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The Dubai Diaries

After 5 days of pinch me moments, this one of a kind city only gets more surreal. Full of lights, dreams & friendliness - if ever there is a once in a lifetime trip, this is it!

The Dubai Desert

When? 10th November - 15th November 2022

With? The one and only, Jack

Stayed at? Le Royal Meridien

Highlight? Amongst a completely wonderful whirlwind, Atlantis waterpark & the exceptional service everywhere claim the top spots

Improvement? To knock those prices down quite a bit...please?

Siddharta Lounge Dubai

Our first trip just the two of us - Jack & I - in over a year so before we had even begun it was also a romantic few days of us! Plenty of people had said that 5 nights would be enough but whether it was the 'make yourself at home' feel of Le Royal Meridien hotel or the magic moments between the two of us, but a week would have been just fine. 7 nights might have been the cherry on top but maybe not quite as much fun for our bank accounts. . .

Flying Emirates at welcoming times - 9.20am going out there - landing at 8pm their time & 2.20pm back landing at 6pm our time worked well but a time difference of 4 hours can catch you off guard a little more than you think! Here I am 2 days after landing back home at 6am in full force writing this.

We woke with a start the first morning to a knock on the door from housekeeping at 11.15am, we had slept right through breakfast after being excited that breakfast went on until 11am unlike most hotels finishing at 10am! We looked at each other & burst out laughing. From the get go to that first lunchtime, it had all been a whirlwind of confusion. The night before we had not gone to sleep until 2am (despite me not sleeping the night before from me being excited) but we had stayed up draped in our fresh white robes & linens - it was perfection. It was all or nothing and for this trip - we were all in.

We had transfers booked and the service shined through from that moment in the airport where we quickly became 'Sir' and 'Ma'am' to all we met for the next few days. Our bags were rolled along for us and we were handed cool flannels & bottles of water in the cab.

Firstly, it is noted that this really is a mans world in one sense. Plenty of men we met (waiters, taxi drivers etc) would not make eye contact with me, address me - only 'is the air conditioning okay sir?' - and god forbid ever hold a hand out to help you out of the car or onto the boat. It completely fascinates me and makes you realise how much it does happen in the western world! On the other hand, ladies nights are everywhere and whilst I didn't go to any, it is said that the prices are halved and that is where the ladies come first.

Also, on the service side of things it took a good few days to be okay with them doing everything for you. It really did not come naturally to me. Lovely - yes, but wow did I feel bad! A friend of mine had said that when she visited years ago they were placing cucumber over her eyes - now I really don't know how I would do with that when I felt strange them laying out our towels for us around the pool or carrying our drinks when we moved table. You know what is lovely though is that they want to do it - genuinely! If you don't let them pass you that towel after washing your hands or pull that chair out for you, I genuinely think you would be breaking their heart. Whilst tips are given a lot out there as part of the etiquette, it never came across like they were expecting it and one things for sure - it was most definitely deserved so you are happy to give it willingly.

Now, before I break it down in what is already a little long Dubai Diary - I have to admit my trepidation on the commercialised side of this sparkling man made city. I'm not sure how I felt about it but when the opportunity presents itself - how could you ever say no?! You have to block that side out a little to enjoy the luxury - let's just say going to Dubai and staying in a Premier Inn (as incredible as I am sure even they are), is not doing Dubai in all it's glory; that is its ultimate staple.

The Dubai Fountain & Mall

Where to Stay

One place we stayed and one place I would recommend (Yes I may be biased, as I am 99% sure 99% of hotels there would be top notch) is Le Royal Meridien, it is a Marriott hotel and lives up to its name in every regard. The service is impeccable and with multiple incredible restaurants, it really does tick all the boxes. With 3 different pools, one being a magical infinity pool to swim in at sunset and a spa in it's sister hotel (the main one was being renovated when we visited and opening up the day we left so I am sure it is equally as luxurious!) it is the epitome of luxury. Peacocks meandering around, glass lifts showing off the views, a private beach with a view of tens and tens of skydivers floating through the sky in the early hours and camel rides against the shore, his and hers sink and a mirror glaze chocolate birthday cake in our room to top it all off (yes, it was to celebrate Jack's birthday!). What also makes Le Royal Meridien stand out a little from the rest is believe it or not, it is a lot smaller than a lot of the skyscraper hotels in Dubai and whilst still vast and full of everything you could wish for on a trip, it still holds a level of intimacy that is always worth holding on to.

What To Do

You have the classic must do's in Dubai: a desert jeep drive and a camel ride. Then you have your not so frequent occurrences: the sunset boat trip and middle eastern massage. There are many different options for the desert trip and the drive is definitely worth doing if you enjoy that adrenaline kick! But be careful, as they can be very commercialised, all the drivers connecting together to a cheap and cheerful pop up town in the middle of the desert with the main incentive being to make the most of tourists. So with the extras of local food and belly dancing a part of all of the packages, I would opt for one that is slightly more expensive to experience it all with a little more authenticity.

With the whole place being in the middle of the desert, the sunsets light the sky on fire and being on the water at the time is incredible! Visiting one of their signature hammam bath spas and experiencing a beautiful middle eastern oil massage followed by fresh mint tea is also a tranquil experience to say the least.

Visiting the Burj Khalifa and experiencing the Dubai Mall in all its glory of a giant aquarium and Cinnabon heavenliness, is an experience that is truly hard to wrap your head around. It is worth staying until early evening to also see the water fountains outside the mall do an incredible dance! But my biggest recommendation of all is the one and only Atlantis Waterpark.

I have never been to a waterpark before and going to the worlds biggest is not a bad place to start. We got there for opening at 10am and managed to go on all of the slides, with hardly any queues before 2pm when the crowds started coming in and queues reached up to 40 minutes. Unfortunately, we were busy experiencing one of the best 'big kid' days of our lives so do not have any photos but there are loads of videos on Youtube where you can see the slides and again for the adrenaline junkies - add it on to your bucket list asap!

Sand surfing on an evening Desert trip

Atlantis Hotel - Sunset boat trip - Burj Khalifa

Where To Eat

Sushi, Italian, Indian or Mexican? Dubai has it all. And well. To just select the top few, firstly Asia Asia in the financial district near the Burj Khalifa was incredible. Sushi is very common in Dubai and there are lots of premium restaurants (saying that, all the restaurants are to some extent premium!) serving a mouth watering selection. Indya in Le Royal Meridian hotel - I am not usually the first to opt for Indian food as I am not very good with spice but the flavours here changed my opinions! And trying to keep it short and sweet the third would be another in Le Royal Meridian Al Khaima dining outdoors to traditional Middle Eastern cuisine and some genuinely good belly dancing entertainment. Before I go on listing and recommending all of the places we ate, just definitely hunt out some sushi and cocktails in the elevated sky high lounges!

Going into Dubai sceptical as one not usually for 'typical tourist' spots, it really is a place one of a kind, for year round sun, a slice of luxury, good food and incredible service - you can't say no!

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