advertisement

Despite recent financial woes, Dubai has one of the world's fastest-growing hotel scenes of any major world city. If the emirate's plans to become a global tourism hub continue to take hold - and they probably will - Dubai is expected to expand from roughly 6 million annual visitors today to more than 15 million within a decade. Authorities envision the need to construct an additional 70,000 to 80,000 hotel rooms to meet this demand.

Most of the hotels we include are officially designated with four or five stars, which should not be confused with the zero- to three-star scale that Frommer's use in these guides. Many of the world's top-name hotels are here, and some with multiple locations: Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Raffles, Hyatt, Hilton, Fairmont, Sheraton, Sofitel, and One&Only, to name a few. The Jumeirah Group, overseen by Dubai's royal family, boasts some of Dubai's best-known resorts and hotels. These include the iconic Burj Al Arab, which is so big it almost eclipses the horizon, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Emirates Towers, and the Arabian palace hotels inside Madinat Jumeirah. Jumeirah Group also owns the desert oasis resort, Bab Al Shams, whose only real competition is Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa. A visit to either is like a trip to heaven.

Most of Dubai's entertainment revolves around the hotel scene. Because hotels are uniquely permitted to hold liquor licenses, the majority of the city's top restaurants and virtually all bars and nightclubs are in hotels. The action is nonstop, except during Ramadan, when all Muslims are required to fast by day and non-Muslims are asked to be respectful of the holy month.

The most extravagant, and expensive, hotels here are the international resorts in so-called "New Dubai," which include Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and the Palm Jumeirah. The beaches here are beautiful - soft golden sand fronts a blue-green sea, with water as warm as the Caribbean. These world-class resorts offer amenities equal to the best establishments in the world. Most of them have spas, health clubs, sports activities, and beach centers with extensive water sports, as well as wide-ranging dining and entertainment options. The Atlantis and Jumeirah Beach Hotel both have their own waterparks.

The hotels lining Sheikh Zayed Road are also very impressive. To lure travelers and ensure that Dubai is internationally recognized as the region's tourist capital, the sleek accommodations lining Dubai's main thoroughfare compete for design, luxury, service, and amenities. Dubai's twin towers, known as Emirates Towers, set the stage for the road's surrounding architectural splendor, and today the hotels and other high-rises spanning the skyline form an urban desert wonder. Business travelers tend to stay on Sheikh Zayed Road, but these hotels also have extensive services for visitors who are on holiday, and they're just minutes away from Jumeirah Beach and the best sights of old Dubai.

One of the city's hottest new addresses lies just off Sheikh Zayed Road in "Downtown Dubai," the massive residential and entertainment complex that includes the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai Mall. Among the outstanding hotels here are The Address and The Palace - Old Town; an Armani hotel is scheduled to open on the lower floors of the Burj Khalifa.

The old city consists of Deira and Bur Dubai. It's not as glitzy as Jumeirah Beach, the Palm Island, or Sheikh Zayed Road, but it has much more local flavor. The best hotels here overlook Dubai Creek, but they're also the most expensive in the area. For travelers seeking more moderate accommodations, Deira and Bur Dubai offer the city's least expensive options. Be cautious when choosing other hotels in the area - some are used for prostitution and are simply not recommended.

Just as the guests to Dubai's hotels seem to come from every corner of the globe, so too do the staff. Service has improved markedly, but the limited English-speaking ability and lack of familiarity with Western expectations among some of the staff occasionally means that service isn't quite up to par with other tourist hubs. This is more the case with inexpensive hotels than with the expensive, international ones. Nevertheless, you can always get by with English. As you might expect, you will find a significant difference between the attention you will receive at a five-star hotel and one more modest in quality and price.

Dubai hotels are expensive and unfortunately getting more so. Hotel prices tend to drop 30 to 40% in summer (late June-Aug), but Dubai is so hot then you may feel like you should be the one paid to stay during those months. There are occasionally discounts around some of the festival periods, as well. Most travelers are likely to find the prices a little more manageable, but still high. I strongly suggest that you check Internet promotional rates before booking. Most hotels will quote rates in dirhams but can easily convert that to dollars, pounds, or euros. Foreign credit cards are widely accepted. All rates are subject to a 10% municipality fee and 10% service charge.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.