With its dramatic coastal setting and skyscrapers rising from the sand, Dubai glitters like a mirage in the desert. Now thanks to Qantas teaming up with Emirates since April 2013, this innovative UAE city is set to be the hottest new stopover on trips from Australia to Europe.
Sleep: Dubai boutique hotel Desert Palm, sprawled across a private polo estate, is stocked with enough luxuries, facilities and activities – from horse-riding to cooking classes – to last well beyond 48 hours. Only 15 minutes from the airport, this 38-room Italo-Arab retreat is the perfect city-break stopover.
Shop: For designer labels, make for Dubai’s mega malls, including the Mall of the Emirates, which boasts an indoor ski slope should you feel a sudden need for snow, and the Dubai Mall, next to the towering new Burj Khalifa spire. Italianesque Mercato is a scaled-down mini-mall with young European brands and boutiques on the Jumeirah Beach Road. Visit Deira for more traditional shopping, where the adjacent spice and gold souks saturate the senses.
Snack: Desert Palm’s Italianate café Epicure offers plenty to please the tastebuds, with Missoni-esque decor, a deli, bakery and patisserie; afternoon tea is served on the Jewel terrace.
See: To extend your stay beyond the city, Desert Palm organises several excursions to the sand (take your pick from an air-conditioned car, hot-air balloon, micro plane or camel!). Admire the best views of Dubai from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building with an observation deck on the 124th floor. If you’re visiting in March, check out Design Days Dubai, a design fair showcasing 29 regional and international galleries.
Stroll: For local atmosphere, amble along the banks of the Creek and watch the busy trading dhows. Walk from Shindaga towards Al Fahidi Street, through the old textile souk and then back along the creek until you hit the top entrance of the Bastakiya district.
Spa: Linger in Lime spa at Desert Palms for a holistic treatment (or two!). A decadent underground haven, it offers everything from manicures to 24-carat gold facials, washed down with fresh juices and a healthy spa menu.
Savour: To impress a client, bag a table at the hotel’s Rare restaurant, serving a meaty menu of rare-breed beef and game with a 500-bin wine list. At Madinat Jumeirah in town, gorge on seafood at Pierchic (+971 (0)4 366 6730). Reserve well in advance, and ask for a table at the edge of the pier terrace to soak up sublime sea views.
Sip: At Red bar and lounge settle in for a fine whiskey, a custom-made cocktail or sample some of Desert Palm’s vast wine selection.
To book any of Mr & Mrs Smith’s stylish boutique hotels visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.