Dubai travel guide to the best places to eat, shop and hang out

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A week and a half into October, I landed in Dubai with four fantastic women who I was meeting for the first time. Our “bleisure” trip (business + leisure), as I like to call it, consisted of four days of doing absolutely everything possible in the land of endless possibilities. Loaded with new experiences and memories, I offer you some recommendations for which I can be thanked later! So, in Dubai, here’s where to shop, eat, and even plan a wedding.

Video credit: author’s own

1. First, the food

Exploring the best food outlets was a priority – there was a tacit consensus on this. So, among the 521 places we explored, here are the first two that made me the happiest.

1. Lucia’s, Address Sky View Hotel, City Center

The best restaurants in Dubai
Credit: Lucia’s

We need to have a list of top bookmarked restaurants to kick off this fruitful journey. I would not hesitate to recommend this amazing restaurant. There’s the Mediterranean aesthetic, stunning views of the Burj, and delicious Italian cuisine. And there’s more. It would be a sin not to try the Rigatoni Cacio & Pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper). And, of course, leave room for the next recommendation I have.

The best restaurants in Dubai
Credit: author’s own

2. Amala, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

    Best restaurants in Palm Jumeirah
Credit: author’s own

If a royal Mughlai dining experience is what you are looking for, look no further. As someone who can’t stop until I’ve added everything to their plate at a breakfast buffet, I was full by the time I visited Amala for lunch. But as soon as I laid eyes on their tandoori prawns, smoked lamb chops and bhindi achariI had to go all out. Visit the place not only for the food but also for the hotel it is located in, the magnificent Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.

2. Here for IG Reels? Damn yes!

For a long time, my desire to experience things without wanting to record them dominated. Step into Dubai and I felt this beauty had to be captured.

1. CÉ LA VI Dubai

Must-see places in Dubai
Credit: author’s own

A visit to Dubai necessitates the obligatory IG post and the riches of the city are such that there is no need to exert effort for Reels to occur. But here is a suggestion. Perched on level 54 of the Address Sky View Hotel is a rooftop restaurant called CÉ LA VI.

Along with a breathtaking view from the top and an infinity pool that overlooks the cityscape, there’s a lovely swing set-up that would make any IG enthusiast’s heart race. There may or may not be a short queue to get that shot, but wait because your stream is about to explode.

Must-see places in Dubai
Credit: author’s own

3. Is your wedding on your mind?

desis are looking for destination weddings and it’s time for Dubai to top our lists. There are great options for every budget and endless possibilities for a unique wedding.

1. The City Center Palace

Image credit: Instagram/palacedowntown

I like to do things in order so let’s start with the proposals first! Now imagine the fountain show, one of Dubai’s top attractions, unfolding in all its glory as you pop the question to the love of your life. The Palace Downtown’s exclusive space can accommodate an intimate gathering in the most luxurious and cutting-edge setting you can imagine.

And if it hasn’t already crossed your mind, the CÉ LA VI swing also makes the perfect backdrop. Now that you’ve decided where your niche will be, it’s time to put a ring on it. The ring, my friend, is what you need next.

2. The Marquise

Latest ring designs at La Marquise, Dubai,
Credit: author’s own

desis would agree that Dubai is one of the best places to buy gold. But there is also a diamond jewelry brand here that boasts of exquisitely crafted designs. I visited their shop in Dubai Mall where I ended up feeling like a kid in a candy store, bogged down by the limits of his empty bank account.

Luckily for first-timers, La Marquise salespeople will help you get what you really want because being sure of your life partner is one thing, but finding a ring is a whole other ball game.

3. The Ritz-Carlton, The Breeze

Best Hotels for Destination Weddings in Dubai,
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton

People are willing to go out of their way to help you achieve your vision and that’s why you can trust them to bring your fairy tale wedding to life. Besides the spacious and elegant rooms they offer, the Ritz-Carlton has a perfect location for outdoor weddings. A seaside garden amidst lush greenery and the smell of ocean breezes make this a truly romantic, elegant, and Pinterest-worthy spot. Plus, it comes with the promise of Arabian hospitality.

4. Lover of everything related to art?

All the creatives here already know that this is the cool neighborhood, the place to visit when you are in Dubai.

1. Dubai Design District

Video credit: Instagram/d3dubai

As well as witnessing the spectacle that was Arab Fashion Week, I got an inside view of the designer studios and workshops where all the magic happens (I was lucky enough to have a quick tour by Yasmine de la Maison Yeya, Zaid Farouki, Michael Cinco). Plus, there’s an array of creative pop-ups, art installations, and chic cafes to check out.

Dubai based designers
Credit: author’s own

I wanted to end this guide here, but I couldn’t do it without adding another quick suggestion. Experience a relaxing massage before the fatigue of visiting all the beautiful places gets to you. Relax like royalty at the Palace Downtown Spa, which offers everything from the finest techniques to oriental baths. Pure happiness hashtag.

Main image credit: author’s own and The Ritz-Carlton

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