For most first-time visitors, traveling to Dubai conjures up images of glittering glass and concrete skyscrapers, slick sports cars, massive shopping malls, and posh five-star luxury hotels- all with prices to match. So it isn’t surprising that often these are the main questions that I get from those planning to travel to Dubai:
“Where to stay in Dubai?” or “How expensive is Dubai accommodation?” or even “What are my options for Dubai accommodation?”
I think a lot of potential visitors are intimated by the idea that all accommodation in Dubai is in luxury hotels and staying there can result in a huge dent in their trip budgets. Yet others are wondering about the best place to stay in Dubai, depending on who they’re visiting with, individual preferences and how they plan to get around. If you’re visiting Dubai soon, or to attend Expo 2020, don’t worry about pricey accommodation in Dubai.
So as an insider who was born and raised and still lives in Dubai, I decided to write up this guide to Dubai accommodation to dispel any myths and misconceptions about prices, neighborhoods and the options you have when you decide where to stay in Dubai.
By the way you can join my Dubai Travel Planning Group on Facebook where you’ll find plenty of free resources, practical information and insider tips about cool restaurants, the best cafes in Dubai, photo-worthy spots, attractions and things to do in and around Dubai, and cool day trips from Dubai.
I’ve read far too many other Dubai guides that were clearly written by someone who doesn’t have a clue- a few even label the neighborhood I grew up in and still live around as “dangerous”, simply because not a lot of white people live there, and that sort of definitely pissed me off.
Yet others say that most hotels in Dubai are Arabic style. Umm, no. That’s not true. Maybe that was true in the 90s, but that’s definitely not true today. Some posts have their locations all wrong- Dubai Marina isn’t the same as Palm Jumeirah or Jumeirah, and Jumeirah isn’t the same as Jumeirah Beach Residence, and no the Palazzo Versace is not in Bur Dubai (a simple Google Search tells you that).
That’s why I’ve included Dubai neighborhood maps in this post that show you surrounding tourist attractions and hotels plus apartments.
The first thing- the most important thing- you should know about Dubai is that this amazing city is so much better because of how multicultural and cosmopolitan it is.
You’ll see every color of skin and hear so many languages on the metro, and that makes me super proud of the city I call home. If you come from a city that doesn’t have so much diversity, then you’ll definitely enjoy Dubai a lot more if you visit with an open mind.
You can also read my guides on how to dress in Dubai as a tourist.
As someone who lives here and has actually seen entire neighborhoods develop, I’m also well placed to advise you about which part of town might best suit your needs, depending on how you plan to get around. Here’s my guide to getting to Dubai city center from Dubai Airport.
Wondering Where to Stay in Dubai? But First, How Expensive is Dubai Accommodation?
While it’s true that Dubai isn’t exactly cheap, especially when it comes to nightlife and spas and fine dining and all of that other fancy stuff, your opinion of how expensive it is actually depends on a few things such as:
A.) Where you’re comparing it to- so Dubai is of course expensive if you compare it to Yerevan or Tbilisi but is it more expensive than Milan or Florence or Stockholm or Ibiza? Not necessarily. Hotels in Dubai are way cheaper than hotels in Stockholm or Milan in the same category, and better value for money.
Dubai accommodation isn’t expensive and there are plenty of budget options available. In fact, there are apartments with kitchenettes and pool access available for a price per night that I pay for hostels in European cities.
B.) Where in Dubai you’ve been spending your money- which neighborhood in Dubai are you staying in? You’ll end up paying way more in a swankier neighborhood and less than half that in a residential one or in the older parts of town. Unsurprisingly then, you’ll find that the apartments and cheap hotels in Dubai in areas like old Dubai and Dubai Marina are cheaper than in Palm Jumeirah.
In case you’re traveling to Dubai on a budget, these are the best things to do in Dubai and places to visit on a budget.
C.) The time of year you’re visiting Dubai. You might know that summer temperatures in Dubai can be ridiculously high- so the summer months are low-season which means hotel rates are way cheaper. The winter months from November to February are peak season for tourists and hotels can be expensive.
Here’s my guide to the best time to visit Dubai– to know what to expect and how to get the best of both- cheaper hotel rates and good weather.
Join my Dubai Travel Planning Group on Facebook where for practical information and insider tips to help you plan your trip to Dubai. Click on the image below to join.
Where to Stay in Dubai: A Complete Guide to Dubai Accommodation
To help you pick the best place to stay in Dubai that’s right for you, I’ve broken down this guide into various sections to walk you through the different neighborhoods, options for different preferences and budgets. At the end of each section is a map with all the information, you can even save it and use it to plan your trip.
How to Pick the Best Place to Stay in Dubai: A Guide to Neighborhoods in Dubai
The first step to deciding the best area to stay in Dubai is to know a bit about the different neighborhoods and get a sense of whether or not they’d work for you. You should know that Dubai is not the kind of city where you can get around only by walking. It’s not like European cities with one city center.
Instead, there are different neighborhoods and each of these has a bunch of things to do and places to visit plus restaurants, cafés and bars etc. Some neighborhoods in particular have more tourist attractions, nightlife and entertainment than other, more residential ones.
So regardless of which part of town you’re in, you’ll likely have to take the metro or a taxi or Uber to a few other areas to sightsee, unless you’re visiting only for two days- in which case, you should pick a neighborhood to stay in that’s close to the sights and attractions you’re most interested in.
When you’re thinking about the best areas to stay in Dubai, take all of this into consideration.
Old Dubai Neighborhoods: Bur Dubai, Mankhool, Karama, Deira, Satwa & Jumeirah
Old Dubai, as you’ve likely guessed, refers to the oldest parts of the city- neighborhoods such as Bur Dubai (where I grew up), Mankhool (where I live now), Karama, Deira and Satwa, that were around when I was growing up in Dubai in the 90s.
In these neighborhoods, you’ll still find shops selling clothes, shoes, electronics, souvenirs (not in the malls but like proper stand-alone shops with lower prices), tailoring shops (where you can get custom suits made for a bargain), cobblers, old-school men’s barbershops, traditional bakeries and butcheries, street food and casual restaurants.
It’s also here that you’ll find the oldest part of Dubai-that is today the heritage district of Bastakiya- once home to wealthy merchant families, with traditional style buildings made of coral and mud, with barjeel wind towers. Today, these buildings house museums, artists’ studios and workshops, cultural centers, and heritage-style guesthouses.
As such, in my opinion, old Dubai is the cultural heart of the city. Think not so much skyscrapers and posh hotels as mosques and museums, markets and alleys, and life along the old Dubai creek.
While they’re older than other parts of the city, these neighborhoods are not crumbling or old-fashioned or any of that. Dubai is very well maintained everywhere and you’ll find the same level of infrastructure, cleanliness, and standards here as in new Dubai.
While much of Jumeirah is home to Emirati families, the rest of old Dubai is home to a largely South Asian population (residents who come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka) as well as people from the Philippines and other Middle Eastern countries (such as Iran, Jordan, Lebanon).
Why? Because the costs of rental properties are lower here than in new Dubai, plus a lot of these families have lived here for decades (because they were among the first expats to live in Dubai and these are the oldest neighborhoods).
Sights around Old Dubai
Important sights and tourist attractions around old Dubai include the heritage district of Bastakiya in Al Fahidi, the creekside retail district of Al Seef, and the Textile Souk.
Just an abra boat ride across the creek in Deira, you’ll find the Gold Souk, Spice souk and other souks. The Dubai Frame also isn’t too far away. The Dubai Mall is a 15 to 25 minute metro ride away, depending on where in old Dubai you are. La Mer, with its beach, and dining and entertainment options, is a short taxi ride away. If you decide to stay in Jumeirah, then you might be a few minutes’ walk away from the beach.
Where to Stay in Old Dubai
Best Budget Hotels in Old Dubai
Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef (Bur Dubai)
Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef has a great location in the lively Al Seef area by the creek and is a new hotel by the renowned Jumeirah group- so you can expect high quality. There’s a swimming pool and in-house restaurant but tons of dining options are just outside all along the creek in Al Seef. All the old Dubai tourist attractions are at walking distance, as is the closest metro station. Suitable for solo women, families and couples.
City Seasons Towers Hotel Bur Dubai (Bur Dubai)
City Seasons Towers Hotel Bur Dubai offers spacious rooms, plus an outdoor pool and gym. The hotel is also good for Indian tourists on a budget- there are several Indian restaurants around, all at walking distance. The Indian neighborhood of Meena Bazaar and Bur Dubai are a metro ride away (1-2 stops) and the metro station is just outside. BurJuman Mall is right next door. Suitable for families, couples and solo women.
Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai (Bur Dubai)
At Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai, you can stay in a private room (ensuite double or twin) with refrigerator and tea and coffee maker, get access to a swimming pool and the hotel’s in-house restaurants and sports bar. Tons of supermarkets and restaurants around. Also close to Indian neighborhoods. Good bus and metro connection.
J5 RIMAL Hotel Apartments (Deira)
For a budget hotel, J5 RIMAL Hotel Apartments in Deira is great value for money- there’s a pool, gym, sauna and Jacuzzi and rooms come with kitchenettes, living areas, and tea and coffee making facilities. The nearest metro station is at walking distance. Suitable for families and couples.
Novotel Deira City Center (Deira)
A stone’s throw away from Deira City Center, Novotel Deira City Center offers luxurious rooms, a heated pool, tennis courts and a kids’ pool. There is an in-house restaurant and lounge, and plenty of other options around in the area. You can easily walk to the Deira City Center metro station. Suitable for families, couples and solo women.
Ibis Styles Dubai Jumeira (Jumeirah)
If you like the idea of staying in residential Jumeirah and don’t mind not having a metro station nearby, then the Ibis Styles Dubai Jumeira is a good budget hotel in Dubai that offers rooms with modern amenities and tea and coffee maker, as well as a pool and in-house restaurant.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation in Old Dubai
BurJuman Arjaan By Rotana (Mankhool)
BurJuman Arjaan By Rotana offers apartments with private balconies and kitchenettes with microwave and refrigerator, plus kitchenware so you can cook your meals. There’s a rooftop pool and BurJuman mall is right next door. Plenty of dining options and supermarkets around and you can walk around the area to the heritage quarter of Bastakiya and the Dubai Museum. The metro station is right here, so it’s easy to get around. Suitable for families, couples, and solo women.
Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai (Oud Metha)
Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai is located in Oud Metha, Bur Dubai and offers apartments with kitchenette, refrigerator and microwave. There’s a pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, tennis courts, in-house restaurant and pub. You can walk to the Dubai Healthcare City metro station. Suitable for families, couples and solo women.
Swissotel Al Ghurair (Deira)
Located on a busy street in Deira, Swissotel Al Ghurair offers luxurious rooms plus sauna, gym, spa and swimming pool and two in-house restaurants at what could well be a luxury, not mid-range hotel. Excellent value for money, and the nearest metro station is a 10-minute walk.
Best Luxury Hotels in Old Dubai
The Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah is one of my favorite hotels in Dubai for many reasons. Other than the beautiful design that channels the vibes of an Asian sanctuary in a lobby that glitters from the crystal and light canopies of bronze trees, the service here is friendly, the dining options fantastic and the views- both the sea and city views over Jumeirah, are some of my favorite in the city.
The hotel has a private beach, vibrant Mediterranean-inspired rooms, and a spa and dining options include Japanese steakhouse Netsu and modern Portuguese restaurant Tasca by chef Jose Avillez. The best part? It’s close to both old and new Dubai, so you can get around by taxi, Uber or bus.
Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights Residences (Bur Dubai)
At the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights Residences, expect five-star rooms with amazing views over the Dubai Creek and kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave and kitchenware. There’s a gym, sauna and swimming pool plus many restaurants and bars in-house. The metro station is a short walk away.
Jumeirah Creekside Hotel (Al Garhoud)
Jumeirah Creekside Hotel is a 15-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, and features luxurious rooms, a wellness center, in-house restaurants and bars, pool, tennis and squash courts. The Irish Village is right next door, and is great to get a few beers al fresco when the weather is pleasant.
Raffles Dubai (Oud Metha)
Raffles Dubai offers luxurious rooms plus a Turkish steam bath, sauna, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, as well as beauty center. There’s an in-house Japanese restaurant called TOMO. It’s a 15-20 minute walk to the metro station.
Park Hyatt Dubai (Deira)
Located along the Dubai Creek and a stone’s throw away from Deira City Center, the Park Hyatt Dubai offers a luxurious stay with fabulous creek views. Other than a Jacuzzi, sauna, beauty center, swimming pool and gym, there’s a golf course, as well as several restaurants and bars in-house.
Pros of Staying in Old Dubai
- Easy metro connections in Bur Dubai, Mankhool, Karama and Deira, so you can get around Dubai on the cheap and visit the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah etc. You don’t have to rent a car to get around, and the occasional taxi will suffice.
- You’ll find plenty of budget accommodation- from affordable serviced hotel apartments to budget hotels with pools, spas and gyms.
- You’re surrounded by affordable restaurants and cafes, as well as street food. If you’re eating on a budget, there are excellent Indian, Lebanese, Asian, Pakistani, Filipino and other restaurants in Bur Dubai, Karama, Satwa and Deira. From the best kebabs in Dubai to the best biryani to authentic hot pots, you’ll find it all here on the cheap. By the way, there are also fancy fine dining restaurants in these areas, so don’t assume you can’t go fancy here.
- If you’re traveling with a family or simply like to cook your own food while staying in an apartment with a kitchenette, then you should know that grocery shopping in old Dubai is cheaper than in new Dubai. One, there are small grocery stores that can be cheaper than big hypermarkets. Two, shopping at Carrefour in old Dubai is cheaper than shopping at Carrefour in new Dubai- you’re likely to find cheaper priced Indian tomatoes in the former but not necessarily in the latter.
- Old Dubai is the best place to stay in Dubai for an Indian tourist who prefers eating Indian food when it’s easily available on vacation. A lot of Indian visitors are vegetarian or Jain (don’t eat garlic, onion or root vegetables) and as such prefer Indian food from vegetarian-only restaurants. You’ll only find these in Bur Dubai, Mankhool and Karama that is heaven for reasonably priced Indian food. Plus Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken in these parts, in addition to English.
- If you want to stay close to the beach, look for options along Jumeirah beach or somewhere around in Jumeirah that’s walking distance or a bus ride away from one of Jumeirah’s beaches. There are apartments as well as hotels available.
Cons of Staying in Old Dubai
- It’s my advice to dress a bit more modestly in old Dubai to be respectful and to blend in- so no hot shorts, backless blouses, micro-miniskirts or see through clothing- that I anyway don’t recommend for anywhere except the beach in Dubai.
- You’ve got to be smart about which part of old Dubai to stay in- but more on that later in this post. For example, parts of Deira can feel extremely crowded and have bad traffic jams during rush hours- best to avoid if you plan on taking taxis, but okay if you don’t mind taking the metro (which is crowded during rush hours).
Map of Old Dubai Neighborhoods, Tourist Attractions and Hotels & Apartments
Click on the icon at the top left to see a list of places marked in the map. You can also save this map and use it.
Wondering what to wear in Dubai? Here’s my ultimate guide to the Dubai dress code.
Downtown Dubai and Business Bay
Comfortably between old Dubai and Dubai Marina, but also considered as part of new Dubai, Downtown Dubai and Business Bay are the areas around the Dubai Mall. They’re home to swanky residences, hotels, entertainment and nightlife, as well as the Dubai Opera. You’ll find plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants here, from moderately priced to fancier options.
This area is perfect in that it’s central and easy to get around old and new Dubai by metro. Plus the Dubai Mall has plenty of sights and attractions such as the Dubai Fountain, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Aquarium and lots of shopping. When the weather is good, it’s lovely to walk around here. You’ll find some hotels in this area can be on the pricier side, but hey you’re likely to have views of the Burj Khalifa!
Sights around Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
The Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Aquarium, Burj Khalifa, Citywalk, La Mer, and Dubai Frame.
Where to Stay in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
Best Budget Hotels in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
Rove Downtown Dubai offers comfortable rooms, a trendy restaurant, social vibe perfect for solo travelers, a cinema and a rooftop pool. There are laundry facilities and mini-golf. You can walk to the Dubai Mall and other attractions in Downtown Dubai as well as to the Dubai Mall metro station.
Millennium Central Downtown offers modern rooms, access to a spa, gym, sauna and rooftop pool in Downtown Dubai.
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
The Manzil Downtown Dubai is located in the liveliest part of Downtown Dubai, just next to the Dubai Mall. Rooms are modern and comfortable and guests can use the swimming pool and sauna. There’s a lovely Mediterranean restaurant set in a courtyard and plenty of options for dining and nightlife around. The metro station is an easy walk away.
The Vida Downtown Dubai also an easy walk to the Dubai Mall, attractions in Downtown Dubai, restaurants and nightlife around and the metro station, offers modern rooms and a rooftop pool with cabanas (great Friday brunch here), sauna and gym. There are two in-house restaurants to choose from.
Best Luxury Hotels in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
Palace Downtown Hotel, feels like a palace out of an Arabian fairytale that sits right across a lake from the Burj Khalifa. Just less than 5 minutes walk are the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai Mall and its attractions. This is a five-star hotel with a swimming pool, spa, wellness center, a lakeside bar and three restaurants including the incredibly romantic Thai restaurant Thiptara.
If you like the idea of staying in a luxury hotel in the world’s tallest skyscraper, then look no further than Armani Hotel Dubai in the Burj Khalifa. The hotel is modern and super slick and has several acclaimed restaurants and bars including Japanese, Indian and Italian restaurants. Expect the fancy stuff such as limousine service, views over the Dubai Fountain, and Armani Spa. There’s a swimming pool, gym, Turkish steam bath, Jacuzzi and sauna. It’s walking distance to the Dubai Mall and Dubai Opera and well, you’re an elevator ride away from the observatory at the Burj Khalifa!
Taj Dubai is an ultra-luxurious hotel from the famous Indian Taj Hotels group. Expect excellent service, luxurious rooms, spa, gym, pool and sauna and great views of the Downtown area. There’s a pillow menu in each room. The in-house restaurants are great, and other dining and nightlife options are around. It’s a short drive to the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
Pros of Staying in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
- Good metro connectivity to get to old and new Dubai neighborhoods, sights and attractions.
- Close to dining, nightlife and entertainment in and around the Dubai Mall.
- Views of the Burj Khalifa.
Cons of Staying in Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
- You might need to take taxis if you aren’t close to the metro- that can be expensive.
- You won’t find a lot of cheap dining options here except in the food courts in the Dubai Mall.
- There’s no beachfront accommodation here.
Map of Downtown Dubai Tourist Attractions and Hotels and Apartments
Click on the icon at the top left to see a list of places marked in the map. You can also save this map and use it.
Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC, Mall of the Emirates and around
If you want to stay between old and new Dubai and want great metro connectivity, then pick a spot along Sheikh Zayed Road, or around the World Trade Center, DIFC and the Mall of the Emirates areas. These areas are pretty mixed in terms of the nationalities that live and work around here. This same diversity is found in the dining and takeout options, in terms of cuisines and budget suitability.
You’ll find a variety of accommodation options here with something for every budget- from serviced hotel apartments to five-star luxury hotels. Personally, I feel like you can’t really go wrong with this location as it’s so central and well-connected. Plus if you’re combining business with leisure and need to attend meetings in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) or a conference at the World Trade Center, but also want some place to eat and party that’s easy to walk back from- then this is the best choice in terms of location.
Sights around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC and Mall of the Emirates
The Dubai Museum, souks of old Dubai, Al Seef, World Trade Center, the Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera, Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Frame, CityWalk, La Mer, Dubai International Financial Center, Kite Beach, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates are all a few minutes’ away by public transport.
Where To Stay Around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC and Mall of the Emirates
Best Budget Hotels Around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC and Mall of the Emirates
The Apartments Dubai World Trade Centre Hotel Apartments (World Trade Center)
The Apartments Dubai World Trade Centre Hotel Apartments has quite a few things going for it- it’s very affordable, location is great with restaurants, bars, café and nightlife around, and close to a metro station. It’s between old and new Dubai so it’s perfect to get around the city by metro. There’s a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, tennis courts and in-house restaurant. Also perfect to attend conferences and meetings around World Trade Center.
Novotel Suites Dubai Mall of the Emirates (near Mall of the Emirates)
In addition to comfortable modern rooms with kitchenette, guests at the Novotel Suites Dubai Mall of the Emirates have access to a rooftop pool, tennis courts, gym, Jacuzzi and sauna. There’s an in-house restaurant but tons of other options around and in the Mall of the Emirates that you can walk to. Metro connection just by the mall.
Centro Barsha by Rotana (near Mall of the Emirates)
Centro Barsha by Rotana is a budget hotel run by the trusted Rotana brand. Comfortable rooms with modern amenities and large windows, plus in-house restaurant. Walking distance to nearest metro station and Mall of the Emirates where you’ll find Ski Dubai.
Best Mid-Range Hotels Around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC and Mall of the Emirates
The skyscraper building of Gevora Hotel is one of the most eye-catching buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road. The location is great- close to the metro and tons of dining and nightlife options at walking distance or one of two stops by metro. Conveniently located between old and new Dubai. There’s a Jacuzzi, pool, kids’ pool, sauna, fitness center, and business center. In any other major international city, you’d be paying way more for this location and this level of luxury.
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road)
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai offers luxurious rooms with fantastic skyscraper views and five-star facilities such as sauna, pool, and spa. There are great in-house restaurants and bars, as well as a nightclub, and other dining, nightlife and entertainment options are a short walk away. Few minutes’ walk to the metro station.
Villa Rotana (Sheikh Zayed Road)
Villa Rotana is a luxurious mid-range hotel that offers apartment-style rooms with kitchenette. There’s a sauna and rooftop pool plus you can opt for a meal plan. You can get around by metro- the closest station is a few minutes’ walk.
Best Luxury Hotels Around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC and Mall of the Emirates
Shangri La Hotel Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road)
The luxurious Shangri La Hotel Dubai sees guests like Jackie Chan stay here when they visit Dubai. There are several restaurants in-house and many more around, as well as a pool, gym, and sauna and bar. Great connection to metro in a few minutes’ walk. The Dubai Mall is a metro stop away or about 3-4 minutes by cab.
The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre is a five-star luxury hotel in the heart of DIFC. Rooms are modern with in-room dining area and a kitchen. There’s a swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and spa with Turkish bath. There are several in-house dining options as well as many restaurants and bars around in DIFC. Good connection to metro in a few minutes’ walk.
V Hotel Dubai Curio Collection by Hilton (Sheikh Zayed Road)
V Hotel Dubai Curio Collection by Hilton offers modern five-star accommodation, along with a rooftop pool, gym, trendy in-house restaurants and bars plus a nightclub.
Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel (near MOE)
The five-star Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel offers luxurious rooms plus access to a rooftop pool, terrace and sauna. Easy short walk to Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai and the metro station.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates (near MOE)
Right next door to the Mall of the Emirates and with an indoor connection to the mall and Ski Dubai, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates offers luxurious rooms and ski chalets with views of Ski Dubai. There are two infinity pools, fitness center, tennis courts, spa, as well as ski school and ski equipment hire. There are several restaurants and bars in-house, and tons of other options in Mall of the Emirates. The metro station is just outside.
Pros of Staying around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC, Mall of the Emirates etc.
- Excellent and frequent metro connections to get around Dubai. Not too far away from old and new Dubai tourist attractions and areas of interest.
- Close to DIFC and World Trade Center so it’s convenient for business travelers.
- Variety of accommodation options to suit every budget.
- Feels very cosmopolitan and there are great options for dining with a variety of cuisines and budget suitability.
- Plenty of bars, pubs, and nightclubs- so it’s great for nightlife.
- If you’re around Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai and other attractions at the mall plus kids’ activities are just next door.
Cons of Staying around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC, Mall of the Emirates etc.
- There’s no beachfront accommodation here.
Map of Tourist Attractions and Hotels around Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Center, DIFC, Mall of the Emirates and around
Click on the icon at the top left to see a list of places marked in the map. You can also save this map and use it.
New Dubai Neighborhoods: Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR, Palm Jumeirah & Bluewaters Island
New Dubai can easily be described as the prettiest, shiniest and newest part of Dubai and includes Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and the manmade islands of Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island, among other areas. Western expats, most of who work for multinational companies in Dubai tend to live, work and hang out around these areas.
Here you’ll find skyscrapers, waterfront promenades, beaches, malls, and plenty of options for dining, nightlife and entertainment. If budget is not a concern, then you can totally live life king-sized here because this is the Dubai of boozy brunches and beach clubs and yacht marina views and all things that the rest of the world has come to associate Dubai with.
Luxury hotels here leave no stone unturned; there are gold-infused spa treatments, private butlers, limousine transfers, Michelin-starred chefs heading up restaurants, private pool villas, and the chance to race sports cars.
Some parts of new Dubai are better connected to the metro than others- such as Dubai Marina and JLT, while you can get to JBR with a metro plus tram connection.
Dubai Marina is among the best places to stay in Dubai and is great area with a canal, yacht marina, and a promenade that sees cyclists, runners and fitness lovers exercising along the water. There are also many restaurants and cafés here to dine al fresco and people watch. Bars and nightlife are at your doorstep here, as is the Dubai Marina Mall with shopping and a cinema. The beach in JBR is just a tram ride away. The metro connection makes it easy to get around the rest of Dubai.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is both a residential area and also great for leisure activities, dining and nightlife with several hotels and a mall with a cinema- but it takes a while to get to old Dubai or elsewhere from here as the only public transportation is by tram that connects to the metro in Dubai Marina. Other than that, JBR is good to walk around in, especially on the main promenade called the JBR Walk.
Also, you’re more likely to find mid-range options for accommodation and dining in JLT, Dubai Marina and JBR than on the Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters islands.
Palm Jumeirah is one of the best places to stay in Dubai if you’re looking for beachfront hotels and apartments. But Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island don’t have metro connections, so you’d need a car to get around or have to take taxis. They’re also far from the main sights and attractions. However, they’re ideal if you want to stay at a beach resort that feels like it’s far away from the city. A taxi ride to tourist attractions and sights should be around 20 minutes, so in theory, it’s not that far.
Sights around New Dubai
Dubai Marina Mall, Palm Jumeirah, Ibn Battuta Mall, Atlantis, Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Ain Dubai, The Beach Mall, JBR Walk, Bluewaters Island, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Bollywood Parks, Wild Wadi.
There are other places to stay in Dubai apart from the ones I’ve mentioned above such as City Walk, Dubai Festival City, Mirdif, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Al Barsha.
You’ll find hotels and apartments in these areas as well, and some of these are close to the places I have mentioned- think of them as extensions to my list. For example, City Walk in Al Safa is close to Jumeirah, and Barsha, Dubai Internet City and Media City are close to Dubai Marina and JLT (just 1-2 metro stops away).
Where To Stay in New Dubai: Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR, Palm Jumeirah & Bluewaters Island
These are my picks for Dubai accommodation around different areas in new Dubai neighborhoods.
Best Budget Hotels in New Dubai: Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR, Palm Jumeirah & Bluewaters Island
To stay in lively Dubai Marina on a budget, consider getting an apartment at Marina View Hotel Apartment. You’ll have access to a pool, sauna and gym, as well as tennis courts. All rooms come with kitchenettes, microwaves and refrigerators. There’s an in-house restaurant and other dining options in Dubai Marina are a short walk away, as is the nearest metro station.
Guests of the Movenpick Hotel at Jumeirah Lakes Towers can stay in spacious rooms with access to a Jacuzzi, sauna and swimming pool, plus fitness center, lounge and restaurant. There is metro connection as well.
At the Wyndham Dubai Marina, expect modern rooms with skyscraper views and tea and coffee makers in a residential but also lively area. In house restaurants are available but tons of dining and nightlife close by. You can walk to the beautiful Dubai Marina promenade and also to the closest metro station.
Best Mid-range Hotels in New Dubai: Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR, Palm Jumeirah & Bluewaters Island
The JA Ocean View Hotel offers spacious rooms with private balconies, most with ocean views, plus a sauna and swimming pool along the JBR Walk. Plenty of dining and nightlife options on the JBR Walk and easy walk to Dubai Marina in good weather, plus the JBR public beach is also a few minutes’ walk away.
To stay in Dubai Marina at walking distance from the Dubai Marina Mall, metro station and the Marina Walk, consider a stay at La Verda Suites & Villas Dubai Marina. You’ll have access to a gym, pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and terrace. All apartments come with a kitchen and private balcony. There are in-house restaurants and you can walk to the closest metro station in a few minutes.
Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites is a luxury hotel in Dubai Marina with spacious rooms, and also offers a spa, outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna, and a fitness center. There are in-house dining options and the dining and nightlife of Dubai Marina is at walking distance.
Part of the award-winning Rotana group, one of my favorite local hotel chains in Dubai, Amwaj Rotana has a great location on JBR Walk. There’s a pool, fitness center, sauna and Jacuzzi and a beauty center. There are several in-house dining options and just outside the hotel are more options for dining and nightlife all along the JBR Walk. The JBR beach is walking distance from the hotel.
Best Luxury Hotels in New Dubai: Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR, Palm Jumeirah & Bluewaters Island
Bulgari Resort Dubai (Jumeirah Bay Island plus Private Beach)
Bulgari Resort Dubai on Jumeirah Bay Island is one of my absolute favorite luxury hotels in Dubai at the moment. One, the location is great- it’s on a seahorse-shaped manmade island just off the coast of Jumeirah, and is close to both old Dubai, Dubai tourist attractions and to new Dubai. The design is beautiful, the décor is tasteful, there’s a private beach, swimming pool, spa, and fine restaurants serving delicious Italian cuisine. There’s a yacht marina as well and a seafood restaurant with views over it. You’d need to get around by car or taxi as there is no public transport.
Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai (Palm Jumeirah plus Private Beach)
The first time I walked into Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai on Palm Jumeirah, I was mesmerized. It’s like having walked into a grand palace in Europe. The hotel was inspired by the Palace of Versailles and boy, do you feel like royalty here.
The rooms are luxurious are stately, the design and décor is opulent, and the restaurants and bars are some of the best in Dubai. There’s a private beach of course, swimming pool, sauna, gym, spa, a private cinema and a mini-golf course. There’s butler service because clearly, royals don’t do their own unpacking! It’s far from city life and is located in a quiet part of Palm Jumeirah.
Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai (Palm Jumeirah plus Private Beach)
The seriously slick trendy Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai offers modern rooms plus a swimming pool, private beach, spa and gym. There are dining options within the hotel and a great bar with fantastic views. The area around offers plenty other options for dining and nightlife.
One&Only The Palm Dubai (Palm Jumeirah plus Private Beach)
The One&Only The Palm Dubai will always be one of my absolute favorite hotels on Palm Jumeirah. I guess it’s the Arabesque design and décor, the Andalusian courtyards and Moorish architecture influences. This, to me, is also one of the most romantic hotels in Dubai- perfect for weddings and special occasions. There’s a private beach, Guerlain Spa, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, sauna and gym with an indoor lap pool. Rooms are luxurious and spacious and offer fantastic views of the sea or landscaped gardens. Great dining and bar options include 101 Dining Lounge and Bar with yacht marina views.
Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah (Jumeirah plus Private Beach)
Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah is one of my favorite family-friendly luxury hotels in Dubai because I love the location, set among the romantic canals of Madinat Jumeirah. Here among these canals, the Arabian-inspired villas offer luxury stays in an area that has tons of dining and entertainment options. There’s a private beach, swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and spa. The award-winning Thai restaurant Pai Thai is a must-visit.
Another similar option here is the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam
The Address Dubai Marina (City hotel in Dubai Marina)
The Address Dubai Marina is located in the heart of Dubai Marina right next to Dubai Marina Mall. Rooms are modern and luxurious, there’s a rooftop pool, gym and kids’ club plus a spa. Plenty of in-house restaurants and bars, and other options around at walking distance. Good metro connection to get around.
Pros of Staying in New Dubai
- You’re likely to have epic skyscraper/beach/canal/island/yacht marina views in Dubai Marina, JLT, JBR and other areas in new Dubai.
- Wide choice of dining, nightlife, shopping and entertainment with many places being at walking distance.
- Parts of new Dubai, such as Dubai Marina and JLT are very well-connected to the rest of Dubai, as well as old Dubai by metro.
- This part of Dubai feels lively and international.
- You might be close to a beach or a running track or a waterfront promenade.
Cons of Staying in New Dubai
- It is pricier than old Dubai in terms of eating out and nightlife.
- Some parts of new Dubai such as Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island are not connected by metro- so you’d need your own car to get around or have to take a lot of taxis that can add to your transportation cost significantly.
Map of Tourist Attractions and Hotels in New Dubai
I would not recommend staying in Mirdif or any of the residential areas that are too far away from tourist attractions and areas of interest and an active dining and entertainment scene.
Where To Stay in Dubai: City or Beach?
One of the things I absolutely love about Dubai is that we have year-round beach weather. Okay, agreed that 40 plus degrees Celsius in the peak of summer isn’t ideal for the beach but if you really love the beach, you can still enjoy it before 11am. Plus I totally love going to the beach between October and April- it’s lively, it’s beautiful and generally, life in Dubai during those months seems pretty awesome.
So if you’re visiting Dubai from a colder place and want some sun, sand and sea, then yes, by all means look for a beachfront hotel or apartment, or at the least, somewhere that is a quick walk away from the beach.
If you’re visiting Dubai mainly to sightsee and check off your bucketlist of Dubai tourist attractions, and plan to spend no time or just maybe one afternoon at the beach, then look for something in the city that is cheaper and has a good metro connection. It’s good to know that Jumeirah does not have a metro connection but does have bus connections to the rest of the city. Buses, of course, are way slower than the metro but timetables are reliable.
In case you’re after beach hotels in Dubai, here are my recommendations:
Where To Stay in Dubai for the Beach: Dubai Beach Hotels for Every Budget
Map of Best Beach Hotels in Dubai
Budget Beach Hotels in Dubai
Park Regis Boutique Hotel (Jumeirah)
Mid-Range Beach Hotels in Dubai
The Habtoor Grand Resort Autograph Collection in Dubai Marina is a luxurious resort with a pool, private beach and tennis courts, plus a cool terrace with fantastic views. There’s also a spa with a Turkish steam bath, water slides and a Jacuzzi. In-house dining options include Thai and Japanese.A similar option is the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort.
Located along JBR Walk and with its own private beach, pool, and gym, and rooftop bars, the Hilton Dubai The Walk offers reasonably-priced serviced apartments with kitchenettes. The best part? All the dining and nightlife options of JBR Walk are right at your doorstep- so you can walk to restaurants, bars and cafés in the area.
Relax on the sand at the private beach at Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel or cool off in the outdoor pool in this 4-star hotel that also has a spa and fitness center, Jacuzzi plus a beauty center, located on the manmade island of Palm Jumeirah. This one’s great to escape the city and go away on a proper holiday!
Luxury Beach Hotels in Dubai
Other than the beach hotels I’ve mentioned under Luxury Hotels in New Dubai, here are some other great beach hotels in Dubai.
One&Only Royal Mirage Dubai Marina offers 1000m of private beach and landscaped gardens, three swimming pools, watersports center and a beach club, as well as tennis courts, gym, spa and a beauty center. Rooms come with private balconies with sea views. There’s a sports bar and in-house restaurants, and other options around in Dubai Marina.
If you want five-star beachfront luxury at mid-range prices, then look no further than the The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina in Dubai Marina. There’s a private beach and five, yes, that’s right- five pools plus a pool bar. There are also tennis courts, a gym, sauna and spa. There are eight in-house restaurants and great bars so you’ll be spoilt for choice, plus tons of other dining and nightlife options are around in Dubai Marina.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach is a luxurious and classy beach resort located in Jumeirah. There’s a private beach, indoor and outdoor pools (plus kids pools and kids club), spa, sauna, wellness center, gym and tennis courts. Rooms are modern and spacious with sea views. Plenty of really great dining and nightlife options in the hotel, plus many others in Restaurant Village just next door.
Caesars Palace Dubai is located on Bluewaters Island and feels like a true escape from the city. The hotel is luxurious and offers a beautiful swimming pool with views of the sea, and a private beach with cabanas. There’s a beach bar and restaurant that has a great party vibe. Other dining and nightlife options include a Cuban bar and restaurants, some with celebrity chefs at the helm. It’s pretty far away from tourist attractions, so you’ll need your own set of wheels or rely on cabs.
Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Dubai is located close to old Dubai, the Dubai Mall, Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai and is an easy drive to new Dubai areas. There’s a private beach, swimming pool and plunge pool, spa, sauna, gym and tennis courts. The luxurious rooms come with private balconies and oversized bathtubs. There are four in-house dining options including a beach club that does great cocktails. There’s no public transportation, so you’ll need to rent a car or take taxis to get around.
Located on Palm Jumeirah, the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort is like a Thai-inspired beachfront sanctuary with the UAE’s only overwater villas and long tail boat. Rooms are modern and the design is Thai-inspired with red roofs. Each room comes with a private balcony and outdoor deck to watch the sunset. Other than a private beach, there is an infinity pool, lagoon, outdoor tennis courts, and the Anantara Spa. Dining options include the acclaimed Asian restaurant Mekong and international restaurant Crescendo, and other options in Palm Jumeirah are a drive away.
Want more insider tips? Join my Dubai Travel Planning Group on Facebook for info on cool restaurants, cafes, instagrammable spots, attractions and things to do in and around Dubai.
Where To Stay in Dubai on a Budget
Like I’ve mentioned before, if you’re on a strict budget, you shouldn’t worry because there are seriously tons of options for both hotels and apartments. Whether you prefer old Dubai, Jumeirah or Dubai Marina and JLT, or Sheikh Zayed Road you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Parts of Bur Dubai and Deira are a bit shady these days- they’re not unsafe or anything, but well, they’re a bit eclectic, and not everyone wants that. So my recommendation is to look at serviced apartments and budget hotels in Mankhool- that’s a residential area- also where I live currently- that is close to affordable restaurants and supermarkets, as well as the metro and Bur Juman shopping mall (that has a cinema, Carrefour and more dining options). Mankhool is home to many hotel apartments and they’re excellent value for money and generally of a high standard.
Map of Best Budget Hotels and Apartments in Dubai
Budget Dubai accommodation options in Mankhool
Golden Sands Hotel Apartments (Mankhool)
That said, the area around the Deira City Center mall is also good if you’re looking for where to stay on a budget- there are serviced apartments and four-star hotels, plus plenty of restaurants, supermarkets and metro connectivity.
Budget Dubai accommodation options in Deira
If you’d rather be between old and new Dubai, then look for budget accommodation along Sheikh Zayed Road. The metro connectivity and many dining and nightlife options make this area a great choice even if you’re looking for places to stay in Dubai on a budget.
Budget Dubai Accommodation along Sheikh Zayed Road
Right on Sheikh Zayed Road, close to metro stations and many dining and nightlife options, Number One Tower Suites offers spacious rooms with kitchenette, Jacuzzi, indoor pool and sauna. This location is hard to beat, and the hotel is family-friendly and suitable for solo women as well.
Fraser Suites Dubai offers modern rooms with great city views, plus a swimming pool, terrace, Turkish steam bath, sauna, tennis courts and an in-house restaurant. The nearest metro station is at walking distance. Suitable for families and both business and leisure travelers.
Best Budget Hotels in Dubai Marina
Rove Dubai Marina offers comfortable rooms plus access to a saltwater pool, table tennis and mini golf on the beautiful Dubai Marina promenade. Same cool social vibe makes it perfect for solo travelers. Tons of dining and nightlife options in Marina are around. 20-minute walk to the nearest metro station.
Located in Dubai Marina in a residential area with easy access to restaurants, cafés and bars, as well as a short walk to the beach in JBR, the Marina Byblos Hotel offers comfortable rooms, a sauna and rooftop pool plus bar. There are in-house restaurants and bars and a nightclub, but you’re also close to other options in Marina. The metro station is a short walk away.
Another budget option in Dubai Marina, Pearl Marina Hotel Apartments offers spacious apartments with kitchenette, refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave, plus private balconies. There’s a garden and swimming pool and in-house restaurant as well. The nearest metro destination is a few minutes’ walk away.
Where To Stay in Dubai for Nightlife
Dubai’s nightlife is pretty legendary; from tiki bars and slick gin bars to beach clubs and over the top nightclubs, we’ve got it all. So if you’re visiting Dubai to party and want to stay somewhere that’s close to nightlife- think bars, pubs and nightclubs, then I’d pick one of these areas:
- Along Sheikh Zayed Road (between World Trade Center and Downtown Dubai)
- Downtown Dubai or around the Dubai Mall
- Around Dubai International Financial Center
- Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers
- Madinat Jumeirah or around
Where To Stay in Dubai for a Week
A week is actually a fair amount of time to see most of the main sights and attractions in Dubai without rushing and exhausting yourself, and allowing for some quality beach time. Still, to many people, a week in Dubai seems like a long time.
But if you’re planning to spend a week in Dubai, you’ve got to consider the accommodation expense. Staying in a five-star luxury hotel or resort will be pricey. So pick a nice budget hotel or apartment in Dubai that feels comfortable enough for you to want to stay that long. For me, it’s a lot about the vibe and how easy it’s to get around.
Best Area To Stay in Dubai for Tourists
To me these are the best areas to stay in Dubai for tourists- based on good metro connectivity, proximity to restaurants, cafes and supermarkets and the time it takes to get to other parts of Dubai and tourist attractions and sights.
- Mankhool (additionally this is also among the best places to stay in Dubai for Indian tourists for the convenience and availability of Indian food).
- Along Sheikh Zayed Road and World Trade Center
- Dubai Marina
- Jumeirah Beach Residence
- Close to Dubai Mall and the Dubai Mall metro station
- Close to Mall of the Emirates
Best Area to Stay in Dubai with Family
Dubai is a pretty family-friendly city overall. Neighborhoods such as Jumeirah, Mankhool, Karama, Al Wasl, Al Safa, and Deira, Sheikh Zayed Road, Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina and JBR are all areas that are suitable to stay in with your family.
Great Family-Friendly Hotels in Dubai
Best Places to Stay in Dubai for Couples
If you’re visiting Dubai on your honeymoon or to celebrate a special occasion with your spouse, and are searching for the best places to stay in Dubai for couples or for romantic hotels in Dubai, then I suggest looking for a beachfront hotel or apartment, a beach resort on one of the islands or a desert resort for the seclusion and the unique experience.
Best Romantic Hotels in Dubai for Couples
Hostels in Dubai
One of the things that I feel like I must warn you about- because I see other blog posts that talk about hostels in Dubai and then link to hostels on booking sites- is that I am not a 100% sure all these hostels are legit and have legal operations.
I’ve had a look at them online and they’re essentially set up in residential apartments. So you won’t find a sign for the hostel on the building and they’re essentially just dorm beds set up in living rooms and bedrooms. As far as I’m aware, there’s just one official Youth Hostel in Dubai and from what I hear, you get what you pay for.
As for the others, I personally would not stay in them, especially when there are affordable hotel apartments and hotels, many with kitchenettes and pool and gym access. Hotel apartments are great value for money, by the way and in Dubai, they cost what I pay for hostels in Scandinavia and expensive Italian cities.
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There you are, my list of the best places to stay in Dubai and where to stay in Dubai broken down by the best hotels and apartments, in terms of best budget, mid-range and luxury hotels in Dubai, best neighborhoods to stay in Dubai, as well as categories such as beach hotels, romantic and family-friendly hotels.
Have you been to Dubai? Where did you stay? Know any hotels that you’d like to include in this list?
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