During the May half-term break we went on holiday to Dubai.
Simon and I have been a couple of times in the past – 10 years ago, pre-kids and five years ago when Oscar was 11 months old. Both times we loved it. The hotels are luxurious, the shopping is amazing, the beaches are beautiful and at just over six hours, the flight isn’t too much of an ordeal. The only downside, and probably the reason we haven’t been in five years is that it can be quite expensive for flights and hotels.
However, on this occasion Simon managed to find us a great deal with Netflights staying at the Atlantis on the newish Palm Dubai, which since it opened in 2008 has been on my wish list of hotels to visit.
The deal we found was half board, with flights by Air France from Birmingham. We booked the flights and accommodation separately as it worked out quite a lot cheaper. Changing planes in Paris also meant we saved £1,000. We also upgraded to an Imperial Club room, which gave us access to the Club Lounge amongst other things, which I’ll tell you about later in this post.
We arrived quite late at night and after a bit of an issue with the private transfer we’d booked, we arrived at the hotel. Our first impressions exceeding our expectations, the welcome was warm and we felt a little like royalty.
The hotel was huge and lavish. There’s a huge towering water feature in the lobby area that made all the kids gasp. It reminded me of some of the amazing Las Vegas hotels we’d stayed at pre kids. I couldn’t help wonder if we’d found a luxury, child-friendly alternative to Las Vegas?
Our room was in the East Tower, which had the most amenities. We were given an end room, which was huge and had a massive walk in closet. Compared to the public areas, the room, although huge, was quite understated, with neutral tones.
With there being five of us, I expected two queen beds. However, we soon realised that the kids would be sleeping on single camp style beds, which was fine just a little unexpected.
The next morning, we all woke around 9ish. The great thing about Dubai is that the time difference is only three hours ahead of UK time, which fitted brilliantly with the kids’ routine. We generally went to bed at 10pm and the kids would wake around 9am, which if you take the three hours off is exactly what they do at home, so no horrid jet lag to contend with.
The first morning, we had breakfast at Saffron, which is buffet style restaurant. I’d read lots about it being one of the top 10 buffets in Dubai, and whilst it was nice and the kids loved the sweet bar and chocolate fountain (yes, even it’s even running at breakfast) it wasn’t anything amazing.
After breakfast we visited the Imperial Club Lounge to see what we got as part of the upgrade we’d paid for. We were certainly impressed and I’d highly recommend upgrading. We got:
- Access to the lounge for breakfast, afternoon tea, canapés and alcoholic beverages (alcohol is really expensive to buy in the hotel) between 5pm-7pm
- A dedicated check in and concierge desk
- Complimentary daytime sessions at the kids club normally £40 a session – this is the first time our kids have ever been to a kids club on hol and they loved it and went for a couple of hours most afternoons
- Special offers at the spa – mainly two for one
- A dedicated Imperial Club area on the hotel’s private beach
On the first day we went to the pools, the beach and generally explored the hotel, which was amazing and themed around an underwater adventure.. The pools were huge and everywhere was just beautiful.
I’d been worried about the heat, but although it was hot it wasn’t unbearable. Spending most of the day in the pool certainly helped!
The kids went to kids club from 4pm until 6pm, so we went and got ready for the evening, before heading to the Imperial Club Lounge for drinks at 5pm.
One thing we were surprised about was how much more relaxed Dubai now is about dress code. When we first visited, 10 years ago, Simon had to wear trousers and a shirt in the evening, even at the hotel. However, the Atlantis is much more relaxed and there is a real mix of super glam and more laid back casual.
On our first evening we’d made reservations at Gordan Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen. We had to pay a supplement of £10 per adult, but it was well worth it. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we went back twice! I’ve decided to do a separate post on dining at the Atlantis, which I’ll be posting shortly.
On the second day we went to Aquaventure, which is the hotel’s own Waterpark. Guests staying at the hotel get complimentary access, as well as free use of towels in the park. The park was great. A fab mix of rides and a big lazy river, which links to the more exhilarating, but still child-friendly Rapids. The kids also loved the Torrent, which is basically a lazy river with waves. The kids play area was great too and catered for all our children in though Oscar is three years older than the twins. We tended to visit the Waterpark most days.
After day two the days pretty much followed a similar routine – breakfast around 9.30ish, waterpark/pool or beach, kids club for the kids around 3ish until 6pm, during which Simon and I would relax, enjoy a cocktail, get ready for the evening before heading to the Lounge around 5ish. At 6pm, we’d collect the kids and head back to the Lounge for an hour, before dinner at around 7.30pm. Dinner would take a couple of hours, so we’d then head to bed afterwards.
Mid-way through the week, we took the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus to The Mall of the Emirates, where Simon and Oscar had a couple of hours on the slope at Ski Dubai. The twins were pretty tired from the mornings antics, so they had a nice long nap in their buggy, allowing me to enjoy a Starbucks and read my book – bliss!
Normally on holiday we tend to venture out lots. However, this time we only went out once to the mall. The Atlantis has so many pools, restaurants and things to see and do that there was no need to go anywhere. They cater for families so well. The hotel is super family friendly, but at the same time has ultra luxurious surroundings and great restaurants meaning that adults feel just as spoilt as the kids.
We would love to go back, in fact we’ve already started looking for next year… Although it appears that the Atlantis no longer allow five in a room, so it looks like this might be our one and only trip to the, which makes me so sad! We all had an amazing time, we just wished we’d stayed longer, especially now as we might not be able to return!
So, have we managed to find a family-friendly alternative to the Las Vegas luxury we enjoyed pre-kids..? Absolutely, in fact, it might even have one up on Vegas as it has a beach!
Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday with kids?