Dubai makes it onto rich lists as one of the most expensive countries on earth but it is possible to holiday without breaking the piggy bank. In fact there is an almost endless range of options for every budget, from hotel rooms to activities. There’s also a surprising amount to do for free as Kirstie Pelling from The Family Adventure Project found out…
Fancy spending some money on the best room with a view in Dubai? No problem. You could stay at the ocean themed Atlantis, The Palm, on the crest of a man made, palm shaped island. You could hang out at the ‘seven star,’ sail shaped Burj Al Arab hotel. Or if you want to stick around a while you could buy a pad in Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. But contrary to what you might have heard, Dubai isn’t just a playground for the wealthy. You can have a rewarding family holiday on a budget.
Dubai is a vast and complex city but there are many ways to get around. Car hire is reasonably priced and filling up the tank makes you happy when the bill comes it at around £10. While part of the fun is getting lost on the seven lane highways, public transport is cheap and efficient. The metro is an air conditioned, futuristic travel capsule. And £1 is all it cost for our family of five to cross the creek on an atmospheric little abra water taxi.
Food prices are comparable to Europe. You can eat burgers every day if you feel like it or you can fine dine your way around the city. There is a huge amount of hotel stock (with many more hotels planned in the lead up Expo 2020) and we stayed in an apartment which cut down costs on eating out. And there are many ways to work off your dinner. In almost two weeks in Dubai we biked, flew, skied, swam and dived. We rode coasters and camels and waves and dunes.
We flew with Emirates, coming back to the UK on the A380. This double decker delight made the trip for the kids, especially when they discovered the 1000+ programmes on the entertainment system plus lunch and afternoon tea and presents. If you book your flight with Expedia, you can use their new app at the airport, which tells you the gate and what time it opens, and then directs you to your hotel when you touch down.
We stayed for part of the time at the budget Abidos Hotel in Dubailand. To say it was out of town is an understatement. But it was spacious and serviced, with its own supermarket next door. But we also wanted to experience some of the region’s luxury accommodation; so we had a day at Atlantis, The Palm, a night at the Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, and two nights at the Crowne Plaza on Yas Island near Abu Dhabi. This quality four star hotel has a great view of the Yas Island Links golf course on the Western shores of the island. You can watch the golfers trundle off on their buggies in the warm early morning sunshine while you sip coffee on your balcony. Or you can watch the keen early morning swimmers do laps of the hotel’s outdoor pool.
The Movenpick Jumeirah Beach is also all about the location and midnight saw us promenading The Beach admiring sand sculptures of the Dubai skyline. No cost to look, although those who made them must have paid in sweat.