Dubai is a destination well worth a visit. The Arab state has deserved its spot as one of the world’s most spoken about tourism destinations and has something to offer for anyone. No matter what kind of vacation you like, you will find it in Dubai. The choice of activities range from a relaxing beach get-a-way to an inspiring cultural trip. Even for the most experienced thrill seekers, Dubai has whatever you are looking for. You can choose for a day in one of the waterparks, racing through desert dunes or you can even go sky-diving above the famous Palm Jumeirah.
While the diversity of Dubai is what makes the destination attractive to many, it does make it difficult to find the right area to stay. And to make the difficulty of choosing worse: each type of activity makes another area the best to stay at.
Finding the best area of Dubai to stay in is easy for sun seeking tourists, where you obviously have to stay at the beach, it isn’t easy for those trying to combine everything Dubai has to offer. Fortunately, public transport and taxis (or Ubers) are relatively affordable in a city where anything else costs a lot.
Areas to consider for Dubai hotels
Areas to stay
Dubai is a huge city. When you look at a map of hotel options, you can see that your hotel options, or short term rentals in Dubai, are stretched over tens of kilometres of coast line. Distance from the city centre, normally a good way to navigate, is useless in Dubai. It is easy to get confused and it is difficult to judge what the best place to stay is. That is why we listed the best areas to stay. We travelled to Dubai ourselves in October 2021 and stayed at both Palm Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai’s Business Bay. We decided to change hotels to make the most of our stay in Dubai.
Best area to stay to avoid crowds
Dubai isn’t your traditional tourism destination that suffers from overtourism. In most areas you will find fellow tourists but it never gets very crowded. There is one exception: the Dubai Mall and the fountains in front of Burj Khalifa. This area arguably is the busiest area of Dubai and will be the area you want to skip if you want to avoid crowds in Dubai. Especially evenings can get very busy.
Dubai’s Deira district
Dubai’s Deira district is one of Dubai’s oldest districts. The area lies at the Dubai Creek and is a vibrant part of Dubai which feels like the modern day entrance into the fascinating old Arab world. This is the area where you can see some of the ‘older’ Dubai buildings and find the bustling Souks, including the famous Gold Souk.
The area has many hotels, both upscale as well as more economic options. No matter what your budget is, the hotels in the area have on thing in common: staying here is a lot more affordable than anywhere else in Dubai. Getting around is also easy, an Uber to downtown Dubai will take you about 20 minutes and will cost you around 60 AED. Public transportation is also easy as the area is connected with the green Metro line.
Dubai Downtown / Business Bay
Another great place to stay is downtown Dubai. This is where you can find the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world as well as many other highlights. The area offers plenty of activities to do such as the world’s largest Mall: the Dubai Mall including the famous fountains. Some architectural masterpieces can also be found in the area such as the Dubai Museum of the future and other stunning skyscrapers. Despite its proximity to some of Dubai’s major attractions it is also home to surprisingly affordable options.
This area offers seemingly endless hotel options. Prices range from budget to some of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels that only the elite can afford. The area is easily connected with the rest of Dubai through the Dubai Metro red line. Taxis and Ubers are easy to get and much more affordable than in other large metropoles of the world.
The Dubai Marina lies at the foot of the famous Palm Jumeirah. It is an area full of things to experience and see. It comes with major malls, beautifully designed beaches and luxury hotel chains. It also has beach clubs, famous restaurants while boosting a more relaxed vibe than downtown. The area is also connected with the red metro line and offers easy access to the Palm through the monorail.
This area gets a bit more expensive. The hotels around here are mostly from well-known luxury hotel chains. There are budget friendly options to discover, but those aren’t easy to find. Booking early and doing your research well is highly recommended. Getting around is easy and if you can afford it you will most definitely love your stay.
As soon as you enter the Palm, luxury is all around you. This area of Dubai is all about offering you the perfect luxury beach vacation. If you want to stay in this area, you better have deep pockets. Hotel options include the famous Atlantis hotel, Waldorf Astoria, W hotel and Sofitel. Although normally expensive, there are some deals or more affordable alternatives to be found in the area.
The Palm itself is a destination. If you can afford it, the hotels on the man made peninsula offer the ultimate vacation experience and the Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis is one of the best experiences we have ever been to. Transport wise, the area isn’t the best connected and you should be ready to rely on taxis or Uber. But if you can afford to stay here, the costs of transportation are unlikely to be a problem.
Best Dubai hotels based on the type of traveller
Dubai offers endless different hotel options. The range is insanely large. From budget hotels to ultra-luxury. Each type of traveller is interested in other kind of options. That is why we made an overview based on the most common type of travellers as well as for those interested in EXPO2020.
Dubai hotels for the budget conscious traveller
Finding a good budget hotel deal is not easy. The best way to save money is to travel in low season. But obviously, the warm weather, will not make that the most pleasant option. If you are traveling in peak season anyway, the best area to stay in Dubai for budget conscious travellers is Deira. The area gives you easy and affordable access to the rest of the city through the Metro system. Deira is also home to some of Dubai’s best highlights itself, including the Souks and the Dubai Creek.
The best hotels for sun seeking beach tourists
If you are looking for a vacation at the beach, Dubai has everything you are looking for. There is about 300km of beaches in Dubai and options range from mid-scale to ultra-luxury. Some of the most popular areas include the Dubai Marina where many hotels offer direct beach access amongst lots of other entertainment options. For those looking for staying at luxury beach resorts, the Palm Jumeirah has some of the world’s most renowned and well known resorts. One of the options here is the famous Atlantis the Palm resort where a stay includes access to the world’s best waterpark (personal opinion 😉).
Hotels for the traveller that wants to experience everything Dubai has to offer
If you want to experience everything that Dubai has to offer, you need to make sure you are able to move around. In that case a hotel location that is central and has access to the Metro is key. Anything close to the Red Metro Line is a good option. Knowing it can be extremely hot in summer, we recommend staying really close to an actual Metro station. Options around metro stops in Marina Bay as well as downtown Dubai are endless ranging from budget to extremely expensive.
Where to stay for EXPO2020, best hotel options
EXPO2020 is organized away from most other areas in Dubai. The area sits at the end of the Metro Red Line which was especially extended to offer easy and direct access to Expo. While you can’t, or shouldn’t, try to stay near or at the EXPO2020 terrain, there are endless opportunities to stay. We would recommend staying anywhere in or near a Metro train station. You can find both budget and luxury options anyway around the Red Metro Line. Obviously the closer your hotel is to the end of the Metro line, the quicker you are able to get to and from EXPO2020.