- Africa + Middle East,
- United Arab Emirates
Everybody I know and like is welcome.
The Palace - The Old Town, United Arab Emirates
Dubai 9770, United Arab Emirates
Tel: 971 4 428 7888
Editor's Note: This property was the Sofitel The Palace The Old Town until fall 2008.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: 971 4348 0000
Arguably as iconic as the Burj Al Arab, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, with its mirrored wave-shaped exterior, was the first of Jumeirah's beachfront resorts, opening in 1997. Admittedly the clashing primary-colored interior looks a little dated now, but it remains the perfect family beach resort, with 598 huge rooms, 20 restaurants and bars, and a multitude of water-related options, including five swimming pools, unlimited access to the adjacent Wild Wadi water park, the Pavilion Marina & Sports Club, yacht charters, a dive center, and free shuttle service to many malls. The Sinbad Club keeps kids occupied, while the low-key Uptown Bar, Ibiza-style 360°, and the Polynesian-themed, Kate Moss–patronized Mahiki provide entertainment for grown-ups. Seventy rooms in the north wing have been enlarged for families, but for spacious luxury, book one of the 19 Beit Al Bahar (House by the Sea) villas tucked on the beach, away from the main hotel. Each villa has its own terrace, outdoor dining area, large sunken baths, and plunge pool; there are also dedicated butlers and concierges. The villas' decor is in an Arabic style (high ceilings, wooden beams, and warm maroons) far removed from the slightly garish interiors of the main hotel.—Updated by Susan Hack
Burj Al Arab, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: 971 4301 7777
The 202 all-duplex-suite Burj Al Arab is, at 1,053 feet, the second tallest building in the world to be used exclusively as a hotel. Low-key it is not, with Rolls-Royce pickups at the airport, a rooftop helipad, and an entrance that denies mere plebeians the right to gawk (a barrier ensures only guests and those with restaurant reservations get onto the man-made island on which it's located). The interiors are brightly colored and Midas-touched, while the service is slick and discreet, thanks to battalions of 24-hour personal butlers and in-room check-ins. Each suite has private dining facilities and 42-inch plasma-screen TVs, while the Club suites have their own snooker rooms. The decor is pretty garish, with lots of gold leaf and mirrors over the beds, but the views either out to sea or back toward the coast are breathtaking. Additional facilities are as luxurious as you'd expect: They include the Assawan Spa & Health Club, a secluded infinity pool, and six restaurants, among them the Al Muntaha, 656 feet above sea level on the 27th floor, which serves Mediterranean cuisine, and Al Mahara, the flagship seafood restaurant on the ground floor. But all this glitz comes at a price: Deluxe suites (the most basic) start at around $2,000. If you're determined to get that unique Burj experience, shop around off-season, as it's highly likely you'll find a cheaper rate.