The Hedonist: Dubai

What to see and where to be seen

Want to party like an Emirati? Perhaps you don't know it yet, but you almost certainly do. Because Dubai's beautiful people – in truth, a mixed bag of expats rather than locals – are a United Nations of sylph-like sirens and minted magnates. Happily for these fashion fans, the opening of the Armani Hotel, halfway up the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which has been postponed three times, has now been announced for next Wednesday, so they'll soon be able to sleep chez Giorgio.

Until then style-seekers have plenty of well-dressed digs to choose from. One of the newest is The Address at Dubai Mall (00 971 4 438 8888; theaddress.com), which offers superior R&R – rest and retail – just across the pond (the world's biggest, naturally, with the world's tallest fountain in the middle). It's attached to the city's flashiest mall, boasts an infinity pool, and – most importantly – a not-so-secret door that leads straight into the new four-floor Bloomingdale's store. Bored boyfriends can avoid skulking around the shoe department by trying out a cage dive in the shark-filled Dubai Aquarium (00 971 4 448 5200; thedubaiaquarium.com), also housed in the mall.

Meanwhile, the DIFC district outpost of Rainer Becker's sublime Japanese restaurant empire Zuma (00 971 4 425 5660; zumarestaurant.com) is still packing them in more than a year after opening, and with good reason. So good is the food, in fact, that an unnamed Abu Dhabi royal helicopters his dinner to the neighbouring emirate daily (although apparently he only actually eats it twice a month). So make like a Sheikh and visit on Friday from 12.30pm-4pm when, for the princely sum of 285 dirhams (£50), you can sample an unlimited amount of pretty much everything on the menu.

Now for some eye-candy. Dubai's nightspots aren't for the faint-hearted – it's pretty much no hairdo, no entry – but they make for stellar people-spotting. The only thing that can compete with the bling of the Cavalli Club's Swarovski-encrusted interior stylings are the diamond-bedecked clientele, who spend the night eyeing each other from the suspended VIP booths. Ladies, think short, tight and shiny if you want to make it past the velvet rope at this nightspot, which is attached to the Fairmont Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road (00 971 4 332 5555; fairmont.com). For guys? Well, undo your shirt to the navel and you'll be halfway there. A word of warning for the uninitiated: the black marble stairs that lead up to the ballroom-sized space seem specifically designed to break your ankle, so it's best to slip off the stilettos on the way up.

Worried the wind will change and you'll be stuck with that pout forever? Time to experience the other side of Dubai's nightlife at the distinctly un-chic President Hotel in Bur Dubai (00 971 4 334 6565). At its Maharlika Café Filipino, if you pretend it's your birthday and pass a napkin with a song request to the covers band on the stage they will play pretty much anything. We recommend "Killing in the Name", as the sight of the five scantily clad dancers headbanging in time to the Rage Against the Machine classic is a singular treat.

This will, inevitably, lead to a stinking hangover, and nothing will nix the nausea like a trip to Aquaventure, the Atlantis Hotel's water park (00 971 4 426 0000; atlantisthepalm.com). A word of warning, though – ladies, it's all about the one-piece. The Leap of Faith, the 61-metre, near-vertical slide that takes you through a shark-infested lagoon, summarily dispenses with string bikinis on the way down.

For a more sedate afternoon in the sun, there is always the beach. Dubai might not boast endless acres of white sand, but what it lacks in palm-fringed, postcard-perfect views it makes up for with five-star service. Most of the hotels that line the coast have a day rate for using their facilities, and the best of these is the One & Only Royal Mirage on Jumeirah Road (00 971 4 399 9999; oneandonlyresorts.com). Just £40 here will get you a sun lounger, a towel and a sea view.

Still haven't had your fill of sand? You're in luck. The desert is a mere 30 minutes outside city limits. The bog-standard 4x4 safari, bookable through most hotels, usually includes a jaunt up Dubai's surrounding dunes, getting better acquainted with your bilious fellow passengers than you might ideally like on the bumpy ride. So a better way to indulge your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies is a night at Al Maha Desert Resort (00 971 4 303 4222; emirateshotelsresorts.com). You'll get 75-square-metres of desert to yourself, as well as your own villa complete with pool and an endangered Oryx or two gambolling out front. A sunset camel ride, ending in champagne and strawberries, is a brilliant photo op, although if you are feeling slightly more creative, the villa comes equipped with a sketch pad and a set of pastels for some impromptu life drawing on the chaise longue. Dinner is included in the price and is a knockout, too.

A Hedonist’s Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see www.hg2.com

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?