The best Dubai beach resorts range from romantic luxury retreats that sprawl along squeaky-soft stretches of sand to big family-friendly hotels with water sports galore and gob-smacking views of Dubai’s iconic sail-shaped Burj Al Arab.
It’s that time of year when I start getting questions about Dubai. The first is always “what are the best Dubai beach resorts”, followed by “how can I experience the real Dubai“, and “where to eat and what to eat in Dubai“. Those in the northern hemisphere are considering Dubai because they want winter sun while others know it’s winter in Dubai, the best time of year weather-wise to visit. And if you’re going to Dubai for winter sun then you want to stay in one of the best Dubai beach resorts, otherwise, what’s the point.
The best Dubai beach resorts have pristine private stretches of sand lapped by the aquamarine waters of the Arabian Sea, multiple palm-lined swimming pools with sufficient sun-beds and swim-up bars, luxuriant shaded gardens with manicured lawns peppered with ponds and tinkling fountains, and a long-list of water-sports, including plenty on offer for the kids.
Sea-facing rooms with balconies that offer breathtaking vistas, buffet breakfasts so generous that they will keep you sated all day, serene spas that propose rejuvenating treatments for sun-kissed skin, ocean-side lounge-bars and rooftop terraces for sundowners, beachside dining for romantic dinners, enchanting courtyards illuminated by fairy lights and fragrant with aromatic sheesha for a nightcap… these are the things that distinguish the best Dubai beach resorts.
Opulent and often over-the-top, the best Dubai beach resorts capture the imagination with exotic Arabesque architecture and plush interiors. Old hands in a region recognised for ancient traditions of Arabian hospitality, Dubai’s hotels remain some of the most welcoming for travellers in need R&R and a bit of pampering.
And, as I said, now is the best time to splurge on a luxury beach stay in Dubai because winter, from December through February, is the only time of year when you can comfortably wander along the water’s edge, recline on a sunny terrace, or stroll around the gardens without returning a sweaty mess, constantly mopping your brow – or anxious you’ll get sunstroke after half an hour basking on the beach.
Unfortunately winter is high season in Dubai and hotel rates are at their highest. Check in during the warmer shoulder seasons instead and you’ll pay up to a third of the current prices. Stay in the steamy summer months and you can find rooms for up to 50% off. You’ll just need to limit your time in the sun to the early morning and late afternoon, and retreat to a restaurant, the spa or your room for a nap in the middle of the day.
A Note on Rates* We don’t usually provide prices on any of our stories as they change so much, but as readers have asked, I’ve given examples of rates for a 1-night stay in an entry-level double room based on booking.com searches (on 3/12/17) for high season (based on an end of January stay) and low season (based on an end of August stay). These are indicative only and will naturally fluctuate according to demand and availability and should be used as a rough guide only.
Best Dubai Beach Resorts
Our picks of the best Dubai beach resorts have all been tried and tested, some multiple times. They are the classic waterfront properties on the mainland which, as some of Dubai’s first resorts, have the widest and longest beaches (some 1-2 kilometres long) and unobstructed views of the Arabian Sea. Countless hotels have launched in their wake yet these grand-dames of Dubai beach resorts remain the best, and here’s why…
One&Only Royal Mirage Resort Jumeirah Beach
The One&Only Royal Mirage will always be one of the best Dubai beach resorts as far as we’re concerned, despite having a younger sibling over on the Palm. The most romantic of the countless beachfront properties that dot the Jumeirah coastline, the One&Only Royal Mirage remains the most exclusive. The spacious rooms are sumptuous and plush with big marble bathrooms and pretty balconies overlooking luxuriant landscaped grounds that make it impossible not to order a room service breakfast at least once during a stay. The private sandy beach has palatial canopies that can be booked. Unnecessary in Dubai’s balmy ‘winter’ when it’s still possible to work on the tan without experiencing sunstroke, they’re a must in Dubai’s fierce summer heat, if you dare to even get on the sand. The gardens are peppered with ponds with tinkling fountains and courtyards boast palm trees enchantingly illuminated by fairy lights, and carpets and cushions to recline upon as you puff on an aromatic sheesha pipe. The restaurants and bars remain some of Dubai’s finest (don’t miss Tagine for Moroccan) and the Oriental hammam was Dubai’s first.
The Beach A kilometre of private, pristine white sand beach – a rare luxury in Dubai these days – that sprawls along Palm Island Bay; book a palatial private canopy for an extra treat.
Sea View Rooms All of the rooms in The Palace are sea-facing with private balconies or patios, while you’ll need to request sea-view rooms in the other buildings.
Swimming Pools Four temperature-controlled swimming pools spread across the lush grounds of all three properties, with an adults only private pool.
Water Sports Sailing, kayaking, Hobie Cats, wind-surfing, and water-skiing. Water ski lessons available under expert instruction for children 8 and up.
Beach Club DRIFT is a private beach club with pool and upmarket restaurant with inventive French cuisine and cocktails by award winning mixologist, Eric Ballard.
Lunch with Sea Views Overlooking the ocean with a deck right on the sand, The Beach Bar & Grill offers fresh seafood and sea breezes.
Beachside Bar The Jetty Lounge is a laidback beachside bar with chill-out music and light snacks (mezzeh, dips, cheeses, platters). Don’t miss the Pomegranate and Sage Margarita (Tequila Gold, Triple Sec, pomegranate, housemade sage syrup, fresh lemon juice).
Spa At the One&Only Spa you can exfoliate with a Pre-Sun Body Polish or enjoy a restorative After-Sun Cooling Wrap to hydrate sun-exposed holiday skin with a cooling balm of lavender and Cypress leaves.
Sundowners Overlooking the Arabian Sea and decorated in an Arabesque style with cushioned banquettes and Arabian chill out music, The Rooftop has long been one of Dubai’s most romantic bar. 30% off drinks from 5-8pm. The Courtyards are perfect for a nightcap with cushions on carpets and aromatic sheesha.
Beachside Dining Eau Zone offers more beachside dining with an Asian twist in a restaurant, surrounded by pools of water with covered decks.
Rates* High season $480 Low season $340
Book One&Only Royal Mirage Resort Jumeirah Beach with our booking partner Booking.com
Jumeirah Mina A’Salam
Mina A’Salam means ‘port of peace’ and the enchanting hotel is part of the sprawling Arabian Resort of Dubai, which includes three grand hotels (Jumeirah Al Qasr and the new Jumeirah Al Naseem), and 36 traditional-style villas, Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf and Jumeirah Malakiya Villas, along with the massive Madinat Jumeirah retail and entertainment complex. Overlooking picturesque man-made waterways and beyond those an alluring palm-fringed beach, Mina A’Salam was the first hotel built in an architectural style that became ubiquitous in Dubai, which was inspired by the towering ancient mud ‘skyscrapers’ of old cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Utterly breathtaking albeit enormous – there are 292 rooms and suites – it’s the stuff of which Orientalist fantasies are made. The Arabian Nights dream begins as guests arrive at the hotel to be greeted by Emirati staff in immaculate white dishdasha and red and white checked gutra and agal, offering cardamom coffee and dates, as is the local Bedouin custom. Beyond the tinkling fountain, upon which rose petals float, a musician plucks an Arabian oud, and elegant Emirati women dressed in embellished black abayas and shaylas (head scarves) nibble on Arabian treats for afternoon tea. The spacious rooms, like the public spaces, are furnished with Persian carpets, Oriental lanterns, enormous urns, and brass coffee pots. There are over 50 superb restaurants and bars to choose from across the whole complex.
The Beach Mina A’Salam shares its two kilometres of pristine creamy-sand beach with other Madinat Jumeirah properties but there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Beach Club Complimentary for hotel guests, with stunning views of the Burj Al Arab and sunbed-side service, including a selection of food, snacks and cold drinks. Day passes for external guests: Adult: AED495 incl. AED250 food & beverage voucher; children: AED295 incl. AED150 food & beverage; children below 4 free.
Sea View Rooms Book an Ocean Deluxe or Executive Ocean for sea views and a balcony.
Swimming Pools Mina A’Salam has one sizeable swimming pool but there’s two kilometres of sandy beach and alluring aquamarine sea within splashing distance of it.
Water Sports Windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and banana rides. Fully qualified PADI instructors offer scuba diving courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced. You can also charter a yacht for some sailing, a boat for some deep-sea fishing, or lounge about on a luxury motorboat. Guests also get complimentary access to nearby Wild Wadi Waterpark.
Lunch with Sea Views Savour some freshly shucked oysters or a chilled seafood platter by the sand (or more formal dinner on the deck) at Rockfish at neighbouring Jumeirah Al Naseem resort.
Spa Talise Spa has 26 treatment rooms, including couples’ suites, cabanas for beach massages, saunas, steam rooms, a swimming pool, and plunge pools. Try the Talise Sea Shell Experience, which uses natural sea shells to apply gentle pressure and smooth strokes to relax and release muscle tension and offer stress relief.
Sundowners Make a beeline for the broad carpet-decked balcony at Bahri Bar, our favourite Dubai spot for sundowners. Order a bottle of chilled white and artisan cheese platter or mezze (kebbeh, fatayar, sambousek, olives etc) as you watch the sun sink below the horizon and the Burj Al Arab lights go on.
Beachside Dining Feast on Greek specialties such as saganaki (breaded fried Kefalotiri cheese with fig marmalade) and htapodi xidato (octopus with fava, tomato, onion and fresh herbs) with your toes in the sand at Shimmers.
Rates High season $417 Low season $212
Book Jumeirah Mina A’Salam with our booking partner Booking.com
Jumeirah Al Qasr
‘Al Qasr’ can mean castle, fortress or palace in Arabic and the luxurious five-star Jumeirah Al Qasr is even more majestic and more opulent than Jumeirah Mina A’Salam with gold plated statues of dancing horses to greet guests in the driveway, an abundance of marble, ornate decorative ceilings dripping with candelabra, and exquisite hand-made furniture, such as carved Damascene coffee tables with mother-of-pearl inlay. This magnificent resort is easily one of the best Dubai beach resorts. Built as the centrepiece of the Madinat Jumeirah complex, Al-Qasr is even more grandiose than its neighbour, with even more expansive and more regal rooms, beautifully decorated in Oriental carpets and lovely reproductions of Arabian antiques circa the early years of UAE Federation. While guests have access to the 50 superb restaurants and bars across the whole complex and can take charming abras (traditional wooden boats) along the canal-style waters to nearby Madinat Jumeirah Souk for some shopping, sipping and dining, Al Qasr is home to some of the finest outlets, including romantic Pierchic and clubby Koubba bar.
The Beach Al Qasr shares its two kilometres of beautiful sandy beach with neighbouring Mina A’Salam but there’s lots of room for everyone and the added bonus of elegant canopies instead of boring old beach umbrellas, and staff who deliver complimentary fresh fruit and cool towels throughout the day.
Beach Club Complimentary for hotel guests, if you get bored, there’s a separate beach club way down the end of the beach with Burj Al Arab views and more sunbed-side service, including a selection of food, snacks and cold drinks. Day passes available for external guests: Adult: AED495 including AED250 food and beverage voucher; children: AED295 including AED150 food and beverage; children below four are free.
Sea View Rooms You’ll want to book an Ocean Deluxe Room with a private balcony overlooking the beach and Arabian Sea.
Swimming Pools Al Qasr has one huge palm-shaded pool and another smaller pool that’s part of the kid’s club.
Water Sports Same facilities as Mina A’Salam: windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and banana rides. Fully qualified PADI instructors offer scuba diving courses for all levels, and you can charter boats for sailing, deep-sea fishing, or luxury cruising. Guests also get complimentary access to nearby Wild Wadi Waterpark.
Lunch with Sea Views Pierchic, at the end of the pier, is popular in the evening, but we prefer to lunch on the Mediterranean-style seafood while gawking at the glorious turquoise sea, the sleek Burj Al Arab and the fairytale complex that is Madinat Jumeirah.
Spa Talise Spa has 26 treatment rooms, including couples’ suites, cabanas for beach massages, saunas, steam rooms, a swimming pool, and plunge pools. Splurge on the 2-hour Shiffa 24-Carat Gold Hammam experience, which includes a luxurious exfoliation, gold clay body mask containing extracts of healing myrtle, and a full body massage with gold-infused precious oils and jasmine petals.
Sundowners The best spot to savour the sunset at Al Qasr is up on the lovely candlit terrace of Koubba Bar which has sweeping views across the palms and illuminated windtowers of the villas, out to sea. Slip into the dramatic lounge after dark.
Beachside Dining Feast on a spread of authentic Lebanese mezze and mixed grilled meats at Khaymat Al Bahar overlooking the beach and pool.
Rates High season $532 Low season $255
Book Jumeirah Al-Qasr with our booking partner Booking.com
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Another majestic 5-star hotel that is arguably one of the best Dubai beach resorts – and the best choice for beach babes, water sports fanatics and families – Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai recently received a long-overdue face-lift while retaining many of the features that its many repeat guests love. While this massive property – there are 504 rooms and suites spread over three buildings – has refurbished many of its rooms to give them a fresher and more contemporary look (the Super Deluxe Rooms and Super Deluxe Suites), some have retained the older regal style that regular guests prefer (these are called the Royal Club Rooms and Suites). Thankfully, one thing that hasn’t changed is chef Richard Sandoval’s wonderful modern Mexican restaurant, Maya, where a pre-dinner margarita on the rooftop terrace is an absolute must. It’s the standout of 14 restaurants and bars and if that’s not enough you can get a shuttle to sister-hotel Grosvenor House for even more of Dubai’s finest fine diners or it’s a short stroll to ‘JBR’ (Jumeirah Beach Residences), the now well-established concrete jungle that we used to call ‘New Dubai’ when the towers first started going up (cough), um, let’s just say it was a long time ago.
The Beach Quite possibly Dubai’s broadest stretch of squeaky-soft white sand, with direct beach access from the 19 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and manicured lawns.
Sea View Rooms Whether you opt for the more contemporary ‘Super’ or more traditional ‘Royal’ rooms, you will need to book a ‘Sea View’ if you want ocean views, otherwise you may get pool or garden views.
Swimming Pools Three sizeable swimming pools – the smallest is larger than the only pool at many Dubai hotels – plus a splash pool and a kids pool is hard to beat. Our guess is that the hotel has more sun-beds and umbrellas than all of its neighbouring properties put together. These guys are seriously well equipped for those of you looking for some serious holidaying.
Water Sports Windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing, canoeing, sports fishing, and diving; some watersports are included, while some have an additional charge.
Lunch with Sea Views So Geales is not within splashing distance of the sea, but you can still see the sea across the gardens and swimming pools and it’s worth the walk for what many in Dubai consider to be some of the freshest seafood (order the oysters and bubbly if available) and excellent fish and chips. (Yes, the focus is British food and they have ‘pasties, pies and pints’ themed nights on Wednesdays.)
Spa Roman themed Caracalla spa and health club sprawls over three levels, with hammams, saunas, state-of-the-art fitness gear, and a tea lounge. The super-hydrating Elemis Body Nectar Nourishing Wrap (in sweet orchid or frangipani) is said to quench a thirsty skin.
Sundowners Sip margaritas as you savour the sublime sunset and gob-smacking views from the rooftop terrace of Maya (see below). Brasserie 2.0 is not beachside but the bar area and terrace are pretty gorgeous.
Outdoor Cinema Not a regular event but this deserves a special mention – until 26 December an open-air cinema in the hotel grounds will show classic films, cult movies and world cinema. For guests who want to make a night of it they can enjoy special 2- and 3-course pre-theatre menus (for AED120-150) at a handful of the hotel’s best restaurants. Expect to see films such as Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, The Castle, Moulin Rouge, and Caramel.
Beachside Dining So it’s a short amble from the beach, but a meal chef Richard Sandoval’s award-winning modern Mexican restaurant, Maya, is a must. If you stay a second night, beachside Middle Eastern restaurant Al Khaima is old-school Dubai but it’s a fab spot to experience Arabian hospitality, traditional regional flavours, and Arabic entertainment, from bellydancers to whirling dervishes.
Rates High season $381 Low season $149
Book Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort And Spa with our booking partner Booking.com
The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, Jumeirah Beach
Another one of city’s older hotels, built at the beginning of the tourist boom in 1998, the elegant, low-rise, dusky-pink Ritz-Carlton still remains one of the best Dubai best resorts. Now described as being located in a buzzy neighbourhood on the famous JBR Walk, we remember when the Ritz-Carlton was in no-man’s land, at the most isolated end of Jumeirah Beach with absolutely nothing surrounding it. We doubt the JBR Walk was even a germ of an idea back then. We lived in Abu Dhabi at the time and expats and locals there loved to spend weekends at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai as it was so isolated, there was nothing to tempt them to stray far. Now, descriptions talk about the “lively Dubai Marina a 5-minute stroll from the resort”. How things have changed. Regardless, this sumptuous hotel, with a subtle Moorish aesthetic, is one of Dubai’s most sophisticated with super-spacious rooms, gorgeous lush gardens, super restaurants, and impeccable service.
The Beach While we like to remember the Ritz-Carlton Dubai’s beach as being one of the last accessible beaches along the Jumeirah strip in the old days, now it’s surrounded by towering skyscrapers. It still remains one of the city’s finest stretches of sand.
Sea View Rooms The Ritz Carlton was built before there were any distractions so fortunately for you that means that all rooms are oriented towards the sea and have private balconies, terraces or patios.
Swimming Pools A whopping six swimming pools with a spa that boasts an adults-only lap pool and plunge pools.
Water Sports In addition to the usual water sports, beachfront activities include flying kites, bird-watching and soccer games.
Lunch with Sea Views A Dubai stalwart, the seafront Palm Grill remains one of the city’s best casual beachfront diners offering jaw-dropping views of that gorgeous Arabian Sea that laps the hotel’s shores.
Spa Oriental hammams, private plunge pools, and an adults-only lap pool are some of the features of this well-regarded spa. Try the Arabia Felix experience, which combines regional specialties such as rose water, Dead Sea salt and camel milk as part of a ritual that includes a gentle exfoliation and full body massage.
Sundowners Sunset sessions with sheesha by the poolside at La Baie are a must (every day from 4-7pm). There are over 20 sheesha flavours and poolside cabanas for privacy.
Beachside Dining Not beachside, sorry, but of the hotel’s nine restaurants and bars, Blue Jade is the stand-out for its Pan-Asian cuisine by a Vietnamese chef that covers the cuisines of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and China.
Rates High season $406 Low season $271
Book The Ritz-Carlton Dubai Jumeirah Beach with our booking partner Booking.com
Have you been to Dubai or do you live there? What are your top recommendations for best Dubai beach resorts?