Magic of Dubai
Dubai is quickly becoming a hot destination for travelers. According to Dubai Tourism, 15.8 million people visited in 2017 and Dubai has a goal to have 20 million starting in 2020. The beach town in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sits right on the Persian Gulf and is a city of wealth, commerce, and shopping – so much shopping.
My first visit to Dubai was only for 24 hours. I landed at 7:00 a.m. after a 14-hour flight from Washington, D.C. to what would be my first adventure in this beautiful gulf coast city. The first thing that struck me about Dubai is the architecture: No two buildings look the same. Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa as well as the Burj Al Arab, the famous “sailboat” building which is a luxury hotel.
This trip was unique, as I had just left my job in Washington, D.C. to accompany my husband overseas, and this was my stopover before my final destination. I decided to treat myself to stay at the Armani Dubai hotel. The Armani Dubai occupies 11 floors of the Burj Khalifa and is a five-star hotel experience. As soon as I exited the cab, a team of people were waiting to take my bag, offering a warm welcome and escorting me to the check-in area. Once I arrived at the check-in counter, a woman appeared with a hot towel and fresh juice. I had emailed the hotel before arriving asking for early check-in, and they immediately accommodated. Someone led me to the elevator and escorted me directly to my room. The rooms are all controlled by an iPad, and the guest room attendant showed me all the gadgets and gave me a tour of all the room features and amenities. I am used to someone handing you a key and saying, “next please.”
The Burj Khalifa is 160 stories and houses a hotel, offices, private residences, and a restaurant on the 122nd floor. It neighbors the Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the city. I tried to ignore my jet lag and fit in a little shopping, and I stopped at the kiosk to buy a ticket to “At the Top," which is located inside the mall. I wanted to go up to the top, but there are different packages you can purchase. I decided to buy the “At the Top Sky” which goes to floors 148 + 125 + 124. The 148th floor gives you juice and has a 360-degree view of Dubai from behind glass. However, the cost is about $100. My advice, buy the standard “at the top” which goes to floors 125 + 124 for $36. It offers the same views and has sky patios you can walk out on to take photos.
Travel tip when it comes to dinner time in Dubai: Nowhere opens for dinner before 8:00 p.m. Normally this would not be a problem, but jet lag and an early morning flight had me dining at the hotel bar. However, I had a great view of the fountain show which you should not miss! If you are staying in the downtown district of Dubai, you will not have to leave the shadow of the Burj Khalifa.