Category Archives: Dubai

Stags Only: The best bachelor holidays


Planning a bachelor party with the boys? Skip Las Vegas and Bangkok and try these holiday ideas from ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY.


So you’re getting hitched and your wild lifestyle is threatened by an Extinction Level Event (read marriage). Mad drunken parties with the boys, binge eating, dirty weekends, scanning dance floors and bars for fun, checking out the ‘scene’, ah the joys of bachelorhood… All this might seem history to the groom apparent, however, your friends couldn’t care less. They just want you to ride into the sunset of marital fidelity with all guns blazing. The idea is to go out and have fun. Here’s how to make it a bachelor party to remember… or forget!


Get high in Dubai
What better way to celebrate with your mates than getting high together? And what better place than the world’s tallest building and the loftiest observation deck? Just short of a kilometer (828 m, 160 stories) At The Top in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is as high as it gets. Make it special with a signature taster menu (caviar, truffles, foie gras) at the stylish SKY lounge and Atmosphere restaurant at level 148, manned by top chef Jerome Lagarde.

But there’s no reason you can’t get higher! Feel the adrenaline rush as you skydive from 13,000 ft over Palm Jumeirah or get on a hot air balloon, chopper, gyrocoptor or a Sea Wings seaplane for an aerial tour. Dubai is the place for bad boys to have a good time, with dune-bashing, belly-dancing and adventures like Ski Dubai (Middle East’s first indoor ski resort) and iFLY Dubai (indoor sky diving and wind tunnel experience).


Easy rentals make it easy to zip around in your dream luxe car or set sail on the Persian Gulf in a luxurious yacht with Jacuzzi, barbeques and champagne. Pimp it up with model hostesses, resident DJ and bouncers. And if you don’t mind getting wet, strap on a hydrojet equipment and get set for shred sleds, jet packs and jet blades.

Stay in style at Palm Jumeirah at Anantara Resorts as you go party-hopping at Sanctuary in Atlantis nearby, Zero Gravity, White Dubai, Trilogy, Rattlesnake, Ku-Bu, Cyclone or Ibiza club Blue Marlin, a weekend-only beach bar. With Dubai’s diverse expat mix, it’s like attending the UN’s sorority bash.

Jet Airways flies to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

For more info,


Get lucky in Hong Kong
For King Kong fun, head straight to Hong Kong. Terrific street food, night markets, rooftop bars, a vibrant ‘scene’ and the world’s largest permanent light and sound show Symphony of Lights; what’s not to like? The central party district of Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai and SoHo buzz with bars and clubs like Magnum, Volar, Play, Dragon-i, Ce La Vi, the world’s highest bar Ozone at Ritz Carlton and Aqua Spirit rooftop bar overlooking Victoria Harbour.

To up the ante, take the hour-long ferry to Macau, a mecca for boys who like to party hard. Like HK, a Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Portuguese presence in Macau over four centuries gives it an exotic appeal – from its food, culture to architecture. Having the world’s highest population density (20,497 people per sq km), two islands south of the mainland Coloane and Taipa were joined in a massive land reclamation project to form the Co-tai Strip, a 5.2 sq km gambling haven.


In 2007, it turned the tables on Las Vegas as the world leader in gambling revenue. Most of the 30 million visitors to Macau are drawn by 24-hour gambling at the 33 casinos and integrated resorts – Venetian Resort, City of Dreams, Sands Cotai, Galaxy Macau Resort and Wynn Palace, which opened this year. Event planners like Ludih can help you organize the ultimate stag bash with stretch limos, VIP access at clubs and private parties in luxury hotel suites.

Jet Airways flies to Hong Kong

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Go beer guzzling in Germany
Beer by the tankards or ‘ein mass’ (one measure in a large mug), pigging out on red meat (sausages to steaks) and busty bier mädchen (beer maidens) dressed in dirndls (Alpine peasant costume) and tight-fitting bodices that make Hooters seem like a church choir; Germany is custom-built for a boys’ week out. Beer Bike Tours combine two of the best German specialties – beer and engineering – plonk with your pals on stools around a small bar and quaff beer while pedaling your beermobile. It’s a good way to burn off what you’ll put on.

Drive from north to south Germany on the Deutsch Fachwerke Strasse (Half-Timbered House Road), checking out local brews at the 1200 breweries between Bremen and Munich. Pop in at Munich’s famous beer hall Hofbräuhaus and the Bier & Oktoberfest Museum. Or head straight to Berlin, legendary for its hedonistic club scene and endless party hours. There’s hardly a block in Berlin without a bar though the top spots are in the hipster district of Kreuzberg.


Check out Berlin’s oldest biergarten Prater or rent a raft and float down the Spree River. Go dancing at the open-air Club der Visionaire off the Spree or Matrix in an abandoned train station – almost every club in Berlin is built in an abandoned something! Split up into smaller groups to get into clubs like Sysiphos or the infamous techno haven Berghain.

The German love for kink is apparent in strip clubs like Golden Dolls or CP Club and adult entertainment venues like Artimis and Kit Kat Club. For a mad time, visit during the 16-day long Oktoberfest (mid-September to first Sunday in October)! Don’t forget to take home a stein (no, not a stain but a stoneware mug) as a memento.

Jet Airways flies to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from where its codeshare partners Etihad and KLM have several connections to Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin.

For more info, visit


Rum tasting in Mauritius
If you were considering Mauritius for your destination wedding or honeymoon, your bachelor party might be a good way to scope it out. Sensuous Sega dancers and fire-eaters by the beach, endless rum tasting sessions at rhumeries like Chateau de Labourdonnais, Chamarel, L’Aventure du Sucre and Saint Aubin and riding out to reefs for diving or snorkeling with the boys; Mauritius is not your average lazy tropical paradise.

There’s a lot for the adventure enthusiast – SeaKart, UnderSea Walk, Sub Scooter and Submarine tours with Blue Safari (the only sub operation in the Indian Ocean), the world’s third longest zipline and Quad Biking at La Vallée des Couleurs and Casela Nature Park. And if you’re into golf, there are over a dozen world class courses.


With all the action packed in a relatively small island nation (65km long, 45km wide) and plush beachside resorts like Shanti Maurice, Sofitel Imperial and Radisson Blu Azuri, no adventure is far away. Dine on the best of French, Caribbean and Creole cuisine and wash it down with rum macerated with tropical fruits and spices.

Jet Airways flies twice a week from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to Mauritius

For more info, visit


Bar hopping in Dublin
Few cities have the pulse and vibe of Dublin where the pub, the poet and the pint are seemingly inseparable. The Irish are a friendly lot and it’s easy to strike up a conversation, make new friends and party like a local. Start your pilgrimage with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and their St James Gate Brewery where they teach you everything from how to pour the perfect pint o’ Guinness and how to drink one!

For a traditional Dublin pub experience with a live band, Irish music and food, The Merry Ploughboy Irish music pub is a must do. Wowing audiences since 1989, they even have a pick-up and drop facility from town. Go on a Dublin Literary Pub Crawl with quirky book-themed tours in the footsteps of famous authors through Dublin’s cobbled streets. Professional actors double up as guides performing from the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.


Sounds too dense? Hit the Temple Bar area to wet your whistle at Kitty O’Shea’s, The Hole in the Wall and The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub that opened in 1198. Not into beer? Take the scenic Giant’s Causeway Coastal route and head for an Irish whiskey experience at The Old Jameson Distillery (reopening after a makeover in March 2017).

Jet Airways flies to London, from where you can fly to Dublin or Belfast.

For more info, visit


Go Down Under in style in Australia
If you’re all set to change your FB status from Single to Married (or It’s Complicated), go down under in style by celebrating Down Under. Base yourself in Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) and you’re just a hop, skip and jump from all the entertainment – bars, restaurants, gentleman’s clubs and a variety of shows. Plus, in CBD, the trams are free!

Stay at Citadines on Bourke Street or check into luxe tents at St. Jerome’s with scenic views and bespoke brewery tours run by the Temple Brewing Co. For whiskey tastings, there’s The Humble Tumbler, Bar 1806 and Whisky & Alement. Australia is the perfect place for XXXX fun and we don’t mean Castlemaine!


Take the fun out to sea with a stripper cruise or have a poker party with topless barmaids and nude waitresses. Drive out of town with your mates to Philip Island for surfing and to watch penguins, seals and wallabies in the wild. The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit which hosts the Moto GP in October also has a 720m go-karting track. Continue the party on the Great Ocean Road past the Twelve Apostles to Sydney if you have more time… and stamina!

Jet Airways flies to Singapore, from where its codeshare partner Qantas flies to Melbourne and Sydney

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Island hopping in Indonesia
Imagine this. The moment you land in Bali, you and your Wolf Pack is whisked from the airport to your private pool villa in Semenyak where party girls welcome you with chilled Bintangs. Your pool party has its own DJ, with VIP access to top clubs at night and cruising on a luxury yacht with your bevy of beauties. Yes, in Bali, everything is possible.

If you don’t want to depend on an event planner, DIY, but don’t DUI. Choose a regular hotel in the main tourist hub of Kuta so you’re never far from action. Catch the sunset at beach shacks like Ku De Ta, Potato Head, Cocoon or Mozaic, then go late night clubbing at Sky Garden in Legian. The next day, recover with Balinese massages and foot reflexology. In the posher precinct Semenyak, you can have your own pool villa with party spots like Bounty, Mirror and Koh close by.


Fly out to Labuan Bajo in Flores, where you can go diving and deep sea fishing or head out on a boat trip to Komodo Island to watch giant reptiles. With getaways like Sulawesi, Lombok and nearly 18,000 islands (of which 8844 are named and 922 permanently inhabited), you are indeed spoilt for choice.

Jet Airways flies to Bangkok and Singapore, from where its codeshare partner Garuda Indonesia flies to Bali

For more info, visit


Glamping in Oman
Oman may not seem like the most obvious choice for a bachelor party, but if you’re looking for good clean fun, the Desert Nation has quite a few surprises. Smoke sheeshas on the sands like a Bedouin, swim in wadis with barbecue parties at Wadi Bani Khalid, trek in the Al Hajar mountains or go dune bashing, quad biking and sandboarding with your buddies at Sharqiya Sands.

But perish the thoughts of basic ‘Abdullah and the Camel’ sort of tents, Desert Nights Camp will spoil you silly with glamping (glamour-camping). Tents fit for sultans dressed up with plush rugs and drapes, the nomadic strains of the darbouka (stringed instrument) and oud (percussion) and the tantalizing aroma of barbecued meat, Oman is as sensory as its aromatic frankincense. Fly from Muscat to Khasab for 4X4 drives across rugged terrain and luxury dhow cruises with dolphin spotting and snorkeling at Telegraph Island.

Jet Airways flies to Muscat

For more info, visit


Explore the coffee shops of Amsterdam
Amsterdam has all the ingredients to threaten your marriage, so go at your own peril. A lot of the stuff illegal elsewhere is legit here. Much as the city likes to shrug the tag, over half a million tourists are drawn by visions of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Amsterdam’s legendary coffee shops, currently trimmed down to 220, come with elaborate menus offering everything from Moroccan Ice to Malana Cream for a Cheech & Chong stoner holiday.

There’s no better example of Amsterdam’s drug tolerance than Bulldog Leidseplein, formerly a police station, decorated with criminal artifacts! Scour the top forty listed in the local Mellow Pages: A Smoker’s Guide to Amsterdam and pop by at the award-winning Green House, The Grasshopper or Barney’s for a hit. The Cannabis Cup in November used to be a great time to visit until the recent clampdown. Another mandatory pitstop is Amsterdam’s red light district De Wallen, where you’ll learn a new meaning to the term ‘window shopping’. For those racked by guilt, look out for the “Pimp Free Zone” sticker.

Jet Airways flies to Amsterdam

For more info, visit


Get unreal in Montreal

With its trendy bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, every sort of club, Montreal is not called Sin City of the North for nothing. Get party girls to go clubbing with you, visit lap dance bars, try naked sushi or get your freak on at Kamasutra Club and Club Supersexe. St Laurent is a buzzing entertainment quarter while Crescent Street has great bars like Mad Hatter and Churchill’s, which has daily happy hours.

Montreal has a certain French flair and many time their bachelor parties in time for the cold winter sports season (thus justifying the need for warmth) or events like the jazz festival. Looking for an all-expense paid pre-arranged tour? Connect with

Jet Airways flies to London Heathrow from where its codeshare partner Air Canada flies to Montreal, Toronto and other destinations

For more info, visit

Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This is the unabridged version of the article that appeared in the October 2016 issue of JetWings International magazine.


The High Life: Dubai De Luxe


From diving for pearls to touching the skies, Dubai has come a long way. ANURAG MALLICK lives the high life…

Downtown Dubai

Tom Cruise may have climbed, rappelled and swung around Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol but I wasn’t letting that deter me from dining calmly at At.mosphere, the 122nd floor restaurant in the world’s tallest building. Ushered past the quiet Armani Hotel reception by a graceful hostess to the express elevator, in 45 seconds, I was transported 670 feet to the world’s highest restaurant ‘from ground level’. The change in air pressure is so drastic, you’ll be popping more than the bubbly.

A cantilevered staircase connects the restaurant to the lounge with the best view in Dubai. Our mission impossible? A nine-course festive ‘taster’ menu of Oscietra caviar, Maison Soulard foie gras, Portugal Langouste, truffles, oysters and sea scallops. It was as if Ethan Hunt had sleepwalked onto the sets of Casino Royale with the memory of Jason Bourne. Thus stuffed, the only danger lay in rolling off while admiring the view…

At.mosphere Dubai (54)

Two floors up, the world’s highest observation deck, At The Top, was voted recently as the ‘Best Attraction’ in the world. Storming the 2015 Worldwide Attractions Awards, Burj Khalifa surpassed tourism heavyweights like London Eye and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

The viewing deck also came second to the Empire State Building in the ‘Best Observation Deck’ category and was voted the ‘Most Romantic Attraction or Tour 2015’ alongside the Eiffel Tower. The fireworks display from Burj Khalifa easily ranks among the most spectacular year-end celebrations.

Seawings Seaplane Taking Off

While Burj Khalifa offers a terrific bird’s eye view, it is quite another thing to leave the stationary perch and see Dubai from the air, like a bird in flight. SeaWings, Dubai’s ultimate luxury excursion, took off from Dubai Creek for a 25-minute seaplane tour of the city. Barring 5 minutes each for take off and landing, it was 15 minutes of pure flying time. The New York Times calls it the No.1 thing to do in Dubai for good reason. The 10-seater Cessna Caravan cruised along the coastline past landmarks like Port Rashid, Dubai’s old port that’s now a cruise terminal.

It’s only from the air that the 300 man-made islets of The World Islands, using sand dredged from the sea, can be seen in the shape of a world map. Most are still uninhabited, except the Sultan’s pleasure playground ‘Greenland’ and ‘Lebanon’, the only island in commercial use. We flew past Downtown Dubai’s skyscrapers, dwarfed by the Burj Khalifa. The iconic sail-shaped Burj Al Arab stood like a yacht at the edge of the Arabian Gulf, almost poised to set off.

SeaWings seaplane tour-Burj al Arab 2015-12-17 18.15.19

There was a collective gasp as the seaplane swooped towards the fronds of Palm Jumeirah. Nakheel Group’s flagship artificial archipelago is Dubai’s most exclusive address with several mega hotels like Waldorf Astoria, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Atlantis. Shaped like an Arabic portal to another dimension, Atlantis featured extensively in Shah Rukh Khan’s heist flick ‘Happy New Year’, described by critics as ‘Ocean’s 11 written by baboons’. Indian cinema is huge here and the world’s first Bollywood-themed park is slated to open this October. SRK is a big celeb here as well and owns a villa (k..k..k..K-93) at Palm Jumeirah.

“That’s where I’m staying,” I pointed to Anantara’s unmistakable orange gabled roof on the eastern crescent. Another gasp and envy, as we splashed down near Jebel Ali Golf Resort where my chauffer-driven Merc whisked me back to Anantara at Palm Jumeirah. The word Jumeirah is derived from the Arabic jamilah, meaning ‘beautiful’. And it sure was! The blue waters of the Persian Gulf looked so inviting one could jump in. Fortunately, my lagoon villa provided the perfect opportunity to do so. Overlooking an exclusive beachfront, The Beach House serves excellent seafood and signature cocktails like ‘After the Storm.’

Anantara The Palm Dubai 2015-12-18 10.46.25

After a relaxing spa session in the new Turkish hammam, I headed to the in-house Mekong, Dubai’s top Pan-Asian restaurant, where I was welcomed with miang kham, a traditional Thai snack of roasted coconut shavings, chilli, ginger, garlic, shallots, peanuts, dried shrimps and raw mango, wrapped into a betel leaf. Miang kham translates to ‘eating many things in one bite’.

In the dimlit interior, I leafed through the menu – it came with its own clip-on torch. My steward Sunday (born on a Sunday in Myanmar) suggested that despite dining alone, I should try the ‘sharing platter’ of spring rolls, crab cakes, satay and chicken pandan. Sunday made my day.

Mekong-sharing platter 2015-12-17 21.34.53

Now I’m a big fan of eating local and purists may question the logic of eating Thai in Dubai! But with 200 nationalities making Dubai their home, there’s mind boggling cultural and culinary diversity. Lebanese, Japanese, Turkish, Mexican, Egyptian, French, Italian, American diner, Australian Outback, you name it, they got it. Like the UN went to a party and forgot to report back to duty.

There are other multi-cultural cities too, but Dubai is unique because expats comprise nearly 80% of its 2.45 million population. So whatever the cuisine, it’s top-notch. Here, they throw around ‘Michelin star chef’ with the same casualness as we use ‘hotel management course from Switzerland’ in India.

La Serre bistro

As a city, Dubai believes in the best, the biggest and the tallest. After seducing immigrants with tax-free income and quality of life, it provides every avenue to make sure they spend it all. And the more you spend, the more you must earn. It’s a neat little cycle; a whirlwind ride that’s easy to get in but hard to get out of! Over 50 shopping malls – Ibn Battuta Mall, Deira City Centre, Dubai Marina Mall, Burjuman Centre, Mall of the Emirates with its own indoor ski slope and Egyptian-themed Wafi Mall – let you buy any brand or product in every variation possible. However, Dubai Mall took not just the cake, but the entire boulangerie.

It was as if someone went to God or Santa Claus and made the most impossible wish. “I want the largest and best mall in the world”. (Granted) “Er… with a Dancing Fountain and an Aquarium. And the world’s largest collection of sharks and rays. (Will 33,000 marine creatures do?) “Ya, but behind the world’s largest acrylic panel! And an Ice Rink, with intermittent snowfall like the real thing.” (Ok…) “Hang on, also a waterfall, across four floors.” (Anything else?) “Umm maybe a dozen fiberglass divers plummeting down the cascade? And a 155-million-year old dinosaur to round it off.” (OKAY already, it will have every goddamn thing you ever need!)

Dubai Aquarium

Spread over 13 million square feet (and still expanding), Emaar Group’s Dubai Mall also has its own indoor theme park SEGA Republic, the world’s largest sweet shop Candylicious, the largest shoe store in the world by Chalhoub, a 22-screen cineplex with 4-D, edutainment zone KidZania, a Gold Souk, Hamley’s from London, Bloomingdale’s from New York and Galeries Lafayette, their only store outside Paris.

And a flight simulator for Emirates A-380, the largest aircraft in the world, because you always wanted to fly a plane, right? With over 1200 stores, you can be here for a while. Thankfully, we had a buggy for the mall crawl and Karim from Emaar as our guide. Amidst all the action, it’s easy to miss the daily show at Dubai Fountain (every half hour 6-11pm) just outside the mall.

Anantara Thai long tail boat ride - Burj al Arab view 2015-12-18 12.14.07

Dubai wasn’t always like this. Its humble origins lay in a nondescript fishing village of makeshift dwellings, home to Bedouins who depended on pearling, dhow making and trade. In the 1930s, the Japanese learnt how to artificially manufacture pearls and road and air travel reduced the dependence on boat building.

Dubai lived in relative obscurity till the discovery of oil in 1966. Though Dubai’s foundations were laid on oil and gas, its present economy is run on real estate, gold, diamonds and free-market capitalism. “Dubai, Do Buy, get it?”, my Sri Lankan guide Wickeramasinghe cackled at his profound joke.

Dubai Creek 2015-12-18 18.34.02

The best place for a sense of the old traditions is Dubai Museum, housed in the Al Fahidi Fort built in 1787, the oldest existing building in the city. The 20-seater abra (boat) ferries passengers across the creek from Bur Dubai to Deira, the old commercial quarter with its gold and spice souks. For a dirham it’s the cheapest thrill to be found in Dubai.

Cheaper still is hearing Malayali men in thick accents selling ‘Rolllexxx and original fake watches.’ A more leisurely experience is the Thai long tail boat ride at Anantara – ‘a touch of Thai in Dubai’. It was a lazy cruise to Dubai Marina past parked yachts and looming skyscrapers. The danger was, you could get used to this life of luxury…

Al Mahara-Line caught sea bass with almond sauce, black truffles and forest mushrooms 2015-12-18 15.52.06-2

By Day 3, I was ordering ‘Grilled tiger prawns a la Provençale with crispy olive polenta’, like I had been having polenta for lunch everyday back home. Google informs you, in chaste Devanagari, that polenta’s Hindi equivalent is ‘Makai ki khichdi’. Perhaps I wasn’t too far from the truth. “So what did you have in Dubai?” “Umm… khichdi”. Nah, polenta was fine.

That’s the thing about fine dine – it makes anything sound good. Before being presented with magical flourish, nearly every dish was preceded by a 1-minute introduction, as if it were nobility, listing its pedigree and parentage. When confronted by words like Moelleux and Cremeux that you might mispronounce, ask for recommendations and snootily confirm.

Al Mahara interior 3

The sheer choice in Dubai is mind boggling – dine next to a ceiling-to-floor aquarium in the opulent Al Mahara restaurant at the 7-star Burj Al Arab or al fresco by Jumeirah Beach at Four Seasons’ SeaFu, dig into a whole seabass baked in salt crust at the Chef’s Table at La Serre or try Indian cuisine with a twist at Atul Kochhar’s Rang Mahal.

After eight elaborate courses in Rang Mahal’s orange and black interiors dominated by massive temple pillars, we hankered for dessert and were frostily informed, ‘The chef is painting.’ We wondered if this was indeed a tall tale in the world’s tallest hotel JW Marriott Marquis, when five minutes later the Dessert Canvas of assorted Indian sweets was presented like Modern Art. “Is that Gouda?” “No that’s Gaudi”, went my imaginary conversation with the steward.

Rang Mahal

That’s Dubai for you, where dessert can be made into art and an oasis can be carved out of a desert. Clearly no mission is impossible, if you have the audacity to dream it. Despite a slowdown after the 2009 economic crisis, development continues at a furious pace. Dubai Creek is being deepened and extended through the city.

The heritage quarter of Al Bastakiya is being shaped into a Historic District. Large scale construction with buildings, cranes or South Asian workers in overalls are seen in every frame. If Dutch comfort is ‘Thank god it’s not worse’, Dubai lies at the other end of that scale. ‘We know it’s great, but it will only get better.’

Burj Khalifa - 148 floor


Getting there
There are several direct flights from India to Dubai International Airport (3-4 hrs). Emirates, the national carrier, boasts the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.

When to visit
Weather-wise Nov-Mar is the best time to visit, with big sporting, entertainment and shopping events all year round – Dubai Shopping Festival (1 Jan-1 Feb), Dubai Food Festival (25 Feb-12 Mar), Al Marmoom Heritage Festival and camel race (April), Al Gaffal Dhow Race (May), Ramadan/Eid (June), Dubai Summer Surprises (July-Sep), among others.

For more info, visit,

Anantara view from Lotus Lounge 2015-12-19 12.58.05

Where to Stay

Anantara The Palm Dubai
Ph +971 4 567 8888
Located on the eastern crescent of Palm Jumeirah, the Thai chain offers excellent lagoon rooms, beach pool villas and the only over-water villas in the UAE.

St Regis, Al Habtoor City
Ph +971 4 435 5555
Dubai’s newest 5-star hotel that’s centrally located on Sheikh Zayed Road. A grand staircase, huge chandelier and excellent food at its specialty restaurants like Brasserie Quartier. Try the ‘Brunch at the Manor’ on Friday.

Al Mahara lounge 2015-12-18 16.27.26

Where to Eat

Al Mahara, Burj al Arab
Ph +971 4 301 7600
Sheer opulence with gilded interiors and a giant aquarium; try the sea bass with Almond Sauce, Maine Lobster with seaweed butter or poached tsarkaya oysters in cucumber and apple broth

At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa
Ph +971 4 888 3828
French cuisine by Michelin chef Chef Jerome Lagarde, the Lounge has a minimum spend policy of 200 AED per person at lunch and 250 AED for dinner, with guaranteed window seating. The same seating privilege for lunch at the Restaurant will set you back by 500 AED. The festive menu comes for 880 AED.

Mekong, Anantara The Palm Dubai
Ph +971 4 567 8304
Rickshaw style seating at oriental tables with overhead lights in bird cages and excellent Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. Try the sharing platter – crispy spring roll, Vietnamese spring roll, Tod Mun Goong (Thai shrimp cake), Plah Goong (prawn salad with lemongrass), BBQ minced prawn on sugarcane skewer, Gai Hor Baitoey (Chicken pandan), Chicken satay

Mekong 2015-12-17 21.34.22

Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis
Ph +971 4 414 0000
Indian cuisine with a twist by Atul Kochhar; the Navratan Menu features Chowk kee Aloo Chat, Lasooni Scallops, Meen Moilley, Limbu Rubiyan, Tandoori Murg & Gosht Boti Korma

La Serre, Vida Downtown Dubai Hotel
Ph +971 4 428 6969
Classy Parisian-style café with boulangerie on the ground floor and upstairs bistro in white, serving Med fare like Tarte Flambée, Burrata with tomatoes, Lentil salad with pickled vegetables, Rigatoni with white truffles and the most succulent Grilled veal chops

Sea Fu, Four Seasons
Ph +971 4 270 7777
Asian-influenced dishes presented Med-style in a cool, loungey atmosphere overlooking Jumeirah Beach. Great for sundowners; try the Sea Fu platter, homemade seafood fettucini and crispy prawn with wasabi lemon dressing.

SeaFu-Fettucine with seafood

What to Do

Sea Wings Dubai
Ph +971 4 807 0708
The 40-min Dubai Silver Tour takes off from Dubai Creek near Park Hyatt and costs AED 1695 per person. They also do Dubai Creek heritage walking tours.

Dubai Museum
Ph +971 4 353 1862
At AED 3, it’s quite a bargain for insights into Emirati culture and the history of Dubai in neatly laid out galleries in an old fort. Also has a souvenir shop near the exit.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Ph +971 4 448 5200
Located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall, the 10-million litre aquarium can be viewed from a distance for free, besides a range of immersive experiences like cage snorkeling, scuba dive and encounters with rays, otters and sharks for AED 100-200.

Author: Anurag Mallick. This article appeared as part of the Cover Story ‘Experiential Holidays: International Special’ in the March, 2016 issue of Outlook Traveller magazine. Read the story on OT at