Dubai has a vast range of accommodation, much of it aimed squarely at big spenders. There’s also a decent selection of mid-range places, although nothing for real budget travellers.
At the top end of the market, the city has some of the most stunning hotels on the planet, from the futuristic Burj al Arab to traditional Arabian-themed palaces such as Al Qasr and the One&Only Royal Mirage. When it comes to creature comforts, all of Dubai’s top hotels do outrageous luxury as standard, with sumptuous suites, indulgent spa treatments, spectacular bars and gorgeous private beaches. The size and style of the very best places makes them virtually tourist attractions in their own right – self-contained islands of indulgence in which it’s possible to spend day after day without ever feeling the need to leave.
Many of the top hotels are spread out along the beach in Umm Suqeim and Dubai Marina and around the Palm, although the overall shortage of oceanfront accommodation means the best places tend to get booked solid way in advance, especially during the winter months. There are also several superb top-end places dotted around the city centre, along Sheikh Zayed Road and around Downtown Dubai.
There are a vast number of mid-range options scattered across the city, although virtually all establishments in this price range tend towards the functional and characterless, providing comfortable lodgings but not much else. There’s no real budget accommodation in Dubai, and you won’t find a double room anywhere for much less than about 250dh (US$70), or a single for much under 200dh (US$55). The good news is that stringent government regulations and inspections mean standards are reliable even at the cheapest hotels – all are scrupulously clean and fairly well maintained, and come with en-suite bathroom, plenty of hot water, satellite TV (although there might not be much choice of channels) and fridge. Wi-fi is also now more or less universally available in even the very cheapest hotels, although may be charged for separately, sometimes at extortionate rates.
All hotels are graded by the government according to a star-rating system comparable to that used in other countries worldwide, starting at one star and rising to five-star-deluxe, while the city is also home to the world’s first “seven-star” hotel, as the Burj al Arab is often described – although not, it must be said, by the hotel itself.