We checked in to check ’em out…

In a city better known for its seven-star hotels than its budget lodgings, it can be hard for the everyman traveller to know where to rest their head.

You know how it is – you just want a nice place to chill out after a hard day’s sightseeing, without all of the unnecessary (and often gold-plated) bells and whistles.

Does such a concept exist in Dubai? Believe it or not, yes, it does.

We’ve found five great hotels for under Dhs400 a night. They’ve all been tried and tested, and we would be happy for our mum to stay at any of them (when it comes to comfort & cleanliness, this is the ultimate benchmark).

So whether you’re visiting Dubai, or simply need a place to recommend to friends and family, be sure to refer to this list. We’ll be updating it regularly.

*WATCH: Here’s how you can spend a day in Dubai on Dhs100*
*How to: Get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi without a car*

1. Rove City Centre

Location: A 10-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, Rove City Centre is located in a quiet part of Deira, overlooking Port Saeed Plaza Park. Deira City Centre, a large shopping mall, is a five-minute walk away, as is the closest metro station. It’s a great base for exploring some of the city’s older attractions, like Dubai Creek and the souks.

Rover Room: Small and simple, with quirky touches – like words printed on the wall above the bed that say: “This is my happy place”, or room keys that declare: “I can open doors for you”. There’s also a 48-inch smart TV mounted on the wall. The bathroom is spotless and modern, with both an overhead rain shower and hand-held shower head. Another handy thing to note – the hotel offers a late check-out time of 2pm.

Amenities: The Daily is Rove’s onsite restaurant, which doubles as an uber-cool work and hangout space. The menu offers everything from burgers to biryani, and there’s a nicely presented breakfast buffet – think yoghurts and smoothies served in mason jars. On the ground floor, there’s a handy 24-hour Zoom mini market, while upstairs there’s a self-service coin laundry, outdoor swimming pool, gym, and even a ping pong table. The hotel often holds free events, like walking tours and art exhibitions.

Price: Rooms start at Dhs210. Visit the website for more info.

Verdict: Rove City Centre must be the best value hotel in Dubai. It has everything you need, and then some. Designers have clearly put a lot of thought and care into the details, with surprises around every corner… including a life-size, bright yellow camel statue in the lobby. What’s not to love?

2. Premier Inn Ibn Battuta Mall

Location: The hotel is linked to Ibn Battuta Mall by a pedestrian bridge, as well as the Ibn Battuta metro station. Although not right in the thick of the action, it’s only a 10-minute taxi ride from Dubai Marina, or the metro will easily get you to most of the main tourist spots. Ibn Battuta Mall could be considered an attraction in itself, as the world’s largest themed shopping mall, inspired by the medieval Moroccan explorer and his travels. It’s pretty spectacular.

Double Room: Clean and compact, with a work desk, tea and coffee making facilities, and a small sofa beneath the window. The ensuite bathroom contains a shower over bath, and though there isn’t much in the way of toiletries (some hand soap and a dispenser of shower gel/shampoo), extras can be requested for a charge. There’s also a purple light above the bed which is meant to soothe and relax you to help you drift off to sleep easier.

Amenities: A sun-soaked outdoor swimming pool and fully-equipped gym are located on the reception level, as is a Costa coffee shop. Mr. Toad’s serves up hearty pub grub and reasonably-priced drinks in a sports bar setting, while Nuevo offers Mediterranean-style fare and a decent breakfast buffet. Room service is available from midday to midnight.

Price: Rooms start at Dhs395. Visit the website for more info.

Verdict: Affordable, functional, and right on the metro line – Premier Inn Ibn Battuta ticks plenty of boxes. While its location means it lacks the buzzing atmosphere or skyline views of other hotels in Dubai, it’s still a bit of a novelty having a huge shopping mall right on your doorstep.

3. Hyatt Place Al Rigga

Location: Hyatt Place Al Rigga is located in Deira, about a five-minute walk from Al Rigga metro station. There’s nothing flashy about the area – though you will find some great cheap eats (we highly recommend Aroos Damascus restaurant, just down the road). It’s an easy metro ride to the tourist spots, and the hotel’s free shuttle service will take you to attractions including Deira City Centre, Al Ghurair Mall, Al Mamzar Beach, Dragon Market and the Dubai Outlet Mall. A word of warning: The hotel is right behind a mosque, so request a room on the quiet side if you’re a light sleeper.

Standard Room: Spacious and homely, with comfortable furnishings, including a corner sofa and 42-inch TV that swivels so you can watch it from bed. The bathroom is fitted with a huge walk-in shower and a generous supply of toiletries, but we would have preferred a little more privacy than the frosted sliding-glass door provided.

Amenities: Every guest gets a free buffet breakfast, which is a nice touch, though it does mean the restaurant gets rather hectic at peak times. There’s a fitness centre and outdoor pool, and a Jamaica Blue grab-n-go coffee shop. Alcoholic beverages can be ordered from room service.

Price: Rooms start at Dhs300. Visit the website for more info.

Verdict: Though the neighbourhood might seem a little rough around the edges, Hyatt Place Al Rigga provides an oasis of comfort at a reasonable price. It’s a hotel you’ll feel happy to return to after an afternoon of exploring the mean streets of Deira. We only stayed two nights, but could have easily stayed longer.

4. Somewhere Hotel Barsha Heights

Location: Situated in the centre of Barsha Heights, this hotel gives off a trendy, inner-city vibe. It’s handy to Media City and Dubai Marina, and a 10-minute taxi ride from the Mall of the Emirates. Dubai Internet City metro station is a 10-minute trudge, over uneven terrain (Barsha Heights seems to lack footpaths), but this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the intrepid traveller.

Executive Suite: Our room was more akin to a small apartment, divided into a living space, with a seating area and TV, and separate master bedroom with king-sized bed. There were a surprising number of bathing options in the spacious bathroom – a shower over bath AND a separate walk-in shower. There was also a spare toilet near the entrance to the room. Our only gripe was on the third floor, we had very limited views of a dusty carpark below.

Amenities: A swimming pool, fitness centre and spa are located on the rooftop, and there’s a coffee shop on the ground floor. Nay restaurant offers tasty, reasonably priced Lebanese, with al fresco seating where you can indulge in some shisha. The restaurant is also where you’ll find breakfast, a standard buffet-style affair. If you feel like staying up late, there’s a cozy music lounge called The Clavichord where you can enjoy live performances.

Price: Rooms start at Dhs289. Visit the website for more info.

Verdict: This hotel provides a stylish yet practical option for both business and leisure travellers, in an up-and-coming location. Just be sure to request a room on one of the higher floors.

5. Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa

Location: Entering the hotel lobby feels a bit like stepping into a giant souvenir shop. This heavily themed hotel is set in the historic heart of the city, right across the road from Dubai Museum. It’s a short walk from Al Fahidi metro station, and a stone’s throw away from the Bastakiya quarter, the Creek and the souks. The hotel is also near Al Seef, a brand new cultural district which is well worth a wander once you’ve ticked off the older attractions.

Executive Suite: If you like having your own space, it’s worth plumping for an executive suite, which is split into two rooms – a bedroom and living room. There’s definitely an old-timey vibe, with wooden furnishings and lantern-style lighting. One downside to this is that the room lacks a few mod-cons – we struggled to find enough plugs to charge our devices. But there are two TVs, an iron/ironing board, and tea making facilities. The bathroom is clean and spacious, with a shower-over-bath and a generous supply of toiletries. Our room on the seventh floor had brilliant views of Al Fahidi Fort (where Dubai Museum is located) and over the Creek.

Amenities: There’s an outdoor swimming pool, gym, spa and salon. When it comes to dining options, expect an eclectic mix – Mumtaz Mahal serves Indian, spiced up with live performances, while you’ll find Chinese Dynasty offering oriental cuisine one floor up. The breakfast buffet is served at Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant, which has an Ancient Egypt theme, and there’s a rather charming detective-themed English pub – Sherlock Holmes – which does a happy hour from 8pm to 2am.

Price: Rooms start at Dhs254. Visit the website for more info.

Verdict: If you like your hotels modern and minimalist, you’re probably not going to love Arabian Courtyard. But if you can get past the kitsch, Arabian Courtyard is a perfectly comfortable base for exploring one of the city’s more interesting areas.

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