includes lots of extra benefits and is really great value for money. Another great reason for upgrading to the Imperial Club Room is, you get daily complimentary access to the kids club (ages 3 – 12 years old).

Extra facilities: Free wifi, gym, shops and lots, lots more. 

What’s new: The exciting new Wave House which is very cool – a four lane bowling alley, a super fun wave machine and over 50 arcade games, as well as live music on selective days.

Key selling points: 23 restaurants including Nobu, Ronda Locatelli and Hakassan; Unlimited complimentary access to the largest waterpark in the region – Aquaventure Waterpark, and access to the Lost Chambers Aquarium; Amazing private beach.

“I really liked Atlantis. It’s super fun and there is so much to do for all ages. Aquaventure is excellent and a real MUST. The hotel offers a great selection of restaurants so there’s something for everyone, and the quality of the food is very good. It can get busy but, at the same time, it has a great atmosphere so it’s worth it.”

VERDICT: 9/10

‘Dream, travel, repeat’

Vida Downtown

Was Sital overflowing with praise for this fountain-side downtown hotel in Dubai?

Resort style: Chic trendy hotel located in the city centre.

Best for: Mainly adults looking for a city stop over.

Transfer time: 20 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic.

Extra facilities: Free wifi, gym with fitness classes, free shuttle bus.

Restaurants/bars: Four restaurants – we dined at Stage2 which was really nice.

Key selling points: Walking distance to Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains. Great pool with beautiful cabanas at no extra cost.

“I really liked this hotel. A smart, slick, boutique-style property – perfect for a quick stop over.”

VERDICT: 9/10

The beautiful cabanas at Vida Downtown

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Would our roving reporter take a shine to the hotel with more gold leaf than Burj Al Arab?

Location and style: Located on the Palm Jumeirah Island. Inspired by the imperial palaces of the Ottoman era – a luxury, regal hotel.

Rooms: The resort is made up of 379 guest rooms, with 26 suites.

Best for: All holidaymakers – especially families.

Transfer time: 45 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic.

Key selling points: One of the biggest hotel spas in the world – 42 treatment rooms; free to use spa facilities (only pay for treatments); Complimentary and unlimited access to Wild Wadi waterpark; 50 dine-around restaurants included in the Half Board package throughout Dubai and other Jumeirah properties.

Interconnecting rooms: Guaranteed upon booking.

Kids club: Sinbad’s Kid’s Club. The club offers interactive gaming stations, soft play areas, rock climbing, a home cinema, cooking classes and more that cater to all ages.

Extra facilities: 29-seat cinema with luxurious sofas; Beach volleyball and beach tennis; Complimentary shuttle service to and from Wild Wadi Waterpark; Private beach setting; eight restaurants and two bar/lounges in resort; two indoor pools and two outdoor pools; Health club; Beach towels; Airport shuttle; 24-hour front desk; Free internet and free parking.

“I loved Jumeriah Zabeel Saray. The whole setting is stunning and I think, for families, it’s the perfect choice. It’s such great value for money and at the same time you get luxury – win win!”

VERDICT: 9/10

Rixos Premium

Sital found the location of this urban oasis to be perfect, but were the hotel’s other features in place too?

Location and style: Stylish urban hot spot located in the heart of Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence. Trendy meets contemporary luxury.

Rooms: 414 rooms and suites.

Best for: All travellers, but I would say young adults would especially love this hotel.

Transfer time: 35 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic.

Key selling points: Beachfront; brilliant location right on the JBR Walk; Great pool with an awesome atmosphere.

Extra facilities: Free wifi, gym, spa, beach club access.

Restaurants/bars: Nine restaurants and bars.

“I loved this urban trendy hotel, and it smelled amazing too! The rooms afford stunning panoramic views over the beach and the world’s largest Ferris wheel, Ain Dubai. The breakfast was delicious and offered lots of choice. They have a new beach club, Azure, which hosts events so again, the hotel brings a great atmosphere. For me location is very important, so it ticked a lot of boxes – walking out onto the JBR walk was perfect and always had a great buzz.”

VERDICT: 9/10

About The Author

Since leaving a role in local broadcasting, Tom spent six seasons working on cruise ships before turning his experiences into a popular travel blog and pod cast. But it wasn’t long before wanderlust came calling again, and after travelling extensively throughout Asia and the Americas, the time has come for this roving writer to tell the tales of his adventures once more.

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