Monday, 25 February 2019

Our family holiday to Dubai

We've just returned from an amazing week in Dubai over the February half term, and I thought that I'd share some of our highlights!

We spent our first three nights at Atlantis The Palm which is situated at the top of The Palm Jumeirah, a huge artificial palm shaped development off the Dubai coast. Then we spent the following three nights at the Address Hotel, Dubai Mall which is in a much more central position and ideal for sightseeing.

Atlantis The Palm

The Atlantis Hotel really is an amazing hotel, and the decor is absolutely stunning.

Atlantis The Palm lobby glass sculpture

As a resident of the hotel you can enjoy unlimited access to the Lost Chambers Aquarium. We enjoyed it so much that we went every evening, which was a great time to visit as it wasn't too busy. As well as being a home for fish and other sea life, it's themed around the lost city of Atlantis myth which really made it unique. It's filled with models of technology from Atlantis, like communication devices and diving gear, along with explanatory panels - Harry enjoyed looking at all this as much as the fish!

Dubai Lost Kingdom Aquarium tank view

The large aquarium tank forms a central part of the hotel itself, with restaurants and even hotel rooms which have an aquarium wall. Our room was situated above the tank which was beautiful by night as the sharks and rays circled around, and during the day you could watch people diving and snorkelling from above.

Atlantis The Palm view down into aquarium

Residents can also enjoy unlimited access to the Aquaventure Water Park. We are all a bit timid when it comes to fast water rides, but we loved going around the Lazy River on a rubber ring, which isn't lazy at all as the slow stretches are interspersed with splashy rapids sections. There's also a brilliant tube ride where you are taken through a tunnel inside a fish tank.

The hotel has two large swimming pools with plenty of areas to sit and soak up the sunshine. We also spent some time on the beach, although after Mia came running up shrieking having accidentally touched a dead jellyfish that was lying on the sand we were a bit wary of going in the water, and in fact when we had a proper look we realised that there were actually rather a few swimming past. They were dark blue and easy to spot, and the lifeguards didn't seem worried, but it did put me off going in for a paddle after that!

Atlantis The Palm viewed from beach, Dubai

The Address Hotel, Dubai Mall

The only disadvantage of the Atlantis is that you feel very removed from the rest of Dubai, and it's quite a wrench to make the effort to leave it. So I was glad that we had another three nights booked elsewhere and had the chance to see some of the other sights! The Address Hotel was also lovely. We were upgraded to an apartment as there was a delay to check in, so we had a room with kitchen on the 38th floor - a height which made me a little nervous but which had an amazing view right out to the Burj Khalifa!

The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, although I'm not sure how much longer it will be able to claim the title as buildings are getting taller and taller! You need to book tickets in advance, especially if you want to visit at a popular time like sunset, and there is a lot of queuing to get up to the top and then back down again.

View from Burj Khalifa, Dubai

But the views really are amazing from the top and there is plenty to see. We were lucky to choose a clear day to visit and we could see back out to Atlantis and admire all the other high rise structures in the air. We even saw the Dubai Fountains from above!

View from top of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai

We spent a lot of time watching the Dubai Fountains, which really are spectacular. During the evening they run every half an hour, and although the area directly outside the Dubai Mall was very busy it doesn't take long to walk around to find a quieter spot. There are also several restaurants with good views. Buying a ticket to the Burj Khalifa gives you access to a large floating viewing platform which had a great view. We spent two evenings wandering around, punctuated with stops to see the fountain shows.

Dubai Mall fountains at night

The Dubai Mall contains many attractions. Because of our delayed hotel check in we were given complimentary tickets to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo which was also very good, the aquarium itself isn't huge and you can see a lot of it for free from the mall, but the Underwater Zoo had some interesting exhibits, and not all sea life related.

We were also given a few free tickets to VR Park Dubai, a massive Virtual Reality theme park. I've never experienced virtual reality before and it was amazing, although quite intense. This is me finding my way around a labyrinth to shoot skeletons and defeat the minotaur!

VR Park Dubai action shot

We took a trip out to visit the Dubai Miracle Gardens which was a definite highlight of the holiday. It's a flower garden just outside the city centre, with some beautiful flower sculptures and shady areas for relaxing. I enjoyed it so much that I'll be blogging about it separately - I have some beautiful photos to share!

Miracle Gardens, Dubai flowers

Finally we took a trip out one evening to Dubai Festival City, another shopping mall which features a nightly laser light and fountain projection show. There was also a special pirate themed play area and sand pit for the children along with restaurants.

One thing that particularly struck me about Dubai was the number of people (mainly young ladies) posing for instagrammable shots at every opportunity. In fact I got quite annoyed when people kept asking the children to move out of their way in the aquarium so that they could take the perfect picture. But I couldn't help getting Harry to recreate one of the poses I'd seen in front of this large curved screen in the Dubai Mall!

Instagram poses in Dubai

We had a lovely week in Dubai and saw and did so much, we really did have an amazing time!

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