Why You Should Stay Instead of Stopover in Dubai
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve stopped over in Dubai and haven’t even taken a considered moment to explore the airport for more than an hour, let alone leave it! Yet as we take advantage of the pristine facilities it offers and pray that our connecting flight isn’t delayed even a minute so we can reach our final destination swiftly, one of the world’s most captivating and innovative city’s is just minutes away. Australian expat and textile designer, Georgia Macmillan, who relocated to Dubai with her family three years ago, is a self-confessed advocate for the famous United Arabs Emirates city and has made the case as to why we should look beyond the airport and stay a night (or five). Scroll on for Macmillan’s locals-only guide to Dubai and why you should stay instead of stopover next time you grace the unrivalled city with your presence—you won’t regret it.
Tom & Serg
This Aussie owned cafe is renowned for its great coffee, exceptional food, and vibrant atmosphere. The two-level cafe is gritty and industrial, but still inviting and warm. It’s the kind of cool that appears completely effortless.
Jumeirah Al Qasr
Friday brunch is a Dubai institution and a rite of passage. Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel in Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai offers brunch so big it is titled “Big Friday Brunch” and is spread across two restaurants—the Spanish-inspired restaurant, Al Hambra and international restaurant Arboretum. One of the biggest in town, this brunch includes 48 hours of preparation, 130 chefs, 533kgs of meat and seafood, 35 live cooking stations, and over 280 dishes from an incredible array of cuisines from around the world. Must try: try the Malibu station bar in which you select a coconut from a boat full of fresh coconuts, the top is removed and Malibu (coconut rum) is poured directly into the coconut shell, thus mixing with the juice inside to give a refreshing tropical beverage.
This retail store located at City Walk is one of the most incredible retail experiences—it’s a luxury concept store targeted at little ones, but loved by mothers. It is sensory and beauty overload and worth a visit, even to admire the design and fit-out.
Al Serkal Avenue
Located in the industrial zone of Al Quoz Al Serkal Avenue is the region's foremost arts hub and brings together various forms of art in a single location. The cool new warehouses boast excellent art galleries and interior design stores, such as The Odd Piece. It’s an exciting addition to Dubai and a must see for cutting-edge design.
The One & Only
This world-class resort is actually breathtaking. Perched on a private peninsula of Palm Island, The One & Only boats stunning views, private beaches, and world famous Guerlain Spa—need I say more?
Four Seasons Hotel
The beachfront Four Seasons at Jumeirah is one of my firm favourites—it’s ideal for a weekend escape or if you’re looking to indulge in a first-class dining experience—take your pick from 10 unparalleled venues.
The Rove Hotel
The Rove Hotel offers fuss free, yet stylish and affordable, but innovative accommodation in prime locations. If you’re looking for a cost-effective and convenient hotel in the heart of the city, look no further.
Enjoy a sunset in the desert—we love packing a picnic and driving out to the desert for drinks. Escaping the city, sitting around the bonfire, enjoying silence, the stars, the dunes, and immense space is hard to beat. I find it very moving and it’s also a fantastic to let children blow off steam running up and down the dunes.
Visit XVA Gallery at Bastakiya. The eclectic gallery (with lots of local artists) is a hidden peaceful oasis and comprises a boutique hotel and traditional courtyard café serving Middle Eastern food. We love to take visitors for lunch. It’s also a chance to wander down to the Dubai Creek and take in the old historic part of town.
For more insider recommendations, shop the below travel guide and shop Macmillan's Middle Eastern-inspired textile collection.