Dubai is a whimsical place. In my opinion, Dubai is a cross between Walt Disney World and Las Vegas. Except times ten. Remember going to Disney World as a kid for the first time and your eyes got so starry and magic just pulsed through your veins? That’s how I feel when I go to Dubai. It’s a unique and scintillating city. I used to think that New York City was the most unbelievable city I had been to until I had the pleasure of visiting Dubai. Move over, NYC–you have some tough competition. I’ve been fortunate to visit Dubai twice now and I’m already plotting my return back.
In this post, I’m not going to tell you about the fun things there are to do in Dubai. You can find that on Google. Instead, I’m going to tell you why Dubai is my favorite city in the whole wide world. I’ve listed my top ten favorite things about this enchanting city in no particular order–until you get to number one.
10.) I feel accepted.
Dubai is home to so many different people from all over the world. The diversity of the people in this city is actually mind blowing. In fact, almost 85% of the city’s population is composed of expatriates. I feel accepted for who I am everywhere I go. I like to think of Dubai as a multi-cultural melting pot.
9.) I love the fact that there is a beach in the middle of the desert.
The beach at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences) is fantastic. Let your toes sink into the warm, powdery sand while gazing at the iconic landscape of the city in the background. There are plenty of things to do at the beach–watersports, shopping, beachside dining, etc.
8.) The food though.
I’m seriously getting hungry as I think about the delicious food I ate here. As an American who has been traveling for quite some time now, I was elated when I found out how many American restaurants there are in Dubai. Don’t ask me how many times I had cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Other American food chains include IHOP, Shake Shack, Five Guys, Texas Roadhouse, Chili’s, El Chico, Applebee’s, Baja Fresh, California Pizza Kitchen, etc. I gotta stop now–I’m getting hungry. Aside from the American chains, you can find a variety of Thai, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Indian food. The service at the restaurants in Dubai is just remarkable. I am instantly greeted and the food comes out just perfect to my liking. You won’t be disappointed whether you go to food stalls or five-star restaurants that serve gold flakes on the food. All of your wildest food cravings will be satisfied.
7.) The malls!
I don’t think it’s possible to talk about Dubai and not mention the malls. The Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall just blow my mind. Think of any brand you love and you’ll find it at one of these malls. I could spend all day in the mall and still not explore the whole thing. The Dubai Mall also has an aquarium!
6.) I can ski in the desert.
The words ski and desert shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. But, anything is possible when it comes to Dubai. I didn’t ski, but Amos did. And he had so much fun doing it! Located in the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of ski area. Just show up as you are and they will provide you with snow gear and equipment. Don’t forget to check out the cutest snow penguins while you’re there.
5.) I am always safe.
Dubai is one of the safest cities I have visited. I can walk around the streets at 3 AM and have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ll be perfectly safe. The police is also quick and helpful. I’ve heard several stories about women leaving diamond rings and other valuables in public restrooms and the cleaning staff will return it to them.
4.) I love gazing at the skyline.
I become a kid again when I gaze at the skyline in Dubai. The tall and unique buildings are truly fascinating. Dubai houses the tallest building in the world–the Burj Khalifa. It was so surreal to finally see this creation in person. It doesn’t matter where you are in Dubai–you will be surrounded by a stunning view.
3.) I could watch The Dubai Fountain over and over and over again.
You cannot miss this incredible show when visiting Dubai. Watch the water shoot up 500 feet into the air while being serenaded by music. It’s the biggest fountain display in the world.
2.) I love the extravagance.
I honestly laugh when I hear people say that New York City and Hong Kong are the most extravagant cities in the world. I’ve been to both of these cities and can honestly attest to the fact that Dubai is far more superior in this aspect. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin.. you name it–you’ll be surrounded by these cars on the highway. From Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to other high-end hotels, you won’t find a lack of luxury here.
1.) GROSVENOR HOUSE!! MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THING ABOUT DUBAI!!
Here’s the fun part. I get to tell you all about the hotel that has hijacked my heart.
Grosvenor House is quite honestly Heaven on Earth. There’s no other way to describe it. For me, it’s the equivalent of a luxurious palace. They should place a photo of Grosvenor House next to the word “perfect” in the dictionary. I feel at ease when the taxi driver pulls into the entrance of the hotel. My body just instantly relaxes. All of my stress and worries go away. That’s how I know I chose the right hotel to stay. From the moment I check in to the moment I check out, my stay here is impeccable.
When I pull up to the hotel, a friendly gentleman from the concierge team rushes over to my door every single time without fail to open the car door. He insists that he grab my luggage so I won’t have to worry about it. He walks me into Tower 2 and takes me to the front desk area so I can check in. If Rami is working the concierge desk, he drops what he is doing to come welcome us. The front desk staff shines me their million dollar smiles and ask me how I am doing and how my flight was. They don’t ask me this for the sake of just asking me and doing their job. They ask me this because they genuinely care. They make the check-in process so painless and simple so I can get to my room and start relaxing after a long day of travel. Anshul just has a sixth sense and somehow knows we are checking in. He meets us with so much appreciation and personally welcomes us each time.
I enter my apartment and I immediately feel at home. The entire apartment is adorned with thoughtful touches to make it feel like home. The living room is bright with the warm Dubai sun peeping through the curtains. I look up and the ceiling looks as high as the sky. I walk into my bedroom and just toss myself into the comfortable bed like toddler. The bed here is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. The sheets feel like satin and the pillows feel like clouds. I’m not even exaggerating but I’ve gotten the best nights of sleep at this hotel. The view from the bedroom is magnificent–a perfect view of the marina and the infamous Dubai skyline. My absolute favorite part of the apartment is the bathroom. I could live in this bathroom forever. The bathroom has plenty of closet space even for the heaviest of packers. I literally have to pull myself out of the shower because of the rainfall shower-head. The toiletries are lush. I wish I could run away with a box of the shampoo, conditioner and body wash. I can always count on my apartment being immaculate and spotless. After our first night in the apartment, the housekeeping staff knows our preference. They pick up on the way we like things in the apartment and they make sure to fix up the apartment to our liking. I can always count on keeping up with current events because I get a newspaper delivered to me every morning. Amos has to drag me out of this apartment whenever we leave. I still dream about this apartment every night.
After getting the most perfect night of sleep, I mosey over to Tower 1 and indulge in the breakfast at Sloane’s. I’ve stayed at over 80 hotels in the past year and I can say with certainty that the breakfast at Sloane’s is the best breakfast I have ever had. I’m greeted by the bright and chippery Sheldon, Shifan, Marian, and Bronson who ask us how we slept and what we did the night before. (Thank you, Sheldon, for never getting mad at us for walking in last minute every morning). They then walk us over to our table and chat with us some more. The staff somehow remembers our order and our names after having just one encounter with them. I’ve never even met half the staff at Sloane’s and they still know my name and order. That’s remarkable. I walk into breakfast every morning and I don’t even have to place an order. Vincent knows exactly what I want to drink and Jaliya places my order for eggs benedict when sees me. Mayura and Peter bring me my breakfast with so much warmth. The eggs benedict is made with so much love by Ram. I can’t forget the crepes. I look forward the delicious crepes made by Das every single day. You can actually taste the love he puts in them. If you leave breakfast hungry, you did it wrong. The variety of food you get is unparalleled and the execution on the dishes is stellar.
Speaking of Sloane’s, their seafood night is my jammmm! You pay a fee per person and you eat all the seafood and steak your stomach can handle. I feel like I have to crawl out of there because I’m so stuffed. I can always count on Antriksh and Sooraj to ask if I’ve had enough steak and lobster. The chefs will cook your lobster, crab, clams, mussels, prawns and scallops right before your eyes. I have to remind myself to keep room for the sushi and the Indian food. The variety of dessert is impressive–cakes, ice cream, pastries and so much more. I’ll take a side of sugar overload with my seafood, please.
Last but not least, you can find me every day hanging out at Level 5 during the day. It’s where I have my afternoon iced latte and lunch while pretending to do some work. Level 5 offers pre-dinner drinks and snacks every night from 6-8 PM. I’ve had more Rose wine and Bloody Mary’s than I can even count at Level 5. The hors d’oeuvres are so delectable, especially the samosas and the little mushroom tarts. My outright favorite part of Level 5 is the staff there. The staff at Level 5 have become my family. They know me better than I know myself. They always watch out for me and take care of me. A special shoutout to Shaiju, Akhil, Kavindi, Karunakur, Pradeep, Marife, Maricar, Chandru, Rose and Cindy for making us feel so welcome and for taking such great care of us. The staff at Level 5 is my family. My parents disowned me for marrying Amos. When I walked into Level 5 for the first time, I was terrified because the majority of the staff there is Indian. I thought they would judge me and not accept me because I was married to someone outside of my race. What my parents did to me tainted my overall view of the Indian culture. I didn’t dislike my culture. I just didn’t want to associate myself with anyone from the culture because I thought they would hurt me too and would always judge me because of who I am married to. I never wanted to put myself or Amos in that situation to have that judgment. I alienated myself completely from the culture and from Indians. I conditioned myself to think that all Indians are bad people and that they all aren’t accepting of biracial marriages. The staff here saw past that. They saw me for who I was as a person. The staff on Level 5 made me realize that India is such a big country and not all Indians are judgmental. I judged the whole country of India based on the actions of a handful of people. The staff on Level 5 made me fall in love with my culture again. They made me appreciate it. They made me realize how incredibly lucky I am to have been born an Indian-American. I come from such a fun and beautiful culture. They made me embrace my culture again. I was loved for who I am and that’s all. The staff taught me to love people harder and that it’s okay to let people into my life. The staff on Level 5 ultimately healed a part of my broken heart and I will forever be thankful for them.
The biggest reason why I am drawn to Dubai is because of Grosvenor House and our family there. The staff there really go out of their way to make you feel like Grosvenor House is your home and that you belong there. The staff make you feel like you are a person and not just a number. I have yet to come across a staff member who does not know my name. As I mentioned before, staff members who have never met me know my name. That is superb customer service. We visited Dubai for the first time in July. We initially booked our stay for five nights. We couldn’t get ourselves to leave so we extended another five days. Then, we extended for another week because it hurt our souls to leave. We returned back to Grosvenor House after three weeks and we stayed for a week. You would think that the staff would have forgotten our breakfast order and preferences after being away for three weeks. NOPE–they remembered. We sat down at breakfast the very first day after we returned the second time and they didn’t even ask our order. They remembered. Everyone was so excited to see us again. They ran up to us and hugged us and welcomed us back. Never in my entire life have I seen so many people so excited to see me. We went back home to the States in March this year and not even our friends and family were this happy to see us. We had only been gone three weeks here and the staff acted like we had been gone a lifetime. And we were just as elated to see them! That is an extraordinary level of hospitality that I have yet to see anywhere else. We know the life stories of some of these staff members. We know about some of their families. And they know all about us as well. It’s so refreshing to feel at home and have a sense of family again after being away from home for so long. The staff here makes me want to keep coming back. Not ever when I am there do I feel like I am alone. I always feel like I have someone who cares about me. This is why Grosvenor House will ALWAYS be home to me.