Imagine a holiday where you can walk on gorgeous white sand beaches, enjoy stunning views from the top of skyscrapers, dine at the world's highest restaurant, go for a heart-pumping desert safari, as well as explore by-lanes of the old city and vibrant souks - and all of this in one city! No, I am not describing any fictitious place from a novel but a real city that probably has the best of all worlds. Don't believe me? Then book your flight tickets to Dubai and see it yourself.
Dubai, probably one of the bustling cities in the Middle East, is the best example of the co-existence of old and new in one place. On one side, you have a modern city -- with a cosmopolitan vibe -- that never sleeps, and then on the other side, exists an old city steeped in tradition, beautiful culture and an infectious artsy vibe. Nicknamed as 'the world capital', Dubai is a dazzling jewel in the UAE crown and is much more than its city-sized malls, bustling souks and white sandy beaches. The city is also a fabulous place to dine and wine in style! Once you've soaked up endless sunshine and enjoyed the powder-soft beaches, you can enliven your evenings (or noons) at cocktail bars, sushi bars, classy restaurants and bespoke cafes. The vibrant bars, clubs and pubs in Dubai show how scintillating the city nightlife can be.
Earlier this month, I decided to go on a gastronomical trip to Dubai. It did not just make me fall in love with the city's culinary offerings all over again but gave me a new perspective about how food is celebrated in this ultra-modern city of the UAE.
Highlights Of The Tour -
Sofitel Dubai Downtown - My Home For 4 Days
As I arrived, I checked into Sofitel Dubai Downtown hotel. A luxury property amidst the tall and majestic buildings of Dubai's downtown area, Sofitel is just a 10-minute-walk from Burj Khalifa. Panoramic views of the city, Sheikh Zayed Road and the coastline from my room were absolutely Instagram-worthy and guaranteed to incite envy in those back home. Rooms in Sofitel are well planned with geometric designs and a delightful pop of colours. But what stood out for me was the king-sized bathroom that ran parallel to the room that was impressively large. However, my favourite spot was the yellow swivel chair by the window that was big enough to be able to curl up in.
The access to the famed Dubai Mall from the hotel through an air-conditioned skywalk is a big bonus!
Lunch At Bread Street Kitchen, Atlantis, The Palm
I won't shy away from saying that dining at one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants was the top things to do on my checklist. The afternoon started just right! I was warmly greeted by Mary Jo (from the PR team of Atlantis) and the fantastic staff of the restaurant. I was promptly seated on one of the tables closest to the bar. I was offered some mocktails and I knew that I was in good hands when I had the first sip of my drink. I ordered 39 Palm Street and it was utterly refreshing and wasn't overly sweet (unlike most of the mocktails in Dubai). The food at BSK is about traditional British fare with some of the celebrity chef's signature dishes. My recommendations: Begin with Spicy Tuna Tartare, followed by Tagliolini with Lobster. For mains, go for Pan Seared Salmon which comes with creamy green peas and smoked duck. However, the dessert is still a star at the restaurant with the sticky toffee banana pudding hitting just the right chord with its banana bread flavours and mousse-like texture.
Cocktails At White Beach - Atlantis, The Palm
Nestled on the sandy shores of the Atlantis, The Palm, this pretty looking club is the right place to sit back, unwind and enjoy some interesting cocktails as you watch the world go by. Not only will you be met by a dizzying array of cocktails in this classy cocktail library, but you can also discover the art of making them, too. I got a chance to make my own cocktails too - and it was exhilarating! You will meet Nareg Wartanian - the mixologist who will teach you the art of making perfect cocktails.
You'll have plenty of cocktails to choose from at White Beach, but White Peach, Hakuna Macoco, Mermaid Tail and Spiritzual are favourites.
Dine Under The Stars - Platinum Desert Experience
No trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing the iconic desert safari. Once you've set off, you'll reach a private retreat of one of Dubai's Royal family where you'll be greeted with Arabic tea and dates (khajoor), followed by a lavish six-course menu. Here you will dine at your cabana surrounded by rolling sand dunes. Gently lit by candles, these cabanas (dotting a small pond in the centre) offered a truly magical experience! It's so private and yet so public.
The entire menu is prepared fresh by the chefs. In addition to loads of interesting starters and main course dishes, their dessert options are also quite an attraction. After winding up the elaborated meal (tip: go empty stomach), I made my way to the lounge area. The Arabian feel was even more evident here, thanks to the aromatic shishas, classic interiors and splendid hospitality. The evening concluded on a high note with the mesmerising 'Flaming Sands of Arabia' fire show - which also makes for some interesting photographs!
Breakfast At The World's Highest Restaurant - At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa
I have been to Dubai more times than I can count, but for some reasons, I had never been to the top of the Burj Khalifa. I have friends and colleagues who have been to the top of the Burj Khalifa and describing their experience as "absolutely spectacular"; so this time when I saw 'breakfast at Burj Khalifa' in my itinerary, I wanted to see what the hype was all about!
I entered through the Armani Hotel lobby that took me up to the restaurant, walking past the subtle refinement of the hotel's elegant monochrome palette. After changing two elevators (and the unpreventable ear-popping feeling), I reached the 123rd floor and was told to make my way down an elegant helical staircase that took me straight to At.mosphere. This is the highest restaurant in the world with floor-to-ceiling windows offering fabulous, 360-degree vistas of the Dubai skyline - one of At.mosphere's most appealing features. I seated myself at the table overlooking the Dubai Fountain - I glanced at the views of the city from an unusual height, its stunning high-rises and ocean stretching as far as I can see.
The staff is quite attentive and warm. They served me the At.mosphere's signature coffee with edible gold, which was as opulent as the morning spent in the world's tallest building with surreal views. Then came the breakfast cold platter with a selection of breads, served with herb and plain butter. I indulged in the At.mosphere signature breakfast menu - a decadent list of dishes all reasonably portioned and brought out at regular intervals. So, what's it like to dine at the world's highest restaurant, you ask? I would say, it's "absolutely spectacular!" The best time to visit At.mospehere, in my opinion, is during breakfast hours or lunchtime - but make sure you make a reservation for 1 pm for lunch so that you can witness the stunning fountain show at the Dubai Mall from the top!
Other Highlights Of The Trip:
Bedazzled By La Perle
Imagine a live show involving a cast of 65 performing artists engaged in mind-boggling aerial, acrobatic and aquatic acts - that's La Perle for you. An interactive theatrical experience set to rival similar shows in Paris and Las Vegas, La Perle is a brainchild of the world-famous theatre artiste Franco Dragone, featuring death-defying stunts sure to bedazzle the audience time and time again.
Located in the beautiful Souk Al Bahar, Time Out Market Dubai is the world's first food and cultural market based on editorial curation. The Market offers an incredible taste of the city featuring 17 of Dubai's award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, home-grown local favourites and three stunning bars.
Top Golf Dubai
If you are looking for more than just shopping, food and culture in Dubai, then visit Top Golf Dubai. Located in Dubai's Emirates Hills, the towering three-level, Top Golf Dubai comes with the most picturesque golf courses in the world. You can safely enjoy the high-tech interactive games and some friendly competition along with great music, a chef-driven menu, hand-crafted beverages and more!
After spending a week in Dubai, I can see why people love it here so much – where else can you have such different types of holiday in just a few days?! There aren't many places around the world where you can do that!
About Shubham BhatnagarYou can often find Shubham at a small authentic Chinese or Italian restaurant sampling exotic foods and sipping a glass of wine, but he will wolf down a plate of piping hot samosas with equal gusto. However, his love for homemade food trumps all.