What do I need to know before I got to Dubai?
What’s the cheapest (but still OK) time to go?
March and October are best. From November to February, when the skies hit peak blue, hoteliers get greedy, while in the Hades-hot summer, the air-con is permanently set to ‘Arctic’. During those shoulder months, though, you’ll find doubles in three-star hotels for about £60 (as opposed to £100 Nov-Feb); returns with BA and Emirates start at £298, about £300 less than in peak season.
Where should I stay?
For make-a-statement glamour, fabulous restaurants and big-ticket draws, Downtown Dubai’s where it’s at. It’s a motherboard of A-game hotels, framed by three stellar attractions: the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Opera and the neck-cracking Burj Khalifa. Views of that 830m monster can best be appreciated 24/7 at the arty Rove Downtown Dubai.
Is is OK to kiss or hold hands in public?
You’ll meet plenty of kissy-kissy Lebanese and Turkish expats who embrace the cheek-to-cheek mwah as though in an episode of AbFab. But if you’re somewhere more public than your hotel room, anything more is illegal and could see you deported or jailed. Snogging does happen on post-brunch weekend bar crawls, but it’s culturally insensitive and risky: expect the (angry) attention of local police.
Where’s a great restaurant — and how do I get a table?
The ziggurat-shaped Madinat Jumeirah entertainment complex may feel like an Arabian Xanadu, but its real star appeal is Pierchic, the most romantic seafood restaurant in the Gulf. Set on stilts above lapping waves, it has sea-to-sky views of the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, and can be accessed by a (free) cycle-rickshaw ride along the pier. The city’s best-dressed love the Ibizan house music, while expats come to pig out at the Friday shellfish brunch (£87).
What’s a fun thing to do that’s not in the guidebook?
Few visitors expect to find Berlin-style cool in Dubai, but then few know about Hobo Club. It’s an off-map club, hidden behind a black door in a building accessed from a car park off Sheikh Zayed Road (you’ll get directions when you reserve). DJs play hip-hop and indie vinyl to model waifs in floral dresses and creatives with woodsman beards. #hipsterheaven.