There’s more to Dubai than meets the eye. This thriving emirate may not literally be paved with 24-karat gold, but in this sparkling city you’ll uncover a wealth of captivating and cathartic pursuits perfect for a luxury getaway.
One of the first major tourist destinations to invite the world after the global pandemic, Dubai has re-emerged with vigour, opening exclusive new night spots, internationally renowned entertainment venues, and even welcoming the coveted Michelin Guide—instantly elevating the status of an already burgeoning gastronomy scene. Get to know Dubai with DayAway’s pocket guide, which shortlists the best of the city:
Art and Culture
Cultural highlights that should not be missed
If you’re looking for a vibrant cultural district, this is it. Burrowed in the thick of a low-lying industrial area sits a network of 40-ish warehouses, converted into contemporary galleries, dance studios, indie cafés and much more. Book a screening at Dubai’s foremost arthouse cinema, Cinema Akil (replete with plush velvet seats) or sample a slew of exhibitions, which often depict life in the Middle East through a fresh and provocative lens.
Alserkal Avenue | @alserkalavenue
“Old” meets new in the emirate’s societal cradle, where dhow boats drift by and seagulls flock along the southern edge of the Dubai Creek. This is (roughly) where the city emerged from a small pearl diving village, and it’s often hard to distinguish which buildings are true heritage architecture, or part of the relatively new Al Seef district—a waterfront destination packed with cafés, bars, and boutiques. Those with a discerning eye will enjoy distinguishing the faux-vintage elements, but stroll next door to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood for a deeper dive into the formative years of Old Dubai, with buildings and artefacts dating back to the 1890s.
Al Seef Dubai | @alseefdubai
DayAway Tip: Fancy yourself a design enthusiast? Peruse the opulent Habtoor Palace Dubai and try another tradition: Afternoon Tea at the Sidra Lounge.
Eat and Drink
Savour local flavours and treat yourself to a decadent meal
Yes, the Michelin Guide Dubai has been released, which is why it’s the best time to avoid that buzzing selection of starred establishments while the feeding frenzy takes place. Ditch the guide (for now) and settle down for Dubai’s acclaimed overwater eatery. Pair an elegant Italian dish with crisp whites from the Old World and New, while soaking in the sweeping coastal vista from the private pier of the five-star Jumeirah Al Qasr—unrivalled anywhere else in the city.
Prefer to scope out the awarded hotspots? Enjoy a Michelin-starred experience and the Number 1 restaurant in MENA, according to The World’s 50 Best. Expect light, intricate seafood plates, prepared with a squeeze of love and plenty of twists. Here’s the catch: you can’t reserve a table ahead of time, so be prepared to wait. There are just a handful of covers, but plenty of rustic seafood options in the area. Try the nearby Bu Qtair for less delicate (marinated and fried) fish dishes. Anthony Bourdain ate there and loved it.
DayAway Tip: Keen for a nostalgic culinary journey? Hit the Friday Buffet at Indian Bazaar at V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton and enjoy a spread of savoury tidbits, biryanis, railway-style mutton curry and more.
Wellness and Adventure
Make time for some active rest and unwind in style
Talise Ottoman Spa
Dubai isn’t short of spas. Every luxury hotel in the city has an array of massage and wellness facilities, but not all are created equal. With more than 8,200 sqm of facilities, Talise Ottoman Spa is a complete sanctuary of rejuvenation, with the historic Ottoman hammam at its core. Why not try the Arabian Royal Hammam? A regal ritual that scrubs, cleanses and purifies, with the guarantee of sheer bliss when the treatment culminates with a rose or gold body mask.
Talise Ottoman Spa | @taliseottomanspa
DayAway Tip: There are few self-care escapes in Dubai as indulgent as the Full Day Spa Journey at Waldorf Astoria Spa, which includes four hours at the spa followed by afternoon tea at legendary Peacock Alley, which affords beautiful views of Palm Jumeirah.
Shopping and Nightlife
Splash cash at amazing boutiques and legendary day clubs
One of many Dubai destinations that can’t be easily defined, Comptoir 102 blends organic, vegan-friendly dining with a haven for boutique shoppers and artisanal craft lovers. The converted villa sits in the Jumeirah neighbourhood and is the perfect place to pick up unique gifts, home accessories, or just while away the hours with a book and a bite within the breezy conservatory.
If you can’t bear to visit a sun-soaked destination without feeling like you’ve been ‘scene’, then Nammos is the obvious choice for you. The Mykonos import builds on the Greek chic of the original venue, with plenty of healthy plates, crafted cocktails and a generous dose of glamour… including plenty of celebs, athletes, and the occasional royal family member.
Nammos Dubai | @nammos.dubai
Sure, you can pop bottles at any number of nightclubs, from Armani/Privē to Cavalli Club. With Billionaire, you get a fun blend of outlandish live entertainment, alongside great food and service. At its heart, the Italian and Asian menus underpin the dinner-and-a-show celebration, which is arguably one of the ultimate escapism experiences in Dubai.