I’ve always loved going away for my birthday, so earlier this month, when the opportunity came up to fly to Dubai and spend a few nights before embarking on a luxury cruise I was there faster than you can say BIKINI.
On my actual birthday friends took me for cocktails and to see Spectre (possibly my least favourite James Bond movie ever – thin plot, weak villain, unbelievable romantic interest and criminal underuse of Monica Bellucci. Wait until it’s on TV in Christmas 2020). But the following morning I was up bright and early and drinking Champagne in the Emirates Airlines lounge at Heathrow. Not too shabby (it was excellent service throughout the flight, too – they even gave me a birthday cake!)
My hotel, the Madinat Jumeirah, was absolutely beautiful – a VERY luxurious oasis with swimming pools everywhere plus access to its own private beach. I was staying in a garden villa room which was just gorgeous, with its own butler (I know, I know)…
..and the following morning I hit the beach, where I was shown to a sun lounger and given a proliferation of towels and iced water.
I spent a very pleasant morning sunning and swimming and sunning and swimming… you get the idea. It’s not often I get the chance to switch off completely and you forget how much you really do need that sometimes. Plus the chance to swim in the sea, which I hadn’t done all year, and it was a very balmy 34C so idyllic.
There was a spectacular sunset, and it really made me start to appreciate this different side of Dubai; when I’d visited previously I was a bit overwhelmed by all the construction and the rules and regulations, but when you’re looking at the views and nursing a Cosmo or two it all starts to become much more attractive.
The Madinat Jumeriah is actually two properties (soon to be three) linked by its own private canal system, and you can take a water taxi from your room to the various restaurants or the beaches around the property, which is all very romantic, particularly when it’s dark. There’s a bazaar and restaurants galore and a kids’ club; there’s even a turtle sanctuary. Dinner that evening was on the waterfront at the Hanayya with a view of the Burj Al Arab. I immediately became hooked on the hummus; the hummus in the UAE is better than any I’ve tasted anywhere else in the world – including Greece and Turkey – rich and creamy and utterly delicious. The chef said it’s because they put a spoonful of olive oil on the top before serving, so now you know. Properly addictive.
And then the next day it was time to embark on our cruise on Hapag Lloyd Cruises’ stunning ship Europa 2. But before we set sail there was time to take a tour of Dubai, including a trip up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in Dubai, to experience the bar, known as At.Mosphere…
..where we had several of these delicious cocktails (don’t ask me what was in them, but they were SO good).
It was incredibly glamorous, and while I still don’t think I could ever live in Dubai, after spending some more time there I can definitely see the appeal of the beach and the lifestyle.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about my visit to Abu Dhabi.