Guide to Dubai

By Julia Wheeler

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.

The original and still the most innovative of the Persian Gulf destinations, vibrant Dubai has an energetic drive that’s tough to beat. There’s always somewhere new to try, something special to experience – nothing stands still for long, and visitors reap the advantages of the residents’ expectations when it comes to dining and entertainment.

The city is bigger than you might imagine, so choose your hotel area well, since the traffic can slow you down. The Palm is some distance from the Old Town and the Creek, while Downtown Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the tallest tower in the world) and dancing fountains are more than a stride from Dubai Marina.

Brunch is a must-do if you’re in town on a Friday (the Gulf’s big day off). The best tables, magnificent with sumptuous buffets and champagne, bask in a “we’ve got all day” atmosphere. Don’t bother booking dinner for Friday evening. Dubai offers Michelin-starred chefs, renowned hotel designers and a multinational feel open to trying anything that can boast the sprinkle of glitz.


Royal Bridge Suite, Atlantis, The Palm

Atlantis, The Palm

At the crest of the Palm Jumeirah crescent, this suite spans the space between the towers of the fairy-tale resort, on the 22nd floor. Generous balconies run either side of the suite, offering expansive views both seaward and across the city, while inside, light floods in among palm tree-shaped pillars and sparkling chandeliers. There’s a games room, media center, library and a gold-leaf dining table that seats 16. Royalty and celebrities (including Kim Kardashian) are your predecessors here, and the mantra of the private butler, chef and their team is “Your every desire fulfilled.”

From $27,000 per night. Serge Zaalof, president and general manager,, +971 4 426 2000,

Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab

A flagship for the Jumeirah Group, this sail-shaped hotel sits gracefully on its own island. Inside the two-bedroom, two-story suite, all is peaceful except the decor – think leopard print, tented silk ceilings and clashes so bad they’re fab. There is a four-poster bath, a rotating bed fit for a king, a movie theater, library and Arabic majlis seating area. Your 24-hour butler will drop by with your 24K gold iPad.

From $22,888 per night. Scott Murray, general manager,, dedicated suite reservations number +971 4 301 7400,

Dubai Floor, Raffles Dubai

This was the private accommodation of a Dubai sheikh before it was transformed into six palatial suites and rooms across the entire floor of the pyramid-shaped hotel. The panoramic views from the large terrace reach as far as the Burj Khalifa. It is modern and flexible, with plenty of Arabic touches, including a majlis lounge and wooden mashrabiya screens. There’s a nine-seat movie theater, plus a private butler, chef and dedicated chauffeur.

From $12,250 per night. Ayman Gharib, general manager,, +971 4 324 8888,