United Arab Emirates – Dubai

Even if you only have the span of a layover, definitely give Dubai a go.  My friend and I decided to stopover for two nights on our way to Sri Lanka.  We got a much-needed break from flying and we had excellent adventures exploring the many shades of the colors of Dubai.

With only two days we pre-planned a couple of things.  We knew we wanted to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa.  The world’s tallest building has an observation deck from which you can see the whole of the city until there is nothing left to see but sand.  It’s a singular experience.  We pre-booked tickets online, which I highly recommend.  Check out my blog post to learn more about the Dubai Mall and the Burj.

HOT TIP: We enjoyed excellent Thai food on the outside deck of the Karma Kafe and watched the choreographed fountain show just outside the Dubai Mall after our ascent to the top of the Burj.  The view, atmosphere and food were worth the price tag of our meal (and they have a full and swanky bar).

What trip to the Middle East would be complete without a camel safari?  Again, we pre-booked a dessert camel safari online, complete with round trip hotel transfers, a falcon show and dinner.  It was well worth the money and a great way to learn a bit about Emirate culture, which isn’t easily discovered in a city full of people from somewhere else.  For details check out my blog post.

The only other known factor was where we would stay.  We chose the XVA Art Hotel and it was bliss!  This former home turned hotel is a real charmer.  If you love small, boutique hotels that are intimate and high on style and service, then you will love it too.  Enter to the delightful sounds of music and the smell of delicious food wafting through the air along with the sight of amazing contemporary artwork.  If you are in the market most of the art is for sale, as the hotel is also a gallery. The internet speed is fast, the coffee drinks and food at the XVA Café divine.

HOT TIP: The hotel is located near the Dubai Museum away from the glitz and haute glamour of downtown Dubai, in a neighborhood formerly known as Bastakiya.  If you say that to a cab driver they may have no idea what you mean.  It’s best to have them call the hotel directly, as our driver did, but you can say that it’s off of Al Fahidi at the old post office, near the Dubai Museum, which everyone knows.

The neighborhood is walkable and the XVA a fun place to come home to. Check out the nearby old souq specializing in textiles nearby and head over to the waterfront where you can take a dhow across the creek.

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