22 only-in-Dubai experiences to splash out on
A money-is-no-object guide to living your best Dubai life…
Dubai isn’t all Beluga caviar, Bitcoin-wrapped Bugattis and Balenciaga bling. It has a soul, it’s blessed with other worldly natural beauty, and the mature cultural scene of a city well beyond its own young years. But because, by well documented case study, it does do the high life rather well, and with an ever-growing number of six zero heroes amidst its inspiring spires, we felt the time was right to test what those blessed with excess have access to here. We’re jumping in with the jet set, tagging along with the trust fund kids, and making like the Monopoly Man, all to show you how to live like a millionaire in Dubai…
Here are 22 only-in-Dubai experiences to splash out on in Dubai.
Drive like James Bond in an Aston Martin
With all those digits burning a hole in your crypto wallet, one of your first stops will likely be picking out a new ride. And, sure, you can go for something flash and obvious like neon a Lambo, but there’s nothing that says disposable income, in quite the same sophisticated tones, as an Aston Martin. It’s what James Bond would do. So, purely in the name of journalistic research, we borrowed the keys to a new DBS Superleggera Volante. It has a 5.2-litre V12 engine delivering 715BHP, and will set you back a cheeky Dhs1.3 million + VAT. But this, in fact all language and numerically dense data, is utterly incapable of transcribing the experience of driving it. The fighter jet feels from the Mach-something acceleration; the goose flesh shivers summoned from each wild cat roar of the engine; the dropped-jaw gaze of valet drivers; the sartorially refined haute-couture, interior; the smells, the lines, the primal joy, all of it, everything about it, makes you feel a million bucks. The only problem, Mish Monnehpenneh, is that we’re not sure we can get back in a Pajero now.
Chartered a super yacht
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When in Dubai, the high-earners often tend to take to the high seas. And if you you’re determined to get involved in a ‘my deck’s larger than your deck’ contest, you’re going to need a bigger boat. A super yacht in fact. There are a number of charter companies to choose from in Dubai, but Balthazar Yachting drop anchor with absolute sea monsters. Their top-of-the-line 282ft Chakra comes with a sundeck jacuzzi, swimming pool, gym, massage parlour, piano, its own beauty salon, outdoor bar, elevators, a crew of 30 and accommodation for up to 36 guests. All for just a snip under Dhs2 million per week.
Beam a message onto the Burj Khalifa
Have a message you want to share with the world? You could go the social media route, but how much do people really pay attention when they’re deep in the doom scroll? No, you’re a big shot millionaire, so why not put them on the tallest building in the world? According to Arabian Business, Emaar will give you three minutes of skyscraper air time on the Burj Khalifa’s famous LED panels for Dhs250,000. If you’ve got the cash you can commit your manifesto to an almost kilometre-high, super-luxe billboard, just make sure you run it through spell check first.
Shop for something sparkly at Gold and Diamond Park
This city has a magpie-like passion for things that shimmer and sparkle. Wearable art, drip, ice – whatever you want to call it, if it shines bright like a diamond, it’s part of the dress code for the Forbes List and fabulous in Dubai. And if you want to upgrade your own gem game, you could do a lot worse than heading to the Gold and Diamond Park on the Sheikh Zayed Road. There’s a whole mall full of precious metals and polished rocks to covet, with options to custom design and bespoke your bling. For a traditional, classy ‘if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t say but there’d be signs’ look, head to Cara or Damas.
Travel in style on Fly Five
Getting a photo of your first-class ticket in an airport lounge just feels like you’re trying too hard. You know what the real top one per cent of the one per cent do? Get a PJ (private jet). Fly Five, a private jet charter service from Five Hotels and Resorts, gives you access to an exclusive experience on an ACJ TwoTwenty. The jet can fit 16 passengers on-board, and there’s a fully-equipped kitchen a 55-inch TV screen, and a king sized bed with ensuite bathroom. Guests are able to book flights to destinations within a 12-hour flight. How much is it? You know the rules, if you have to ask…
Snap up a holiday home on a private island
If the frenetic pace of Dubai living leaves you craving a millionaire-shortbread-crumb of solace, there are some sure-fire off-shore bolt holes for you to find your equilibrium in. But if you’re in the market for a more permanent pied-à-terre – why not buy an island, or a bit of one at least? The Kleindienst Group’s Heart of Europe development consists of a six-manmade-island network with an armada of floating ‘seahorse’ villas. The feature highlights of the seven-bedroom, five-floor Beach Palaces on ‘Sweden’ include an infinity pool with two jacuzzis, private beach, snow cave (with actual falling snow), coral garden and an upturned Viking vessel/observatory on the roof. All for just Dhs125 million.
See Dubai from the sky with a helicopter ride
HeliDubai offers a range of packages for a birds-eye view of this city of sky piercing sand castles but, top of the chops, is the private Grand Tour. For Dhs7,965 you get a dedicated 30-minute exclusive Dubai-wide circuit of top-down sight-seeing essentials (The Palm, The Marina, Downtown, both Burjs, the Dubai Frame and more). All with zero traffic, no queues, not a single tourist photo-bombing your landmark backdrop selfie, and you can get it all done before lunch at one of the many stunning restaurants in the emirate.
Invest in gold
We feel like this might be Dubai’s spirit vending machine. Yes, thanks to the novelty Gold to Go ATMs you’ll never be caught without casual bullion again. These machines allow you to buy anything from a 2.5-gram, 24-karat gold coin to a wasta flex one-ounce gold bar. There’s even an internal computer capable of updating the prices every 10 minutes to reflect realtime fluctuations in the market. UAE locations have included Dubai Mall, Atlantis, Souk Madinat and Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Abu Dhabi.
Enjoy an exclusive Arabian adventure
Doing a desert safari is a rite of passage in Dubai, it also seems to be the right of all first time visiting friends and family, to make you do it again. But how luxe can sand, wadi bashing and falconry get? Hold our gold leaf karak, we’re about to go all Bezos on your to-dune list. Arabian Adventures’ private Golden Hour Escape is a hyper-bougie desert escapade which includes all the usual safari sights and secluded sunset sips, plus a live harpist, private falcon show, a bottle of fancy bubbles and a five-course dinner at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa. If you include return helicopter transfers, you’re looking at a still very reasonable Dhs27,000.
Get your glow on with a vampire facial
Platelet-rich plasma therapy – more commonly known as a vampire facial – has become a popular treatment for people of means, to look like slightly younger versions of people with means. As you’ve probably guessed from the name, it does involve blood – just not via the Edward Cullen method. Blood is drawn from your arm, from which platelets are extracted and smeared onto your face. If you fancy checking it out, Blue Tree Clinics offer the service with prices from Dhs1,000.
Splash the cash dining experiences
A multi-sensory tasting menu at Krasota
From Vladimir Mukhin, of Netflix’ Chef’s Table fame, comes Krasota. A tasting menu that’s so avant-garde it blurs the lines of gastronomy and madness, this self-described ‘gastro-theatre’ is as much about visuals and narrative as it is the delicate eight courses it presents. Each course, or act as Krasota calls it, pays homage to a different renowned artist of the 19th and early 20th century, and is served up at a 20-seater spherical table against the backdrop of some seriously show-stopping multimedia theatrics.
Krasota, Address Downtown, Downtown Dubai, 8.30pm Sun to Thurs, 6pm and 9.30pm Fri and Sat, Dhs1,830. Tel: (0)4 433 1258. krasota.art
A chef’s table experience at Gaia
Gorgeous Gaia needs no introduction, consistently regarded as one of DIFC’s most beloved eateries. But if the elevated surrounds of Gaia’s elegant dining room just won’t do, then book the chef’s table. A private dining room that’s set adjacent to the kitchen on the lower ground floor, this is a space for guests to be cared for and cooked for while watching the culinary masters at work. Whether ordering a la carte or creating a bespoke menu, expect the finest and freshest Greek flavours in an intimate and refined private setting.
Gaia, Podium Level, Gate Village 4, DIFC, daily 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11.30pm, from Dhs5,000. Tel: (0)4 241 4242. gaia-restaurants.com
A signature golden Ottoman steak at Nusr-Et
Thanks to Nusret Gökçe’s viral salt-sprinkling video back in 2017, he’s become somewhat of a household name in the world of premium cuts. His Dubai steakhouse, a sleek eatery within the Four Seasons Restaurant Village, is a meaty ode to tasty tenderloins, sizzling striploins, and the finest fillet mignons. But if you want to go all-out at this emporium of over-the-top pieces of meat, then you’ll want to order the giant Ottoman steak, a slab of thick bone-in ribeye with mustard marination. If that wasn’t extra enough, this 1,750g cut comes slathered in a layer of gold leaf, and is yours to enjoy for Dhs5,000.
Nusr-Et, Four Seasons Restaurant Village, Jumeirah 2,12pm to 12am daily. Tel: (0)4 407 4100. nusr-et.com/tr
A romantic dinner for two at an underwater restaurant at Burj Al Arab
For a date night with a difference, you can dine against the backdrop of a tropical reef aquarium at Burj Al Arab’s underwater restaurant, Ristorante L’Olivo at Al Mahara. The acclaimed restaurant hails from Jumeirah Capri Palace and comes complete with an intimate private dining room, where couples can enjoy a special set menu of five-courses of world class seafood paired with premium wine in a show-stopping setting of soft candlelight and scattered rose petals. To complete the experience, a special message will be delivered to the couple by a skilled diver inside the stunning aquarium, and a beautiful bouquet presented at the end of the dinner is a lasting memento of an unforgettable meal for two. It’s priced at Dhs9,900.
L’Olivo at Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, 48 hours advanced notice required, Dhs9,900. Tel: (800) 3232. jumeirah.com
A private dinner in the sky at Shangri-La Dubai
While many Dubai hotels offer intimate spots for a private dinner, from beachfront setups to exclusive private dining rooms, few have the commanding views of Shangri-La Dubai’s 42nd floor terrace. Backdropped by exceptional Burj Khalifa views and a panoramic skyline that looks so good it could have been photoshopped, guests can curate their own menus for any occasion. From a family get-together to celebrate a birthday, to a swoon-worthy proposal when only the best will do, this is the kind of spot that makes for an unforgettable setting. Experiences start from Dhs4,500.
Shangri-La Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai,48 hours advanced notice required, from Dhs4,500. Tel: (0)4 405 2703. shangri-la.com
A VIP table at open-air super club, SKY2.0
Dubai’s vibrant nightlife scene is among the best in the world, and few put on a show the way D3 super club Sky2.0 does. This open-air venue returns this September after a summer hiatus, and as it does you can expect incredible DJ sets, unmatched entertainment, and the impeccable vibes the venue is known and loved for. For experiencing Sky2.0 like a star, you’ll want to book one of their VIP tables, with elevated sofa-style seating for you and up to 12 friends, complete with one of the best vantage points in the venue to see and be seen. Minimum spend price tags aren’t given out, but are around the Dhs10,000 mark.
Sky2.0, Dubai Design District, Thurs to Sat, 10.30pm to 4am. Tel: (0)4 587 6333. skydubai.com
A sommelier-led wine tasting in the comfort of your own home
What’s better than going to a bar for a knowledge-enriching and slightly hangover-inducing wine tasting? Having an expert sommelier come to you in the comforts of your own home. That’s what The Tasting Class offer, for those looking to enjoy a flight through a handpicked collection of six best-in-class bottles of grape. Led by a wine professional, who will create the entire set-up as per your needs, the educational and entertaining experience can be booked for up to 10 guests. Pick from classic wine countries including France, Italy and South Africa, or go for a grape and cheese pairing, or the new world wine option, all priced from Dhs2,500.
The Tasting Class, one week advanced notice required, from Dhs2,500. Tel: (0)50 918 6761. thetastingclass.com
Sensational suites and stays
Live like the A-Listers at Atlantis The Royal
The chosen address of Beyonce and Jay-Z for their week-long Dubai getaway earlier this year, the Royal Mansion at Atlantis The Royal is a lesson in show-stopping suite life. A two-floor emporium of only the finest luxury experiences, this dramatic signature penthouse is one of the world’s largest hotel suites. An entertainment room with 98” LED TV screen, a sumptuous terrace with glittering infinity pool and panoramic sea and skyline views are just a handful of the wow-factor faucets to this hotel room. Other notable features in this 16-room super-suite include a private elevator, Louis Vuitton ping pong table and exclusive Hermes bathroom amenities. Although rates per night aren’t given, it’s thought to be around $100,000 (Dhs367,000) per night.
Royal Mansion, Atlantis The Royal, Palm Jumeirah, rates from Dhs367,000 per night approx. Tel: (0)4 426 3000. atlantis.com/atlantis-the-royal
Check-in to the ultimate party pad at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa
A party pad with a next-level touch, the Celebration Suite at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa is a physical embodiment of the brand’s ‘Celebrate Life’ motto. Spread over 11,000 square feet, it’s perched right above the beach club, and comes with enough space to sleep ten. A private elevator takes you up to the Celebration Suite, which features Nikki Beach’s signature oceanic shades, a dining area with space for up to a dozen of your nearest and dearest, and a state-of-the-art surround sound system for throwing the ultimate bash. But the outside is where you’ll find the real magic, with a large terrace housing a jacuzzi and an infinity pool that overlooks the iconic Nikki Beach Club.
Celebration Suite, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, Pearl Jumeira, rates from Dhs55,000. Tel: (0)4 376 6000. dubai.nikkibeach.com
Bliss out with a regal escape at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
When you want to escape the city, few retreats come with the awe-inspiring beauty that Al Maha offers. A dreamy desert resort nestled within Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, just 42 villas dot the flame-hued dunes, each an aesthetically pleasing presentation of Bedouin-style luxury. Most of these luxury tents are one- or two-bedroom options, but when you book the presidential suite you get to check-in to a lavish three-bedroom address complete with a private pool for embracing the dramatic desert surrounds and around-the-clock service to cater to your every whim. When you can tear yourself away from this dazzling villa, experiences like stargazing, horseriding and private dinners on the golden sand await.
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, rates from Dhs29,400. Tel: (0)4 832 9900. marriott.com
Take over your own private villa on the Palm Jumeirah
Few things scream ‘Dubai’ like checking into your own plush pad on the city’s iconic Palm Jumeirah, itself a global symbol of luxury. If you’re looking for a big group getaway, 365 Luxury Homes offer vacation rentals that are truly jaw-dropping, like this five-bedroom, ultra-modern villa on the Palm. Home to an indoor and outdoor kitchen, open-plan living area and its own private beach, it’s as impressive inside as it is outside. Spend the day dipping between the golden sand and your frond-facing infinity pool, then snuggle up in the evening with a film in the cinema room.
Palm Jumeirah Paradise, available via 365 Luxury Homes, rates from Dhs10,500, minimum two-night stay. 365luxuryhomes.com
Check-in to a haute hotel room at Palazzo Versace Dubai
An address that needs no introduction, the iconic Italian fashion house Versace opened its debut Dubai hotel, decked out in flashy prints and dripping in gold, in 2015. The room categories at this stylish Dubai Creek property range from premier city view rooms up to the 3-bedroom Royal Versace Villa, which is where you should check in for a high-fashion, money-no-object stay. Spread over two floors, the opulent villa is covered in Versace, with the fashion brand’s signature amenities in all bathrooms, Versace sheets dress the beds and all furniture is given a Versace touch too. Guests have no need to leave their swish digs, that offers a 10-seater dining table, private swimming pool and plenty of living space, although should they chose to, there’s full access to the hotel’s array of gourmet dining and pampering leisure facilities included in the Dhs13,000 per night price tag.
Palazzo Versace Dubai, Al Jaddaf, rates from Dhs13,000. Tel: (0)4 556 8888. palazzoversace.ae