Dubai residents and locals recommends their favorite places to stay while visiting the city.
From peaceful shoreline stays to urban glitz, Dubai has something for every taste. But in a big diverse city like this, where do you even start? We will recommend some of the best available hotels in every district but we will focus mostly on suggesting you in which area to stay.
Some of you will prefer the more authentic side of Dubai (Bur Dubai and Deira), some the buzzing vibrant city life (Downtown, Dubai Marina), some others the beaches (Jumeirah, The Palm, Dubai Marina).
Here is our list of recommendations on where to stay in Dubai.
Dubai Marina is most famous for its Jumeirah Beach Road ( JBR ), sometimes also referred to as The Beach. At JBR you will find many premium hotels with and without beach access. You can stay at the beach for free or rent a lounger with towel and shower tokens at Sea Breeze.
If you are into some beach fun, you can try an inflatable waterpark experience with your kids or friends. www.aquafun.ae
Between the swims you can enjoy the food at one of the restaurants by the sea, anything ranging from international breakfast spots to middle eastern restaurants and pizzerias.
Here you will also find Bla Bla bar where you can enjoy a drink with seaview and Ain Dubai.
After the beach you can admire the night view of skyscrapers at Dubai Marina Walk and grab a drink at one of the bars at Pier 7 or shop in Dubai Marina Mall.
An alternative would be to walk towards the Bluewaters and enjoy a ride in Ain Dubai - The World’s Highest Observation Wheel at sunset. For tickets: www.aindubai.com
It is also possible to rent an electric bicycle in JBR and have a nice ride around Dubai Marina. The rental can be done via Careem BIKE app.
Dubai Marina is also famous for yacht rentals of all sizes. It is common among friends and couples to rent a yacht which usually takes you to see the Palm, Burj Al Arab and JBR from the sea.
Jumeirah area is very popular among locals and expats living in Dubai, especially for those who love the beach. Jumeirah it’s an area almost 30 kilometers long from Bur Dubai to Dubai Marina, famous for having the most beautiful beaches in Dubai. It is split by Dubai Creek into two parts: Umm Suqeim 1-3 and Jumeirah 1.
Umm Suqeim 1- 3
Umm Suqeim 1 starts at Burj Al Arab, which is famous for its Sunset Beach ( previously Open Beach ), and stretches all the way until Umm Suqeim 3. This is also a starting point for bicycle and jogging tracks.
We highly recommend to rent a Careem BIKE from the station by the Sunset Beach and have a lovely ride across all Jumeirah shoreline. It usually takes about 20 minutes to reach Umm Suqeim 3 and you will be able to see all the most beautiful beaches in Dubai.
We also highly recommend to dock your bike near Kite Beach bike station and enjoy Sole Mio beach club until sunset. A beach ticket includes a lounger, an umbrella and a towel. Alternatively you can book a comfortable cabana with friends or family. For all bookings : www.solemio.ae
But even if you don’t rent a bike, Kite Beach Dubai is a must visit. It has the best seaside, cafes, showers, volleyball courts and many activities for kids.
If you are in the mood for a more wild beach going, we recommend Ness Nass Beach, which is loved by Dubai residents, especially the kite surfing community. You can rent a kite or a Stand Up Paddle at Kite n Surf to experience this beach to the fullest.
There is a public washroom and a Careem BIKE station there, as well as a Circle Cafe.
Jumeirah has many affordable hotels walking distance from the beach and it is perhaps our favorite area in Dubai. The sea is clear, the sand is soft and pleasant, Jumeirah Road has many nice cafes to enjoy and you can always cycle, skate or jog there.
The most notable place in Jumeirah 1 is La Mer. La Mer is perfect for a full day at the beach and a lovely dinner after with family, friends or your loved one for a romantic night. You can stay at the beach for free or rent a super comfortable double bed or lounger at Sea Level Beach Club. The kids can also enjoy Laguna Waterpark while you have a freshly squeezed juice on the beach. La Mer has changing rooms, showers, toilets, games for kids, beach kiosks, bars and restaurants.
The best hotel to stay is Rove Hotel, La Mer.
Outside of La Mer, you can opt for a more luxury hotel experience and stay at Four Seasons Resort or Mandarin Oriental with private beach access.
Jumeirah 1 offers amazing healthy cafe experiences like Seva ( delicious vegan cafe ), Comptoir 102 and Kulture House. You can always shop or watch a movie at a very cozy Mercato Mall, the favorite of many Dubai locals.
Downtown Dubai is perfect to get the urban feel of Dubai while admiring the tallest building in the world - Burj Khalifa. It is very famous among Dubai residents and it is perfect for shopping since one of the biggest malls in the world - the Dubai Mall, is located here. If you are staying in Downtown, it means that you can get almost anywhere in Dubai within 20 minutes by car.
During the day you can shop, ice skate or watch a movie in the Dubai Mall and at night you can walk along the Boulevard and pick a nice restaurant for dinner. We recommend Leila for a good Lebanese dinner with shisha ( hookah ) or Shakespeare and Co at Souk Al Bahar. You can also rent a Careem BIKE or a scooter to ride all around the area.
Dubai Opera is also an experience worth trying. Modern elegant architecture combined with good performance will make your evening unforgettable. For tickets : www.dubaiopera.com
Watching a Dubai Fountain show is another must try. Our favorite place to do so is at Burj Park, opposite to Dubai Mall, on top of a beautifully crafted green platform.
After a good dinner and a fountain show you can also have a walk inside Foundry art gallery to spot the works of Middle Eastern artists.
When in Downtown, you can choose between staying at Vida Hotel, Ramada Hotel, Rove Downtown or for a more luxury experience - The Palace Hotel or Address Downtown.
Satwa has become a hipster area of Dubai over time. It has many small cafeterias, cheap shops, hotels and groceries.
The best part about Satwa is affordable prices and its location, you can walk towards Jumeirah or get on a metro to anywhere else.
It is different from the usual glitz and glamour touristic places.
Satwa is the place where you can find small Indian textile and tailor shops and anything from car tires to furniture.
The graffitis by local artists in the recent years have added a special charm to the area.
Satwa is a kaleidoscope of things and is one of the oldest areas in Dubai.
Al Fahidi and Al Seef
Al Fahidi is a historic neighborhood of Dubai, which is home to Al Fahidi Fort and a Dubai Museum. It shows the old charming Dubai before it has become a megapolis.
To complete your walk around this area we recommend having a traditional Arabic meal at Arabian Tea House and a karaoke chai ( tea ).
Al Seef is just a short walk away from Al Fahidi and even though it is a new area in Dubai, it is still very beautiful to walk around the little streets and see the architecture inspired by the traditional mud brick Arabic houses.
After you are done exploring Al Seef, you can take a small boat (abra) to cross on the other side of the Creek and reach Deira.
Deira is a historic centre of Dubai and one of the first areas in the city, built before Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and most places we know now.
Take a stroll down Deira Gold Souk and Deira Spice Souk to feel the atmosphere of Dubai’s past and appreciate the evolution this city has gone through.
Deira is extremely well connected and has many metro stations, bus stops and boat rides to get you around the city.
It has many groceries, cheap stores, malls and cafes and plenty of very affordable hotels to stay in.
If you are staying in Deira, it is worth taking a 20 minutes taxi ride to Al Mamzar Beach and Al Mamzar Park for a nice day by the sea.
If you are looking for some good affordable shopping, you can check out Al Ghurair Centre and Deira City Centre malls.
Dubai Al Barsha
Dubai Al Barsha is a commercial area of Dubai with many Dubai offices.
However it has a good location if you are looking to save up some money. There are many affordable hotels there and the trains from Mashreq Metro Station and Mall of the Emirates Metro Stations can take you to Dubai Marina in just 20 minutes.
Mall of the Emirates, another famous mall in Dubai, is just in the neighborhood. This mall hosts a very unique indoor ski venue - Ski Dubai, where you can sledge, ski or snowboard in the snow while it is hot outside. This venue is definitely one of a kind.
You can also find some outlet stores in this area and affordable restaurants as well as shops.
You can choose to stay at Ibis Hotel, Novotel, Courtyard by Marriott or opt for a more premium option and stay at Kempinski Hotel.
The Palm is giant man-made island shaped like a palm. It is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai (including the iconic Atlantis) and upscale restaurants and beach clubs. Lots of people call it the Miami of the Middle East because of its party vibe. It’s perfect for a day or a night visit. The Palm is perfect for a day or a night visit.
In the day you can visit our favorite waterpark - Aquaventure, which is part of Atlantis Hotel. At night you can walk along Palm West Beach and have a drink at a lovely beach bar Koko Bay or Ula Dubai.
The Palm also has beaches and a lot of hotels as well as residential buildings. However the quality of the water and the sand can be improved.
If you are looking for crystal clear open sea experience, our preference stays with Kite Beach or Ness Nass beach in Jumeirah.
The Palm is also famous for its party hotel - FIVE, the Palm. If you are looking for a pool party and a good dinner with drink after, it is the place for you. The city views are also quite beautiful from there.
You can also take a taxi to Nakheel Mall for a small but convenient shopping experience.
Dubai International Financial Centre ( DIFC)
Your Dubai visit will not be complete without a proper Dubai night out in the Dubai International Financial Center. A sophisticated well presented cocktail in a funky elegant bar with skyscrapers over your head is something definitely worth experiencing. DIFC is the place to do so.
There are so many upscale bars and restaurants to choose from, just take a taxi and have a walk around. Our favorites are Clap ( Japanese bar and restaurant with a hidden club inside ), Amazonico ( Latin American cuisine with a good rooftop bar ), Gaia Dubai ( Italian restaurant ) and Zuma ( Japanese restaurant and bar ).
If you are in the mood, you can also have a look at various art galleries at DIFC Gate Village before your drinks.
And if you are lucky enough, you can also witness Dubai Art Nights which happen once a year sometime in spring. You can always check their website for updates www.difc.ae.
Rove Hotel Downtown is a good option if you want to stay walking distance to DIFC and Downtown.
Hope you enjoyed this read, wishing you the greatest vacation in Dubai!