Dubai is somewhere I have visited on a number of occasions, for a number of different reasons; I used it as a stop off point for 4 nights on the way to the Maldives on my Honeymoon in 2012, I visited for 7 nights over New Year when Rocco was 2 and Tahlia was 1, and I spent 10 days there to celebrate my in laws 70th Birthdays last year. It's pretty obvious its somewhere I enjoy visiting, and I guess I would say it's a great place to go to for some guaranteed 'good weather', 6 star hotels, upmarket bars and restaurants, good service, good shopping and family fun which can include skiing in a shopping Mall! Word of warning though...this Arabic country with its high rise skyline, that includes one of the tallest buildings in the world (The Burj Khalifa - which is worth a visit) can be pretty pricey!
So lets start with 'somewhere to stay'. In all honesty, so many of the hotels in Dubai are fantastic, it's more about choosing the right area for YOU. The Palm is a little further out, The Marina offers great shopping and restaurants, JBR is buzzing at night and also has some fantastic shopping, and the hotels on Jumeriah Beach are just as they are described - on the Beach. Whichever area you choose too stay in, everywhere is easily accessible in a clean, air conditioned cab! Clean is exactly how I would describe Dubai. Even around the hot, sweaty, bustling souks, its still seems clean. The pure white, sandy beaches are man made and the sea after the Summer months is like a bath!
I've stayed at The Royal Mirage and, on a couple of occasions, The Sofitel on The Palm. Both of these hotels are 5 star and beautiful, the later of which I found better suited to families. The accommodation available in The Sofitel includes large 2/3 bedroom apartments that can sleep up to 8, the hotel offers a good choice of restaurants, a few swimming pools (one of which has water slides), and a mini market. Lets not forget it has a fantastic spa (try the Ayurveda massage) that is a 'must visit' if you manage to find an hour to yourself when the children are being well cared for and entertained in the Kids Club.
I found the quality of the food in all of the restaurants at The Sofitel of great standard. Moana, the seafood restaurant was gorgeous, but Hong Loong the chinese was my favourite (make sure you book well in advance). I would recommend staying on a Half Board basis at this hotel but be aware the food menus might be a little restrictive and repetitive.
If you are looking for a couple of romantic nights away in Dubai, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort Spa should be on your list. With an Ararbic night and live show this place is a unique, and enchanting getaway.
You will not be short of places to dine out at in Dubai. I sampled a few drinks and (incredibly expensive) dishes in Atmosphere at the top of The Burj Khalifa. It is almost worth it for the journey in the lift to the top because of view when you get there. I also dined at Novikov Dubai which opened in July 2016. The service in Novikov was fantastic and the restaurant is proud to showcase its fresh fish and vegetables which are displayed in front of where the talented chefs cook. I can highly recommend trying some of the signature dishes from the menu. The black cod was my favourite and if Asian Fusion/Sushi is your thing then this is a great place to eat at in Dubai. The highlight of the meal for me were the signature desserts that were delivered on a bed of smoking dry ice. It's pricey but nice for a special treat. Some of other places worth checking out to eat at include the new La Mer Dubai (ideal for children) and Il Faro on The Palm which has a beautiful view.
When it comes to family fun, no visit to Dubai is complete without a trip to a waterpark, and next to The Sofitel on The Palm you will find Aquaventure. Even though Rocco and Tahlia are still both quite young, they thoroughly enjoyed the children's water slide area and the lazy river. For a special treat I would recommend booking to swim with the dolphins. You can also hire go-pro's for the day to to film your experiences and for special discounts on tickets its worth booking in advance.
You can find another fun family thing to do just down the steps from Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard on the way to Burj Park ... The Downtown Slide. This is a 19-metre long tube that’s mounted at a 30 degree angle which is amazing. It's seven metres tall at its highest point and I can highly recommend it! Although it's metal, the slide has state-of-the-art insulation which means the inside is always kept cool (even in extreme temperatures). It's open from 4pm to 1am, daily and best of all it's completely free. It's not difficult to spend money it Dubai - either in the amazing shopping malls or in the restaurants so it's pretty handy when you can find 'thing's to do for free'!
Away from the madness and if you want something a little more peaceful in Dubai - yes I said peaceful, then go and visit the amazing, colourful floral sculptures at the Dubai Miracle Garden! There are some great spots to take beautiful photographs. With a crepe stall and pizza stand there are also a couple of places to grab a quick bite. There isn't much shade so make sure you take lots of water and sunscreen for your little ones. It costs around £7.00 per adult to get in.
Dubai is somewhere you will simply either LOVE or HATE. I always enjoy Dubai and am pretty sure I will be returning when I have saved a few pennies (or £'s), and am in need of some guaranteed sunshine during the Winter months. If you can't stand extreme heat, I wouldn't recommend visiting in July and August. It's worth being mindful of visiting during Ramadan when many places are closed during the day and it's also worth noting Dubai is a 'Dry State' and drinking in restaurants outside of hotels is strictly forbidden.