Dubai – a classy Vegas

Posted on November 28, 2014

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image3It’s been 15 years since I’ve been to Dubai and the city has expanded exponentially. It reminds me of Vegas, only much more classy. From the Atlantis with it’s own water park, to the decadent weekend brunches with piles of excellent food and free flowing cocktails.

Actually, I tried one of the brunches and loved it. Who wouldn’t like a delicious 22 course tasting menu of plus unlimited cocktails at the start of a mini break? We opted for a high end version where the food was absolutely fabulous: an ‘ocean brunch’ at Sofitel Palm. I can totally see how these would get out of hand with a bunch of friends on a weekend lunchtime. There are a few about town of which Time Out have a good ‘Top Ten‘.

image1And the reason we opted for that brunch is that we didn’t stray too far from the hotel the first day. The Sofitel Palm gave us total luxury on reclaimed land laid out to sea in the shape of a Palm. Relatively newly built (i.e. it didn’t exist when I was here last), the land has been reclaimed thanks to the help of some Dutch architects to give more beach and sea space. It is typical-of-Dubai luxury with an overwhelming number of staff at every turn. The spa is simply amazing – opt for one of their signature treatments. We managed to persuade them (admittedly with some effort) to serve our full English breakfast on the loungers on the beach so that we could eat looking over the sea with the city in the background. I love being spolit.

Most of the great bars and restaurants seem to be affiliated to a hotel. Only there for two nights,we went exploring…

Firstly meeting friends for drinks at the rather incredible lounge bar called the The Jetty at The One and Only (even though there are two) Mirage. The location is awesome but book ahead to get a table outside. We then popped next door for dinner at The Grill which reputation was better than I felt it deserved. Good food but not up to the amazing standard that Dubai has become known for.

On our second/last night we popped to see some friends who have an apartment in the Burj Kalifa, which was until recently the tallest building in the world. They gave us a guided tour to the residents only access areas. Views from 113rd floor are unreal. I can’t imagine what it’s like at floor 208. Residents have access to a gym on floor seventy something with jacuzzi on an open deck looking over the sea (what a way to wind down after a long day on the office!). Well worth a visit, for the curved architecture and detail that has gone into the building, as well as the views that put the city in perspective.

image6If you are lucky, you’ll also see one of the infamous fountain displays from above. On the ground the outside area will suddenly burst into song every 30mins – from Lionel Richie (seriously check this out here), to a waltz, the spectacular fountains dance in time to the music. The choreography is simply stunning – to rival the Bellagio in Vegas.

image8That night we saw several of the displays as we ate on the terrace at Zeta Restaurant & Lounge at The Address. Having good views of the fountains was surpassed only by the absplutely incredible food –  black miso code that melts like butter in your mouth and the wagyu beef that was the most tender I have ever eaten. Washed down with a rather delicious South African Pinot Noir, it was a little bit of over the top luxurious heaven typical of Dubai.

On a practical note, Uber not only works in Dubai but is a little more luxurious than it’s British counterpart. Makes life easier and saves carrying cash (which is essential with normal taxis). Also take note that when you arrive at the airport  you may be pushed towards a black executive car but honestly, taxi’s are just as good and a lot cheaper.

Overall I felt like I was in a more refined Vegas. And I rather enjoyed it.

 

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