Fantastic 6! Discover 6 Of The Best Dubai Locations To Visit Or Stay In, For Business Or Pleasure

Holidays to Dubai are often only a matter of days, what part of Dubai to stay in is often the most significant question.

As we have temporarily relocated to Dubai to explore life as a digital nomad during the UK lockdown, we decided it would be an amazing opportunity to gain a more intimate knowledge of the city. Which meant staying at different hotels in different parts of Dubai every 3-5 days, which might sound arduous but actually enhanced my knowledge of Dubai. Having visited Dubai 6 times in the past for holidays, this is the first time I have seen so much of it.

The exploration of Dubai was also partially driven by us wanting to get to know Dubai better whilst we consider a second home here. The more areas and hotels I explored, the more I realised Dubai is very much a city of cities and it is easy to fall foul of returning to the same hotel or area every visit.

If I am going to experience a few months as a digital nomad, I may as well become a cultural nomad too. So here are 6 areas of Dubai you should consider visiting or staying in, as a digital nomad, business traveller or holidaymaker:

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina, is arguably one of the most ‘happening’ areas to stay in. With other locations, you may be reliant upon the hotel to provide your entertainment and dinning throughout the stay, Dubai Marina has a myriad of dining options, bars, shopping and of course the marina itself if you fancy a yacht trip.

Dubai Marina is home to the Dubai Marina Mall (of course, it is Dubai, there is a mall in every area) but it is also home to Pier 7, 7 floors of fine dining restaurants and a zipline experience. The area is buzzy and vibrant so I can see why it is a popular location for residential properties.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina, which was a modern luxury solace from the buzzy atmosphere in the Marina, the hotel is filled with grand contemporary sculptures one of which ‘The Travellers’ crafted from the story of the Arabic Bedouins stands at, at least 20ft stands out on the walk to rooms. The room we stayed in had a balcony with a stunning view of the marina, mall and the pool; it was a perfect place to work from in the late afternoon and perfect for a glass of wine pre dinner. The Intercontinental Dubai Marina is also home to Michelin-Starred British Chef Jason Atherton’s restaurant Marina Social, where you can soak up some of the Marina atmosphere with delightful food and a stunning backdrop of the waterfront. Back to work, if we must, I found that the Club International, on the roof top of the hotel was a perfect space to get away from it all and get my head down. I spent my afternoons on the rooftop conducting zoom calls with clients with afternoon tea and a freshly squeezed juice.

Downtown Dubai

Home to the worlds largest retail hubs, Dubai Mall and of course Dubai Fountain, which was created by the same people who brought us the famous Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas. The best trick I found here was to find a restaurant on the upper floors of the Dubai Mall that had a balcony, it was a much better view than on the ground. Downtown is home to many things including the Burj Khalifa which is the world’s tallest building!

We stayed at the Hotel Indigo, a brand-new boutique hotel, which was beautifully quirky from the surrealist wallpaper of a camel jumping over a cloud on the hotel room

wall to the art filled walls of every corridor. The hotel had only opened in October 2020, I loved the new hotel feel and smell, but what I loved the most was the hotels decision to focus on bringing in art from local artists and coffee from a local entrepreneur ‘Café Rider’. As an entrepreneur myself I always commend larger brands who support local small business, the little creative touches across the rooms and public areas of the hotel were married beautifully with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Dubai Canal.

The aesthetic of the hotel has clearly been inspired by the history of Dubai Creek, each item from the reception to the 200 pieces of art typify the transformation of Dubai from a trading dock with the hustle and bustle of Dhows and Abra’s (trading boats) to the modern architectural exuberance we see in Dubai today. It is great to see the history magnified through art.

The Dubai Mall is walking distance, but I quickly learnt, no one walks in Dubai, even the mall has a taxi inside.

Jaddaf Waterfront

In very close proximity to Downtown Dubai, around 8 minutes to Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa and 15 minutes from the airport but feels truly remote. The Jaddaf Waterfront is a serenely quiet neighbourhood, the area screams luxury residential, as a beautiful waterfront location. It is also home to the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park with outdoor installations, the UAEs first open-air sculpture park.

The most significant building on this quiet neighbourhood is the Palazzo Versace Hotel, a hotel that is reminiscent of the 16th Century Italian palace, the hotel is

architecturally a masterpiece of traditional luxury. In contrast to the other hotels, the Palazzo Versace felt like ‘old money’, with floral silk bedding and gilt gold touches of Versace style opulence and iconic Medusa heads.

In alignment with the very quiet neighbourhood feel of the Jaddaf Waterfront the Palazzo Versace had a more mature crowd, less hustle and bustle more leisure retreat. It was also an ideal place for meetings with a vast and ornate reception hall, 8 restaurants and landscaped gardens – there is certainly space to impress visitors.

If you have meetings in town and want somewhere quiet to retreat to within close proximity, this location works.

Dubai Festival City (DFC)

Dubai Festival City is a multipurpose destination built alongside a 3.3 kilometre creek, comprised of residential, educational, commercial and social spaces. Including a 2.5 million square foot retail destination, a Guinness World Record holding daily light and water attraction called ‘Imagine’ and of course a mall.

There are only 4 hotels in DFC, we checked into the Intercontinental Festival City, we booked into the Presidential Suite (early birthday celebration) and we were hit with breath taking views of the waterfront of DFC throughout. The sprawling suite had every amenity possible to make for an exceptional experience, the most exciting of

which (in Covid times) was a private steam room inside the suite – modern luxury at it’s finest. Being in Festival City you are surrounding by low rise buildings, other than the 4 hotels, with a much greater chance to mix with locals. Executive lounge at the Intercontinental Festival City was ideal, it provided a perfect space to work away from the suite and network with others during the afternoon tea.

As part of the booking, we had a traditional ‘Abra’ experience, an Abra or Dhow is the traditional wooden boat previously used for the fishing industry in Dubai, it was a great way to see Dubai’s scenic river in a historic transport boat. Across the creek I could also see the new state of the art ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid’ library in Al Jaddaf, 66,000 square metres, due to house 4.5 million printed, digital and audio books – it cost around 1 billion AED ($272k) to construct but sadly doesn’t appear to be open yet.

Dubai Trade Centre District

This area is considered as the heart of the business and financial district, as the Dubai World Trade Centre hosts fairs, exhibitions, concerts and global conventions. Sheikh Zayed Road, the longest road in the UAE at 558km stretching from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah, is great if you want to see a selection of the world’s best supercars zooming back and forth.

A must visit in the area is ‘La Mer’ beach, beachfront location with shopping, dinning and a water park, it is a fun filled destination day and night. There is also a Flamingo park in Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary that locals seem to mention quite regularly, unfortunately closed temporarily due to Covid.

We stayed at the Voco hotel, an upscale hotel who proudly proclaims that their sustainable beds are made from recycled plastic bottles and an aerated water saving shower. With DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) in walking distinct, this hotel definitely feels like it is perfectly located for business meetings. The thing about

being a digital nomad is that you do have to have some down time and the Voco hotel has an award-winning spa where I had an exceptional deep tissue massage to relieve tension after a long day. Followed by dinner in an award winning Indian fine dining restaurant Tresind, voted one of the 50 best restaurants in the world by Discovery.

The Palm Jumeirah Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah is a manmade island (or artificial archipelago, island group), it was made from 7 millions tons of rock blasted from the Hajar Mountains! The $12 billion project took 6 years to build, starting in 2001. I remember being in Dubai in 2002 with my parents when the Palm was still just a concept, it is amazing to stay on it now and look at the destination that it has become.

The palm is now home to The Pointe, the palm fountain which has taken the official title from the Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Fountain. “The two giant floating platforms covers a 14,000 sq meters of sea water, towers at 105 meters height, lights up the sky with magical 3,000 LEDs” with shows from sunset to midnight.

As well as a destination for holidaymakers and digital nomads like myself, The Palm

has 21 hotels. A personal favourite of mine is the Five Palm, a buzzy busy and social hotel. It is a resort with lots to offer from restaurants and a spa to a rooftop bar, there is no shortage of things to do. I covered my experience at the Five in a previous article here. The Five Palm is located at the start of the Palm which gives easy access to ‘mainland’ Dubai.

I also stayed at the Rixos, the only all-inclusive hotel in Dubai, felt very much like a family location and was buzzing with children. Located on the eastern side of the Palm, the Rixos is further from ‘mainland’ Dubai but as you would expect from an all-inclusive resort everything you need is on site. If you can pull yourself away from work or the all-inclusive restaurants, the Paradise beach club is a great location for adults to have some adult time away.

There we are 6 areas, with many more to explore during these nomadic travels.