It’s 9 PM on a Friday night and I’m sitting down to write this blog post about my trip to Dubai. We actually arrived home a bit earlier than expected due to the fact we (my boyfriend and I) caught some sort of virus. Pretty sure it’s the flu. I’m still recovering from it, and half-asleep right now, so excuse any typos. 😉
We chose to visit Dubai for a few reasons, but mostly because I’ve heard amazing things from multiple friends of mine. For the last 7 days, we have been exploring this exciting and bustling city. From the insane plane ride we took to get there, to swimming at sunrise on top of our hotel, to the crazy skyscrapers that towered over us, to meeting the locals in the middle of the desert…there were SO many new experiences that I’d never had before. Some of these experiences were incredible and eye-opening, and others were not exactly my favorite. In every blog post and instagram caption, I always aim to be as honest as possible–so I’m here to tell you all the good and not so good parts about our personal trip in Dubai.
The flight to Dubai was INSANE. I’ve never flown Emirates before and as soon as I boarded, my mouth dropped open. A week before our trip, I received a special “promo” from the airline offering to bump us up to business class, and I was ecstatic! However, I had no idea what I was actually in for.
The Emirates business class is out of a dream. There is a separate deck and check-in for Emirates business class/first class, and a separate deck of the 2-story airplane. Right after we stored away our carry-on luggage, we were greeted with champagne and fresh orange juice from the stewardess. The seats have so much extra leg room, and recline into a bed so you can sleep for the entire duration of the flight (which we both did, very comfortably).
The business class lounge features a bar that serves drinks and small snacks for the duration of the flight as well, and a separate seating area near the bar if you’d like to relax. Before our flight, I put in a special request for a vegan option–and they provided us with bread, fruits, and vegetable-based options which was really nice.
The overall experience was truly amazing and made the flight to Dubai such a breeze.
Arriving in Dubai…
Arriving in Dubai gave me such a rush of energy considering I’d never been before and have only heard such great things about this big city. The airport is huge, and really strict with security, so we had to go through a security check upon arrival to the airport. After going through customs and claiming our bags, we found our driver to our first stop — Shangri-La Dubai, which is located downtown.
The Shangri-La is the perfect spot if you are looking for a real city-life feel. The location reminded me of New York in a way, except everything is more spread out. There were a lot of business men and groups running in and out of the hotel at all times, and night-life seemed prominent there. Our hotel room was a superior king room overlooking the city skyline, with a pretty decent view of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world!)
My favorite part about the Shangri-La was the observation deck and swimming pool area, which had the most insane views of the Burj Khalifa up close. It was incredibly breathtaking to arrive at the hotel, drop our luggage off in our room, and start taking photos on the deck right away! The next day, we woke up for sunrise and swam in the pool overlooking the city and the amazing views of the Burj. The hotel was kind enough to also set up a private breakfast on the deck for us, consisting of fruit platters, chia pudding bowls, avocado toast, and juices!
I would say that this hotel in particular did have the most nightlife vibe to it–which is an amazing thing if you love to stay up late. We grabbed dinner one night super late at their Japanese restaurant located inside the hotel and the place felt like a nightclub — loud bass music and lots of people, but really AMAZING food. Meir and I both ordered the mushroom tofu rice bowls and chili edamame and loved it. Personally — we are not huge party people and we like to be very lowkey, so the vibe was a bit out of my comfort zone but I did still enjoy it.
Our First Night…
The first real night we spent exploring in Dubai was at the Burj Khalifa light show and the Dubai Mall.
The light show was so magical. Hundreds of people crowd outside the tallest building in the world to see an array of lights and pictures appear on the Burj, while romanticized music blasts in the air. There were so many people from all around the world taking photos and videos as we watched.
After the show, we headed into the mall which was right next door. The Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world! I don’t even think we were able to cover a quarter of it. There were hundreds of designer shops, big and small, everywhere we turned. There was an enormous food court, stacked with dozens of fast food joints and dessert shops. There’s a hotel inside of the mall and a hospital, as well as an ice skating rink, a full-sized aquarium, and probably a million other things I didn’t even get to see in time.
We ended up doing a safari tour the second night we were in Dubai. The safari was not what I was expecting to say the least, just because we didn’t really get to see much even though we were out the entire day. We drove through the desert, which was definitely a cool experience–but since we were with a large group of people, it was hard to experience everything the way we had wanted to. If you do decide to go on a safari tour, I recommend doing a private one so you can relax and take your time experiencing everything.
The coolest part I would say about the safari tour was towards the end. We visited a site in the middle of the desert surrounded by palm trees and these cozy bedrooms that you can actually stay in overnight. There were a bunch of locals, also known as “Emiratis”, who were making food for everyone, herbal teas and coffees, and playing Arab music. It was nice to immerse ourselves in that “authentic” type of experience for a night. The best part about the night though by far was meeting one of my followers–who happened to be in the middle of the Dubai desert at the same exact time! So random and SO amazing!
The next hotel we stayed at was on the Palm, which is a man-made palm tree shaped island consisting of dozens of hotels. This area has much more of a beachy feel because all of the hotels have their own beachside area. I love the ocean and laying out in the sun, so this was definitely right up my alley.
For the next few nights, we stayed at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray property–which is seriously out of a movie. The hotel replicated an Arabian palace. Everything was so lush and ornate, from the entrance to the pools, to the spa, to the rooms–all of it was so over the top and luxurious. When you walk in, you are greeted by a huge sparkling fountain and golden plush sofas in the seating area. Once we arrived to our room, we were greeted by a HUGE over the top marble bath tub, a giant king sized fluffy bed, and Arabian palace decor.
My favorite part about this hotel was by far the spa–voted one of the best in the world. The women’s pool is a dream–featuring galaxy star ceilings, that make you feel like you’re in outer space while you are swimming through the warm water.
The Rooftops, Spice Markets and Miracle Garden…
The rooftops in Dubai are inaccessible to the public unless you have a connection. We met with another content creator who lives in Dubai and was fortunately able to give us access to this amazing rooftop with direct views of the Burj. The photos we took there were so stunning. Although it was totally worth it for the photos, getting to these rooftops is never an easy task and required lots of climbing. 😉 This night was actually the night I started feeling a bit under the weather, and the flu symptoms started to hit us both.
The Spice Markets were super interesting to go to, and nonetheless very far from where we were staying on the Palm. They were about an hour drive from where we were, and unless you are closer I don’t highly recommend going here as a top destination spot. We only spent about 20 minutes here, and all of the shop owners kept grabbing our clothes and our wrists, telling us to stop and buy things. I’m used to this type of hustle in NYC, but I personally didn’t feel comfortable being there for too long. It was 99% male populated, with nearly no women other than a couple of tourists, in site. If I wasn’t with Meir, I would have felt unsafe.
The Miracle Garden was also pretty far from where we were–but it was worth the trip to see its beauty and to get some amazing photos. The entire garden smells like all different types of flowers, and everything is so colorful and vibrant. The music in the garden was honestly a bit trippy, kind of like Alice in Wonderland, luring you into the different alleys and making you feel like you’re on some sort of spring fever high. I liked it, but I also felt a bit overwhelmed with the hundreds of tourists scurrying everywhere.
Our last part of the trip was experienced at the One & Only Royal Mirage, alongside the beach. This hotel was one of my absolute favorites. We felt super welcomed right as we arrived and were greeted with the biggest smiles at check-in. Our room was super roomy and beautiful, with a stunning balcony view overlooking the property and the ocean.
Because Meir and I both had a virus, we opted to stay on property for the rest of our stay and relax. The Royal Mirage made this simple for us–and set us up with amazing spa treatments and meals. I enjoyed my first traditional Hammam experience, which is essentially a type of cleansing treatment and body scrub. I wish I could have captured this but it was super private and such an intimate, cool experience. It was actually nice to take a break from my phone and just enjoy the hour spent at the spa for the day.
At night, we decided to go to the night restaurant and lounge called DRIFT to get some more photos at sunset. It was so gorgeous and modern, and they had a huge swing overlooking the city skyline. Unfortunately, we were both pretty sick by this point in the night and after a quick dinner, we went to bed and had to wake up at midnight to catch our flight back to NYC at 2:30 AM.
Overall my experience in Dubai was awesome. I had so much fun exploring this city and there were a lot of cool opportunities I’ve never had before — including riding through the desert, shopping in the biggest mall in the WORLD, seeing the tallest buildings I’ve ever seen in my life, and meeting local people who’s families have been there for hundreds of years before all the crazy architecture and nightlife. That being said, I don’t think I would ever live in a place like Dubai. Yes, the city life is something I truly love, but it was a bit too overwhelming for me in terms of the attractions. Everything is so extremely over the top, luxurious and surrounds this idea of wealth and fortune. It’s amazing to visit, but to live in a fantasy world 24/7, I would have to pass.
Have you ever been to Dubai? If so, would you want to visit? I would love to hear your experience or opinion of it!