Dubai, the golden city: how are the most starred hotels in the world

Much of the city of Dubai has been built up over the past 50 years, so everything has that shiny new feel (Getty Images)

Dubai is fantastic. For what it inspires and for the way it was designed. Out of nowhere, in the desert, a couple of millionaires have rubbed their lamps and made the sand the gold that glistens every day of sunshine. Most of the city was built less than 50 years ago. Everything in Dubai is overkill. In fact, the term is shortened.

How do we qualify then? the excess and exuberance of a place where the stars in the sky are not enough to qualify the hotels? To do this, we present ourselves to the most selected to go through them from the inside.

arabian gold

With five pools and more than a sprawling sandy coastline, the Persian Gulf resort town of Madinat Jumeirah caters to beachgoers (photo courtesy Madinat Jumeirah)
With five pools and more than a sprawling sandy coastline, the Persian Gulf resort town of Madinat Jumeirah caters to beachgoers (photo courtesy Madinat Jumeirah)

Madinat Jumeirah is a group of four complexes, collectively housing more than 30 restaurants, bars and shops. The local souk (Arab market) has 80 other places to eat, drink and shop, as well as a theatre.

After having made the 30 minutes drive from the airport, it is quite possible to spend your holidays here without leaving the resort, but there are free buses with amenities available at Mall of the Emirates and sister resort Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Palm Jumeriahworth visiting in good weather to take a walk on the man-made island’s seven-mile boardwalk.

With five pools and more than a huge sandy shoreline, this modern Arabian Gulf resort caters to beach lovers and offers access to all the facilities of the Madinat Jumeirah complex, including a spa, gym, tennis courts, water park and waterways serviced by abra water taxis.

The hotel offers a new interpretation of the Arabic style in a luxurious cream and gold color palette. Pale curtains cascade from the lobby ceiling, billowing in the breeze from colonial-style wooden fans. Plush sofas, armchairs, and arches divide the space, and giant potted palms bloom in the corners. Facing the main entrance, the glass walls offer a perfect view of burj al araband the low-rise resort unfolds below, dotted with blue pools, turquoise umbrellas, and Bill Bensley gardens.

sophistication

The Four Seasons Resort Dubai is the closest beachfront hotel to the city center (photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Dubai)
The Four Seasons Resort Dubai is the closest beachfront hotel to the city center (photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Dubai)

An elegant beachfront property with views of the calm waters of the Arabian Gulf on one side and the glistening skyline of Dubai on the other, is home to two pools (one adults-only) and 11 other tantalizing restaurants and lounges. It’s the inspiration for Four Seasons Resort Dubai.

In the mainly residential area Jumeirah 2, it is the closest beachfront hotel to downtown dubaiideal for those who want to actively shop at the Dubai Mall’s 1,200 stores or catch a performance at the Opera. The airport is only twenty minutes away by car.

If first impressions are everything, then the bright lobby, filled with fresh-cut flowers in Murano glass vases and a giant two-story bay window that frames views over the manicured gardens to the ocean, certainly leaves a lasting impression.

Comfortable and tasteful property blends classic Four Seasons style with opulent Middle Eastern touches like the gold-leaf ceilings, shimmering mosaics and marble floors.

living sculpture

The Taj Dubai has more than 3,000 sculptures and works of art that adorn the rooms, restaurants and public spaces of the shimmering skyscraper (Getty images)
The Taj Dubai has more than 3,000 sculptures and works of art that adorn the rooms, restaurants and public spaces of the shimmering skyscraper (Getty images)

Bastion of modern luxury strongly rooted in local heritage: taj dubai comfortably carries both principles. An antidote to the region’s obsession with beige, the hotel is a carnival of color and its many restaurants are full of character and happy guests. Yes, it’s in the business district, but here, clearly, it’s all about pleasure.

Business Bay may seem a little bland. Even the name suggests empty during the weekend. However, this central location borders the city center, home to the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Fountain, and the Burj Khalifa (visible from the Taj Dubai). Most other attractions and services are within a 20-minute driveincluding Dubai International Airport, Kite Beach, budget Satwa food centers and the expensive Dubai International Financial Centre.

More than 3,000 Indian sculptures and artwork adorn the rooms, restaurants and public spaces of this sparkling skyscraper. Cheerfully illustrated maharajas peer out from their gilded frames, and ornate animals parade across polished sideboards. In the lobby, an antique burqa and camel bell stand among Arabic artifacts in glass display cases, and a shimmering tornado of flying glass birds forms an impressive chandelier. Newcomers marvel as staff present them with wooden prayer beads and non-alcoholic rosewater cocktails in the traditional welcoming ceremony.

calm and pristine

Just half an hour's drive from the airport, the Royal Marina Meridien Hotel sits on a large private sandy beach at the northern end of Dubai's tourist hub (photo courtesy of Royal Marina Meridien)
Just half an hour’s drive from the airport, the Royal Marina Meridien Hotel sits on a large private sandy beach at the northern end of Dubai’s tourist hub (photo courtesy of Royal Marina Meridien)

There are few better places for a sunny beach holiday in Dubai than Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa crowd pleaser. With over 10 different places to eat and drink, three swimming pools, a fitness center, spa, salon, hair salon, tennis courts and kids’ clubs, there’s no need to leave this luxury resort and many reasons to return.

Just half an hour’s drive from the airport, located on a large private sandy beach at the northern end of the resort town of Dubai Marinathe complex enjoys a privileged location for a holiday of sun and sea. Nearby attractions include Skydive Dubai, Ain Dubai Ferris Wheel and the beacha leisure complex with bars, restaurants and shops.

It is possible to get lost in the gardens, or even find a private grassy area to sunbathe. Three towers of rooms and restaurants dominate the gardens, swimming pools and playgrounds, bordered by 250 meters of fine sandy beach. Interiors are fresh and contemporary, with high ceilings and large expanses of pale polished marble, complemented by the occasional piece of modern artwork.

Monogram

The Bulgari Resort & Residences is located on Jumeirah Bay, a man-made seahorse-shaped island, the hotel is just a two-minute drive from the mainland via a bridge (photo: courtesy The Bulgari Resort & Residences)
The Bulgari Resort & Residences is located on Jumeirah Bay, a man-made seahorse-shaped island, the hotel is just a two-minute drive from the mainland via a bridge (photo: courtesy The Bulgari Resort & Residences)

With an elegant Italian style in the Middle East, The Bulgari Resort & Residences is a private island retreat off the coast of Dubai. An antidote to the city’s ubiquitous skyscraper hotels with a low-rise Mediterranean-style design, a luxurious spa, and the world’s first Bulgari yacht club and marina.

perched on the Jumeirah Bay, an artificial seahorse-shaped island, the property is just a two-minute drive from the mainland via a bridge. It’s also 15 minutes from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the Dubai Mall, but you couldn’t feel further away from the hustle and bustle with stunning views of the Arabian Gulf and a private white sand beach.

Inspired by an exclusive Mediterranean village, the elegant complex is the work of renowned Milanese architecture firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and was created with the same level of craftsmanship and precision as a Bulgari jewel. Rare raw materials like green onyx from Iran and black granite from Mongolia, and luxury furnishings from Italian designers like B&B Italia are complemented by displays of Bulgari heritage pieces and nautical-inspired works from the brand archive.

Just for Donatella

Palazzo Versace Dubai could be a stop on the city's best tours: soaring ceilings, contrasting Greek borders, tons of gleaming marble and Roman mosaics reinforce its neoclassical style (photo courtesy of Palazzo Versace Dubai)
Palazzo Versace Dubai could be a stop on the city’s best tours: soaring ceilings, contrasting Greek borders, tons of gleaming marble and Roman mosaics reinforce its neoclassical style (photo courtesy of Palazzo Versace Dubai)

15 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport, The Palace Versace Dubai from Jaddaf Waterfront it is well located to gain the best views. Opulent Italian furniture, framed fashion sketches and Versace patterns galore are entirely in keeping with the brand. The restaurant’s swimming pool is the icing on the cake.

The former title of this urban district, Culture Village, speaks of its intention to become a center of art and literature.. Neighbors include the book-shaped Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, designed to resemble a Quran on a royal stand, and the Jameel Center for the Arts, which houses contemporary collections from the Middle East and Asia. There is also the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary for flamingos.

If the busy street of the entrance is ignored, the Palazzo Versace Dubai could be a stop on the best tours in the city. High ceilings, contrasting Greek borders, tons of gleaming marble and Roman mosaics enliven its neoclassical style.

Modern updates include framed Versace scarves hanging from the wood-paneled walls and the brand’s ubiquitous jellyfish insignia, watching over guests from every inch of decor.

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