If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I have been a regular visitor to the ‘City of Gold’ aka Dubai over the last few months.
Having never visited previously, several close friends emigrating their last year gave me the perfect excuse to visit and explore.
I’ve come to realise that Dubai is the marmite of destinations. You either love it and return regularly (like myself) or you dislike it and one trip is enough. I challenge you to ask someone who has visited and prove my theory wrong!
I have to admit it wasn’t somewhere I anticipated enjoying, as it is quite a party place and full of English people (things I try to avoid on a holiday!), but three visits later and I am still eager to go back and tick some more places off my Dubai bucket list. This, ‘Postcards From…’ piece will be the first of several instalments, as I still have so much to experience, especially with new things popping up to try every week.
Beach Clubs are quite a ‘thing’ in Dubai because of the limited amount of public beach space. The endless construction also means that beach clubs are much more aesthetically pleasing and anyway who wouldn’t want their fluffy towels adjusted throughout the day or a cocktail delivered to their sunbed?
Two of my favourites so far are Nasimi at Atlantis (more to come on that one later) and Puro Beach at The Conrad Hotel.
Amidst the shiny towering skyscrapers you will find Purobeach, which describes itself as an ‘Urban Oasis’ and that sentiment couldn’t be more accurate. Set around a tranquil pool, lush greenery and pristine white loungers instantly transport you to somewhere far more peaceful than you could ever imagine in the middle of such a bustling city.
Greeted with the obligatory towel plump, along with a delicious fruit platter, it wasn’t long before we relaxed into the Dubai lifestyle and signalled for the cocktail menu!
The drinks menu is extensive and the food offering is everything you would expect from a high end beach club – sushi, salads and sharing platters, or something more substantial for those who prefer to pull on their kaftan and enjoy a more civilised lunch away from their sunbeds.
Being our first day and already in full holiday mode, we had no intention of leaving the comfort of our loungers, even where food was concerned! Taking our waiter’s recommendation, we opted for the tasting platter and a round of expertly shaken cocktails which all went down a little too easily.
As the sun sets, Puro becomes a chic cocktail lounge where you can enjoy poolside drinks on comfy sofas and a buzzy atmosphere until the early hours.
After a day relaxing on the beach I was ready to explore what else Dubai had to offer, and one of my favourite areas, both day and night, is Madinat. It feels a little surreal, like something out of Disneyland, as the setting is almost picture perfect with its iconic waterway that connects the various luxury hotels along its stretch.On my first trip we went for breakfast on the balcony at Al Qasr hotel, which has since become one of my favourite rituals. The terrace overlooks the Burj Al Arab and the various courses of breakfast are served on cute tiered stands, which makes for a perfect morning in the sunshine.By night, Madinat is just as spectacular and atmospheric as it is lit with twinkling fairy lights and lanterns. You can enjoy an early evening stroll around the souks and bars overlooking the waterway and a trip on one of the traditional Abra boats is a Dubai essential in my book.So far the only restaurant I have tried for dinner is Tortuga, a fun Mexican restaurant with great cocktails and an incredible melted cheese dish served in a volcanic rock (it has to be tried!), but there are plenty of other choices from fine dining through to the more casual if Mexican doesn’t take your fancy.
Cocktail bars with a view are almost two a penny in Dubai, but 40 Kong wowed me on my first ever night, so I felt it a recommendation worthy of my first Dubai hot list.Situated on the 40th floor of the H Hotel, the open air bar/restaurant is the epitome of Dubai glamour, offering a buzzing atmosphere and breath-taking views.As I stepped out of the lift, I felt as if I was in an episode of Sex & The City. Aside from being there to meet my own Carrie and Charlotte, otherwise known as Olivia & Tala, the bar’s ambient lighting, chic décor and buzzing atmosphere made everything feel ultra glamourous, as well as having the most stylish crowd I have ever witnessed in one place. 40 Kong feels sophisticated and that really is quite a triumph in Dubai.
Our table was high with stool-like seats, which weren’t particularly comfortable but we had a great position for people watching and taking in the cool ambiance.
The drinks menu is comprehensive with the cocktail list offering some unique concoctions; my favourite being the ‘Jasmin’ which is prosecco based with lychee liqueur, passion fruit and raspberry caviar, offering a sharp hit of flavour.
We were there for dinner and opted for a selection of tasting plates to share. Each was well presented and tasty, particular highlights included the rock shrimp tempura and some mini sliders which were perfectly bite size.
It was getting very crowded by this point and the DJ’s tunes were getting louder, so if you plan to eat I would suggest getting there on the early side, the same applies if you want a table with a view.
Crowding aside, 40 Kong is a must visit to fully experience the beauty of Dubai at night. The temperature dropping was our signal to leave, but not before ticking off some essential photo opportunities, after all this is one of the best night time views you will experience and leaving without a picture would be an injustice.
As I mentioned, Dubai really is the Marmite of holiday destinations, but knowing where to go is a head start as there are literally so many options. Hopefully I’ve given you some idea of where to start and I’ll be adding more over the next few weeks, including the best brunch in Dubai and a trip to the iconic Atlantis.