Dubai is a city that likes to show off. It boasts the world’s tallest building and largest shopping mall, which houses the world’s second largest aquarium.
You’ll stare up at skyscrapers and cruise along waterways past palm-shaped islands, unable to believe that you’re on the edge of a vast desert. It’s a great place for a family holiday. There’s a range of activities to keep kids busy and an array of luxury resorts to take care of your every whim.
In the desert
A dune safari is great fun. You’ll tear up and down sand dunes in a Jeep driven by a very skilled driver and see the desert in all its glory. You can then get up close to some camels at a camel farm – but watch out, they spit – and stop to soak up the views of endless
A Morning Dune Drive with Arabian Adventures costs £35 per person, including a guided desert trip and a visit to a camel farm.
In the city
A day of shopping is a must. The Dubai Mall has Arabic shops that sell traditional homeware, decorations and clothes as well as designer outlets such as Missoni, Donna Karan and Chloé.
For kids, though, the mall offers something far more exciting. The 10 million litre Dubai Aquarium, which was the largest in the world until Georgia Aquarium opened in 2005, has 140 species of aquatic animals, including sharks, rays and penguins.
While you’re in downtown Dubai, be sure to take a trip to the top of the magnificent Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. It takes just 60 seconds to ride up to the 124th floor, and the views of this extraordinary city as the lift door opens are thrilling.
Where to stay
ANANTARA DUBAI THE PALM RESORT & SPA
The Anantara is perched on the eastern crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, a man-made palm-shaped piece of land that juts into the sea. Stay in a lagoon room and you can roll out of bed and straight into the pool. You also have access to the hotel’s private beach, which has safe, shallow waters and a range of watersports for the whole family.
Price: A Deluxe Lagoon View Room costs from £250 a night for a family of four, including breakfast
More info: dubai-palm.anantara.com
ONE&ONLY ROYAL MIRAGE
The Royal Mirage overlooks Palm Island, and is a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. It comprises three properties – The Palace, Arabian Court and Residence & Spa – with shuttles between them. With echoes of old Arabia, kids have the chance to learn the art of henna painting and try belly dancing. Arabic lessons are also available. There are 65 acres of lush green lawns to explore, plus a private stretch of Jumeirah Beach, as well as camel riding and an evening of Arabian camping.
Price: A Superior Deluxe Room costs from £466 per night for a family of four
More info: familytravellerholidays.com
JA OCEAN VIEW HOTEL
Situated on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, the JA Ocean View is just a few minutes’ walk from Dubai Marina. It has five restaurants, a rooftop pool, a lift that gives direct access to the beach, a spa and a kids’ club. There are lots of watersports on offer, as well as horse riding, fishing, mini golf, tennis and squash. Sister property the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort is great for golf-loving families or those who prefer a resort-based holiday.
Price: A Sea View Room costs from £120 per night for a family of four.
More info: jaresorthotels.com/Ocean-View
ATLANTIS THE PALM, DUBAI
The sheer scale of this huge hotel will wow adults and children alike.
Kids will love the Aquaventure Waterpark, which has thrilling waterslides for teens and gentler rides for little ones. There’s also an
aquarium and the chance to swim with dolphins in Dolphin Bay.
Price: A Deluxe Room costs from £306 a night for a family of four, including breakfast
More info: atlantisthepalm.com
FOUR SEASONS RESORT DUBAI
The new Four Seasons resort opens this October on Jumeirah Beach. As well as the Kids For All Seasons Club, it will have a kids’ splash pool and direct access to the beach. For adults, there’ll be a luxury spa and a rooftop nightclub. Just don’t forget to book a babysitter.
More info: fourseasons.com
AL MUROOJ ROTANA
The Rotana is a just stone’s throw from The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. The whole family can enjoy a day at KidZania, an interactive ‘edutainment’ centre where the kids can pretend to be firefighters, chefs, journalists, or any one of 80 roles, in a replica child-size city.
Price: A Classic Room costs from £88 per night for a family of four. A day at KidZania costs £23
More info: almuroojrotanahoteldubai.com
When to go: September to December, when the weather is still hot by British standards, but not overwhelming. Temperatures can be more than 40C in July and August.