Dubai has a well deserved reputation for luxury and excess but that doesn’t mean you have to have the riches of a sheikh to enjoy the city. The city has over 700 hotels and probably the biggest concentration of luxury hotels in the world. With a little planning and insider knowhow, it’s possible to enjoy these fantastic hotels without breaking the bank.
1. Get your timing right
The most affordable time to visit Dubai is during the hot, humid summer months from June to September. With daily temperatures over 40C and very high humidity, you may think only the clinical insane would visit during these months but think again. All hotel pools are chilled, everywhere indoors is air-conditioned and it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a luxury holiday at this time of year. A little bit of advance planning of your activities will ensure a wonderful holiday. For instance, it’s a great time of year to do a desert safari as the desert is dry and more comfortable than the city.
Luxury hotels slash their prices in these months with the holy month of Ramadan being the most cost effective of all.
2. Location, location, location – city or beach?
Dubai beach hotels are generally more expensive than city hotels so it may be worth staying away from the beach to save money. If you plan to spend most of your time out and about exploring the city then choose a hotel with a nice pool instead of a private beach and use the money saved on some of the great activities on offer around town.
Areas to consider include:
Al Barsha for affordable hotels, plenty of places to eat, Mall of the Emirates, and a metro station.
Sheikh Zayed Road which has metro stations, places to eat and drink, and is only a short distance from the multiple attractions of the Downtown Dubai area and also within easy reach of the souqs and attractions of old Dubai.
Bur Dubai and Deira are the older parts of town, on either side of Dubai Creek and close to the traditional souqs. Both have plenty of lower cost accommodation but these areas do get very congested and hotels are, in general, less luxurious.
Many people like the idea of staying on the man-made island, the Palm Jumeirah, and the luxury hotels here are fine if you plan to spend most of your time at the hotel and have plenty of cash – hotels on the Palm know their guests are something of a captive market and price food and drink accordingly. If you plan to explore the city and eat out every night you can save yourself time and money by staying on the mainland.
3. Choose two hotels instead of one
Another great idea to save money as well as maximise convenience is to split your holiday between a city hotel for your days of exploring and a beach hotel for your relaxation days.
Bear in mind, though, that the sea is like a hot bath during the cheaper Summer months so you’re far more likely to enjoy your hotel’s blissfully chilled pool than to swim in the salty waters of the Gulf.
4. Save on your first and last nights
Dubai airport is the world’s busiest and flights arrive and depart 24 hours a day. If you find your flight arrives in Dubai in the wee hours of the morning then you can save the cost of a 5 star hotel for that night by checking into one of the clean, safe chain hotels around the airport’s perimeter. Look at Holiday Inn Express or Premier Inn. Also in the vicinity of the airport are Al Bustan Rotana and Le Meridien Fairway.
Get a few hours sleep at one of these less costly hotels and then arrive at your luxury hotel next day refreshed and ready to make the most of it.
Conversely, if your flight departs late at night/early hours then there is no need to pay for another full day and night at your main hotel. Simply check out at the normal time, ask your hotel to store your luggage and then use your hotel’s facilities all day or have a day out – go shopping, go on a desert safari, see a movie, have dinner etc. In other words, you can have a normal day except without a room to go back to. The hotel will let you use the showers in their gym to freshen up before you head to the airport.
Candice Bain is Founder at Desert to Jungle.
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