Dubai is a city of sophistication and luxury, from the towering skyscrapers which include Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, to the countless shopping malls full of designer fashion. If you’re looking for the epitome of luxury, this is the place to discover it!
For those who enjoy the good life, there are many glamourous bars, indulgent spas and hotels that will deliver the royal treatment to their valued guests. Dubai has been dubbed a Disneyland for adults, where you can fulfil all your luxury desires.
Dubai was once famed for its jewellery and gold and had a pearl industry which boosted its global fame during the 1900s, unfortunately, due to the popularity of cultured pearls the industry waned. However, oil was then discovered in Dubai which drove huge development.
Today, Dubai is a thriving city and has attracted the jet set crowd who flaunt themselves at the trendy bars, on their sleek yachts and visitors come to enjoy the sand dunes, gorgeous beaches within easy reach of the skyscrapers that make up the city’s skyline.
In this luxury travel guide to Dubai we will show you how to experience the high life in one of the world’s most glamourous cities.
This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to Dubai on a luxury. We will show you what to do in Dubai, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in Dubai or a long term stay.
Plan your trip?
Avoid hidden fees in the exchange rate while withdrawing from millions of ATMs abroad, paying in restaurants and shops, and buying your accommodation and flights using the Wise Card. You can hold up to 40+ currencies at once to spend in in over 150 countries, and convert them in real time with the free Wise app.
Need help planning your trip from start to finish? Check out these helpful links:
- Cheap flights
- Savings on accommodation from hostels to luxury hotels
- Affordable car rental options
- Affordable sightseeing tours and day trips
- Travel Adapter – All in one so you don’t have to carry a bunch around
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
The best time to visit Dubai
If you’re planning a trip to Dubai, aim for the Winter months, between November and April. The winters here are mild and you can avoid the relentless heat and humidity of summer where temperatures soar to 40 degrees centigrade! In the summer, it’s impossible to go outside without melting.
Everywhere in Dubai is blasted with air conditioning and it’s worth bringing layers and even a coat to the airport or any shopping malls to avoid the stark contrast between freezing air conditioning and the temperatures outside.
The months to avoid visiting are during January and February, tourists flock to the city for the annual Dubai Shopping Festival and you will need to battle throngs of tourists and hotel rates skyrocket during this period.
How to get around Dubai
Dubai is best navigated by car. If you want to rent a car you will need to provide your international driver’s license, credit card details and passport to rent a car.
If you want to rent a luxury car you can hire a flashy Bugatti or a Bentley with Apex Luxury Car Hire or a Rolls Royce with Prestige Car Hire, join the local socialites cruising around the city in style.
What to expect in Dubai
Dubai is situated in the Arabian Gulf and the local language spoken is Arabic. In general due to the tourism boom a lot of people speak English and there are many other languages spoken due to the fact that many expatriates have moved there to work in the past decades.
The currency used is the UAE Dirham, money can be taken out easily at ATMs and also most places will accept credit and debit cards. Tipping is customary and it’s common to leave a tip of around 10 – 15% in restaurants. Tipping in spas depends on the total cost of the treatment.
There are some important things to be aware of in Dubai. Firstly, public displays of affection will attract problems even on the beach, at the back of taxis or in a nightclub. There are many tales of couples being arrested for sex in public places and even kissing your partner can cause issues.
Secondly, it’s important to dress modestly, as Dubai is a Muslim country, especially in public areas like shopping malls, public transportation, the airport etc where you should always make sure your legs and shoulders are covered.
Hotels are considered “international areas” where you can wear standard holiday clothes such as short dresses, shorts, bikinis and strappy tops.
Alcohol is not served in many restaurants in Dubai as it is a Muslim country. However, you can find alcohol at hotel restaurants and bars which are classed as “international areas” and are exempt from the strict regulations that apply to locals.
Finally, the weekend in Dubai is on Friday and Saturday. Therefore, you’ll find most people head out to party on Thursdays and Fridays and the malls will be buzzing with crowds until midnight during their weekends.
Luxury things to do in Dubai
Hire a private yacht
What better way to explore Dubai than from the sea, where you can admire views of the spectacular waterfront hotels such as Atlantis The Palm, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and The Palm Jumeirah from the comfort of your luxury yacht.
Check out Asfar Yacht rentals for various luxury options that will give you exclusive views of Dubai from another angle.
You can even charter a yacht to take you to Dubai’s best scuba diving spots, or get your diving certification and explore the diverse underwater world of the Arabian Gulf.
A day at the races
Dubai World Cup is one of the most exclusive events in the annual calendar and here is where you’ll see horses racing on the Meydan track which fills up with almost 60,000 spectators!
The races are the best place to see and be seen, you’ll see Armani and designer clad socialites with their pearl and diamond necklaces flocking to attend one of the trendiest events of the year, held annually in March.
If you’re keen on horseracing, you can even rent a room at the five-star Meydan Hotel which is situated just by the Meydan racecourse.
Head out on a desert adventure
The desert offers plentiful opportunities for adventure travellers, you can drive on the imposing sand dunes in a 4X4, sleep under the stars in a Bedouin camp, ride camels and discover the wildlife thriving in the Arabian desert on a unique safari.
The best company to explore the desert is Platinum Heritage offering five-star experiences that will fulfil your thirst for adventure.
Visit the Gold Souq
If you want to be blinded and bedazzled by gold, head to the Deira’s Gold Souq with your sunglasses, the Souq is also known as “The City of Gold” and you will be stunned by the glittering windows of the 300 shops offering every kind of jewellery in high-quality gold.
This is the place to barter buy your jewellery and makes for an unforgettable experience!
Take to the skies in a hot air balloon
What better way to take in the majestic landscape of sand dunes than with a hot air balloon tour.
Enjoy a tour of the skies with Balloon Adventures Dubai as the sunrise tinges the dunes with its golden hue, followed by a luxurious breakfast of champagne, eggs benedict, caviar and smoked salmon.
This experience is an epitome of luxury and will leave you with an unforgettable memory.
For the adrenaline junkies out there, Skydive Dubai offers a tandem skydive over the azure sea and stunning skyline of the city with a highly-experienced instructor.
See the city from a completely new perspective with this heart-thumping experience.
Dubai has some prime golf courses nestled amongst its sand dunes. If you are a keen golfer then don’t forget to pack your clubs.
One of the best driving ranges places to go to is the Emirates Golf Club, where clubs are also available for hire if you didn’t bring your own.
Shop till you drop
Dubai is a shopper’s paradise and where better to go to satisfy your shopping urges than the biggest malls in the city: Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates! Dubai Mall is so popular that annually it draws more visitors than New York City itself!
Dubai Mall is one of the biggest and you’ll find a mecca to luxury, brands such as Bloomingdales and Galerie Lafayette sit alongside rows and rows of designer shops. If you want to explore local fashion and trends, check out S*uce, where you’ll find unique pieces from local and up-and-coming fashion labels at the Dubai Mall.
The Mall of Emirates is huge and even has its own ski piste and penguins in Ski Dubai, if you want to escape the sweltering heat.
Soak in a spa
Enjoy an amazing spa experience in one of the most luxurious spas in Dubai, the Talise Ottoman Spa situated within the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel.
The array of rooms and treatments is staggering, with saunas and steam rooms, hydrotherapy rooms, snow rooms and thalassotherapy pools where you can soak away the day and relax in complete bliss.
Take in the sunset from a rooftop
For a spectacular way to end the day, sipping a drink to the hues of the Arabian sunset, head to Neos bar in Address Hotel, the bar is situated on the 63rd floor of the hotel and offers staggering views over the Burj Khalifa and a romantic, glamourous setting.
Where to stay in Dubai – Luxury Hotels
Dubai has so many amazing luxury hotels, we couldn’t include them all! Here are some of the very best:
Raffles Hotel Dubai – This classic hotel is one of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, shaped like a pyramid, this unique and luxurious hotel oozes Middle Eastern and Asian style in its décor and is only 10 minutes from the Airport as well as being within walking distance of the shopping centres and cultural attractions.
Rooms have fantastic views over the city and has an abundance of activities on-site including a nightclub, spa, swimming pool, jacuzzi and seven bars and restaurants.
Park Hyatt Hotel Dubai – This gorgeous hotel is situated by Dubai Creek and has its own golfing green and yacht club.
There are fantastic views of the marina from each of the rooms and the hotel has fantastic facilities which include fine-dining award-winning restaurants which serve up Western, Asian and European cuisines.
The hotel also offers many adventurous activities including their very own aerial seaplane offering flights over the Arabian Sea, water sports, sailing and a championship golf course.
Atlantis the Palm Dubai – This hotel is situated on Palm Island, the biggest man-made island in the whole world, which can be seen from space!
This spectacular hotel is luxurious and has more than 1,500 rooms, there are even underwater suites where you can watch the colourful marine life swim leisurely pass your bedroom window, there are over 65,000 fish and marine animals included in their very own Aquapark.
The hotel is also ideal for families as it has its own Aquaventure Waterpark where you can go on rides and visit the on-site aquarium.
Armani Hotel Dubai – This hotel can be found within the world’s tallest tower in Burj Khalifa and is an example of sumptuous elegance which was designed by the famous designer Giorgio Armani.
The walls are covered with Japanese tatami floors, handmade soft leather imported from Florence and bathrooms fashioned from stones flown in from Spain.
These international touches bring a touch of glamour to each and every room. The hotel has excellent restaurants that offer Italian, Japanese and Indian cuisine and a stunning swimming pool.
Bulgari Resort Dubai – This tranquil and exclusive hotel is located in Jumeira Bay, the man-made island shaped like a seahorse just off the coast of Dubai.
The hotel was designed by a famous Italian architectural company, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and the hotel consists of 20 villas with sea views or pool views.
The hotel is host to many fine-dining restaurants, spa and hammam and its own private beach and beach club and swimming pool. There is also a yacht club and private marina where you can stroll along and admire the yachts moored on the berths.
Al Maha, Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Tucked away in a desert conservation reserve is the most expensive luxury resort and spa in Dubai, offering seclusion in its palm grove surroundings.
The hotel incorporates its Bedouin style in its rooms and architecture, you can sleep in rooms that resemble a Bedouin tent and each suite has its very own private pool and views of the desert where you can observe the wildlife from your room, you may be able to observe the grace of the Arabian Oryx and Gazelles to the backdrop of the dramatic sand dunes.
The hotel offers activities in the desert such as desert safaris, archery classes, camel rides and nature walks.
Luxury eats in Dubai
Indulge in brunch
Enjoy a luxurious and lazy brunch on Friday like the expats do and head to the Park Hyatt Traiteur restaurant to enjoy a mouth-watering brunch buffet including lobster, seafood and a selection of cheeses.
The restaurant is situated on the marina and you can hear feel the cool Mediterranean breeze, hear the sound of the waves, the tinkle of boats and yachts bobbing on the waterfront whilst tucking into one of the best brunches in the city.
For a genteel high-tea experience, head to the top floor of the Skyview Bar in Jumeira, where you can enjoy views of The Palm Jumeira and tuck into their freshly baked flaky pastries, delicious cakes and tarts with Cornish cream and finger sandwiches.
Scale the heights at At.Mosphere Restaurant
From the dizzying heights of the 122nd floor of the tallest building in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, which is sure to get your heart racing.
The restaurant serves fine-dining with exotic fusion of ingredients and you can enjoy delicacies such as caviar, oysters and lobsters.
Eat gold-covered ice cream at Scoopi Café
Scoopi Café is one of the most indulgent, decadent and opulent ice-cream parlours in Dubai where you can enjoy Madagascar vanilla ice-cream decadently topped with shavings of 24-carat gold and is the most expensive dessert in the United Arab Emirates, costing AED 2,999!
There is also the Black Diamond Sundae consisting of indulgent Madagascar Vanilla ice cream, saffron from Iran, Italian truffles and shavings of 24-carat gold served up in a bowl designed by Versace.
The extravagant entrepreneur Flavio Briatore created this nightclub, lounge and restaurant in the Taj Hotel as part of his Billionaire Life Group enterprise and is a trendy spot for the jet-set crowd of Dubai.
The restaurants offer Japanese and Italian cuisine and there are live shows during dinnertime with acrobatic and dance spectacles. You can enjoy the highest class of Wagy beef and even savour some Beluga caviar.
Roberto Cavalli, the Italian designer created the Cavalli Club, an extravagant and visually arresting club with sparkling chandeliers and indoor waterfalls over three different floors. You can find sumptuous Italian dishes served up on plates designed with Roberto Cavalli.
Make sure to try the New York steak made of Wagyu grade 9 beef, which melts in your mouth, there is also gourmet seafood featured in their pasta dishes and their tartars.
Luxury tours to do in Dubai
Private VIP guided tour of Dubai
If you’re short on time and you want to take in the attractions of the city in one day, head out on this private tour where your private guide will personalise your visit to your requirements and desires. You can visit the historic Gold Souq or Spice Market and visit some of the iconic landmarks of Dubai.
Luxury yacht tour of Dubai’s Waterfront
Cruise along Dubai’s waterfront to take in the impressive skyline from the comfort of a 50 foot yacht. From here you can see the famous buildings of Dubai from another perspective, you can even try your hand at fishing or just enjoy swimming and snorkelling with your own private charter.
Explore the desert on a dune buggy
Set out on a dune buggy across the Arabian sand dunes, touring the Red dunes and enjoying a short camel ride as well as the opportunity to go sandboarding whilst in the desert. This thrilling tour will also take you to the tallest majestic sand dune to take in the amazing panoramic views, providing amazing Instagram-worthy photograph opportunities.
Helicopter ride over Dubai
You can view the spectacular skyline of Dubai from the heights of a helicopter where you can see the shapes of the man-made islands of Palm Jumeirah as well as other man-made archipelagos, seeing local landmarks from the breathtaking heights of a helicopter will be an unforgettable experience for your stay in Dubai.
Explore the Hajar Mountains of Dubai
This tour will take you away from the city into nature, explore the village of Hatta nestled in the Hajar Mountains and explore off-road in a all-terrain vehicle. You can discover the nature of the Hajar Mountains and dine at the Hatta Fort hotel before returning to your hotel.
Recommended luxury tours in Dubai
- Red Dune Safari with Sandboarding, Camel Ride & BBQ Options
- Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque Half-Day Tour from Dubai
- Dubai 30-Mins Quad Bike Ride,Desert Safari,Camel Ride,Sand Boarding & BBQ Dinner
- Private Boat Tour Dubai Marina
- Royal Luxury Desert Safari
- Hatta Mountain Safari With Lunch & Red Dune Desert Safari Full Day Tour
- Skydive Desert with Burj Khalifa Observation Deck with 2 Way Transfer
- Private Photo Tour in Old Dubai with Well Known Local Photographer.
- Enjoy a Private Luxury Yacht Cruise from the Dubai Marina
- Burj Al Arab Lunch Arabic Buffet At Al-Iwan Restaurant With Private Transfer
- Hot Air Ballooning in Dubai with Transfers
- Fly in The Sky ( Helicopter Ride )
- Dubai Frame with the Afternoon Tea at Burj Al Arab