Known for its soaring skyscrapers, legendary nightlife, and palm-shaped islands, Dubai exudes opulence and extravagance. While there are certainly some extremely expensive bucket-list hotels, Dubai’s growing popularity has brought a wider range of accommodations, attracting everyone from honeymooners to families with children. With that in mind, we’ve highlighted five of Dubai’s most luxurious hotels and their more affordable, but still amazing, alternatives. This is Dubai luxury, for less.
Set on a private, hour-glass-shaped island in the Persian Gulf, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah offers a one-of-a-kind setting for an opulent romantic getaway. The hotel’s sleek, sail-shaped tower is an iconic fixture of Dubai’s skyline, and can be seen from around the city. Spacious guest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows for excellent views over the Persian Gulf from the comfort of plush couches and whirlpool tubs. Each floor features its own private butler, and gold-plated iPads connect guests to the service concierge for additional requests. The property’s larger pool is situated right on the island’s edge overlooking the gulf waters, while the smaller pool is set on a higher terrace with a swim-up bar. The hotel’s private white-sand beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, with plenty of loungers and umbrellas available for relaxing. Other noteworthy perks include seven restaurants, a well-equipped fitness center, spa, and free access to the nearby Wild Wadi Water Park.
Just down the coast from the Burj Al Arab, the high-end Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf resort rivals the luxury status of its shiny, modern neighbor, while enjoying lower prices and a more picturesque setting of palm groves and meandering canals. The Dar Al Masyaf is one of several properties comprising the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort complex, which packs a lengthy list of amenities and activities. By day, guests can swim at any of the numerous pools, laze along a mile-long private beach, or cool off at Wild Wadi Waterpark. Other activities include tennis, yoga, and a range of treatments at the Talise Spa. By night, there are 50 restaurants to choose from, a live theater, and nightlife at Souk Madinat. In addition to fine dining and abundant activities, Dar Al Masyaf’s spacious rooms, furnished balconies, rain showerheads, and sizable tubs provide a romantic sanctuary for couples. Although guests can easily navigate the resort on foot or via golf cart, the most scenic journey is by abra—a traditional boat operated by staff along the waterways.
The palatial Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach succeeds in creating a laidback atmosphere within an extremely deluxe setting. For families, the pool and long stretch of powdery white sand are huge perks. The kid-friendly Active Pool provides a zero-entry design, meaning that the little ones can safely splash about in the shallows. Additionally, the Kids For All Seasons Activity Center puts on free programs and activities for the kids throughout the day. Meanwhile, parents can unwind at the adult-only Quiet Pool or ease into relaxation at the Pearl Spa. Suites come with spacious common areas, multiple bathrooms, and huge terraces, providing an ideal setup for family time while maintaining some privacy between parents and kids. The property is a bit removed from Dubai’s main attractions, but the hotel can easily whisk guests by house car to the Dubai Zoo or Mall of the Emirates in under 15 minutes.
Located on the outermost island of the Palm Jumeirah archipelago, this Atlantis, The Palm property lives up to the hype of its sister resorts in the Bahamas. The hotel’s grand structure features the Atlantis’s trademark archway between two soaring pink towers. Guest rooms come with balconies, soaking tubs, and minibars, as well as high-end modern decor. The majority of guest rooms are connected, so families can easily reserve adjoining rooms. On top of its magnificent setting, the Atlantis offers more family-friendly amenities and activities than any other hotel in Dubai. Guests can spot rays, sharks, and dozens of fish species in the aquarium’s main three-million-gallon tank through a giant glass pane, or hop in the tank as part of a scuba or snorkeling tour. Meanwhile, the water park has lots of fun in store with a winding lazy river and numerous waterslides, including the Leap of Faith – a body slide that passes through a shark tank. Other kid-friendly amenities include a zero-entry pool with an adjoining playground, dolphin and sea lion encounters, and plenty of golden sand along the Arabian Sea.
Set at the end of the Palm Jumeirah’s west crescent, this luxury One&Only property affords gorgeous beaches and solitude away from surrounding resorts. The hotel is reminiscent of a Moorish castle, with numerous archways and courtyards adorned with fountains throughout. The surrounding gardens are immaculately maintained, as is the expansive palm-fringed pool, where guests can relax in comfy daybeds and lounge chairs. The hotel’s Palm Beach Suites and Beachfront Villas are its most extravagant, boasting sprawling, generously furnished patios, private plunge pools, chic modern decor, and easy beach access. Even standard rooms come with private balconies or terraces, as well as walk-in rainfall showers and separate marble tubs. Though dining options and activities aren’t as limitless as other Palm Jumeriah resorts, the hotel’s three restaurants are highly reputable, especially STAY, whose Michelin-star chef creates delectable French fare.
On the opposite side of Palm Jumeirah, the Waldorf Astoria wields a serene beachfront setting and luxurious accommodation for about half the price. Guest rooms exude elegance with white marble bathrooms, plush contemporary furnishings, and private balconies, which afford excellent views of the Arabian Sea. With 319 guest rooms, the property may not match One&Only’s exclusivity, but the Waldorf has a wider selection of restaurants, two pools, and activities that make it a more well-rounded Dubai destination for all types of travelers. Guests can take advantage of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to explore the tranquil sea, or embark on wake-boarding or fishing excursions from the hotel’s jetty. Both pools and the beach are lined with plenty of cabanas, lounge chairs, and umbrellas to accommodate hundreds of guests. Restaurant options range from Vietnamese to British high tea and Italian fine-dining—the latter boasting a three-star Michelin chef.
The Residence & Spa boutique hotel affords seclusion and Dubai luxury, while granting access to the amenities of two neighboring larger hotels: The Palace Hotel and Arabian Court Hotel. All of the hotel’s guest rooms have private balconies or patios, as well as waterfall showers, butler service, and expensive (but free for guests) Molton Brown toiletries. With only 49 guest rooms, the pool and picturesque gardens remain uncrowded. Although the beach is shared with the other hotels, there are sufficient lounge chairs and water sports equipment to go around. For more seclusion, guests can take a private boat to enjoy the isolated beaches at the hotel’s sister property: One&Only The Palm. Other perks enjoyed by Residence & Spa guests include a traditional hammam, massages, private fitness trainers, and free made-to-order breakfasts.
This alternative luxury Dubai resort occupies an expansive white-sand beach down the coast from the Residence & Spa at One&Only Royal Mirage. In addition to much cheaper prices, Le Meridien packs more activities and nightlife without skimping on what you expect from a high-end beachfront hotel: gorgeous pool, plush beach loungers, and furnished balconies with sweeping views of the marina and Palm Jumeirah. By day, most of the action takes place at the main pool’s swim-up bar, volleyball courts, and just offshore, where guests cruise by on stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and water skis. Later on, the popular Barasti Beach Bar draws crowds for live music and late-night weekend parties. Families with young children can easily remove themselves from the revelry at either of the shaded children’s pools or next door at the more upscale Westin Hotel, where Le Meridien guests are granted free facilities access.
As we previously mentioned, the Palace at One&Only Royal Mirage sits within a complex comprising three hotels. The sprawling grounds of palm trees, private half-mile beach, and four massive pools provide sanctuary from Dubai’s urban bustle. All 13 types of rooms include private balconies oriented towards the sea or charming courtyard gardens. Traditional Arabic design pervades throughout, characterized by archways, art, and elegant fabrics. While the Palace exudes a sophisticated, romantic atmosphere, families with kids are also catered to. Parents can enroll the little ones in the KidsOnly program or waterskiing and tennis lessons while unwinding with massages. Furthermore, seven restaurants offer Middle Eastern, Asian, and European fare, along with six bars and lounges, affording a variety of culinary and nightlife options without leaving the resort grounds. However, venturing offsite can be easily arranged via boat shuttle to the One&Only Palm hotel or short taxi to nearby attractions like the Dubai Mall and Emirates Golf Course.
Reasonable rates aside, the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort is a solid alternative luxury Dubai choice for a beachfront hotel in the lively Dubai Marina neighborhood. Rooms may not boast the plushest amenities, but are well-kept and have garden and pool views for the most part. The abutting Jumeirah Beach is one of Dubai’s best, with expansive white sand and incredibly calm waters for swimming and water sports. Additionally, the property’s large pool retains a tranquil setting of lush gardens and palms, which is a rarity amongst the surrounding high rises and shopping malls. Guests are well provided for with several restaurants, a beachside lounge, and a swim-up bar, but it’s worth exploring The Walk – a nearby outdoor promenade lined with boutiques and restaurants. A final fun perk: the Sheraton has its own PADI-certified diving center which can arrange diving excursions and courses for beginners and pros alike.