A desert city playground with a unique combination of Arabian culture, mega-malls and audacious architecture in a setting of year-round sun, sand and sea. Great family hotels and a ridiculous number of family attractions too.
Recommended place to stay:
Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) Hotel
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)|www.qe2.com|
Official star rating:
Surprisingly under the radar for such an icon, the original QE2 cruise liner (now retired) sits quietly in Port Rashid. Permanently harboured in Dubai, it’s been transformed now into a luxury hotel.
Her 215 rooms, spread over 13 decks, harken back to her life on the open seas, with interiors that still have a touch of the 1980s, original art pieces, quirky details and carpets from her heyday.
Rooms range from cosy (i.e. tiny) to the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary Royal Suites, once reserved for members of the royal family, with a conservatory and private terrace.
‘Dubai’s oldest pub’, the Golden Lion, is also onboard, and sundowners at The Pavilion, on the aft deck, harkens back to the days of maritime glamour.
While the QE2 may not have the facilities offered by many of Dubai’s beach resorts, you’re staying in an icon of maritime history. Guests can also join one of the excellent heritage tours, led by a former Cruise Director, who’ll regale you with stories from his time onboard.
Being harboured in Port Rashid isn’t ideal – there’s nothing to speak of in the vicinity – but you’re not staying here for the location.
However, you do get views of the Dubai skyline from the deck, you’re surrounded by water, and it’s just a short drive to Dubai Creek, the Al Fahidi heritage district, and the bustling streets of Deira.
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