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

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone