Dubai is an eclectic mix of high-end style and old-world charm with its over-the-top architecture and gold-dipped glamour. After just 48 hours in this bucket list destination, I was excited about my curated gourmet culinary experiences and one-of-a-kind adventure.
Since Dubai is a place of superlatives, it made sense to stay at theArmani Hotel Dubai, situated in theBurj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, located next to the world’s biggest shopping center, the Dubai Mall. Opened in 2010, this ten-story hotel with 160 rooms and suites is the first by fashion designer Giorgio Armani. It’s no surprise that everything here is tastefully designed, bearing all the Armani signature details a the carefully curated space with palatial stone floors, zebrawood panels, and custom-made furnishings.
At.mosphere is conveniently located upstairs, and just one of the many advantages of a stay at Armani Hotel. At.mosphere is the peak of fine dining in Dubai, both literally and figuratively. Situated on level 122, just a few floors down from the At the Top observation deck, we enjoy a delectable cold seafood tower of king crab legs, poached prawns, salmon sashimi and oysters, while taking in the spectacular panoramic views of the city below.
Since shopping happens to be a favorite pastime of mine, I would be remiss if I did not mention the hotel’s secret passageway to the magical home of the Dubai Shopping Festival and one of the world’s largest shopping malls in UAE. After lunch, accompanied by a hotel representative, we navigated our way through Armani Dubai’s private “guests only” entrance into the Dubai Mall.
What followed next could only be described as a whirlwind tour of the city, touring an eclectic mix of past and present landmarks that often reside next to one another side by side. Perhaps my favorite from the day was enjoying the old-world charm of its textiles, gold and spice souks in the historic part of the city. As I shopped row after row my way through the colorful galaxy of sensory sensations, talkative vendors from the various stalls pushed mounds of aromatic herbs and spices spilling from large baskets at every turn. It was both overwhelming and culturally intoxicating.
With no shortage of fabulous restaurants in this glimmering city, our culinary expectations in Dubai did not disappoint. That evening we dined at Pierchic; a stunning over-the-water dining experience with captivating views of the iconic Burj Al Arab across the Arabian Gulf. A multi-award winner situated at the end of the pier at the Al Qasr Hotel. The restaurant features al fresco dining on fresh seafood delicacies and stylish rickshaws that transport guests from pier to door. Dubbed one of the “most romantic” restaurants in the city, its Mediterranean seafood menu inspired by the world’s oceans offers sets the gold standard with delectable “melt-in-your-mouth” dishes that are presented exquisitely. We dined on the raw marine appetizer of wild bass carpaccio, yellowfin tuna hamachi and Canadian lobster ceviche, fresh caught turbo as the “fish of the day” complimented with marine risotto and their signature dessert, “the Pearl”.
One other opulent dining experience that left an indelible memory was our next evening indulging at underwater seafood restaurant Ossiano, located inside Atlantis, The Palm with floor-to-ceiling views into its breathtaking aquarium. Its vibrantly hypnotic atmosphere with a front row seat to over 65,000 species of marine life co-existing, left me in awe yet the views did not compete with its sophisticated seafood offerings that tasted as incredible as its surroundings. The five-course experience menu included Kelly Oyster starter with hibiscus and ginger granite, caramelized black miso cod with homemade linguini pasta and my favorite course the Alaskan King Crab on a crispy baby gem lettuce, complimented by granny smith apples for a bit of acidity topped with seasonal edible flowers.
A trip to Dubai would not be complete without experiencing Bedouin life with a luxury desert safari. The next morning, a “safari captain” with OceanAir Travels picks us up from our hotel via four-wheel drive Land Cruiser for our private tour and we are whisked an hour outside the city to the Lahbab Desert. Arriving at the Al Khayma Desert Camp to begin our adventure, this Dubai desert safari was the highlight of my trip. Absorbing the desert charm on camel rides through the red dunes, partaking in sand surfing, snapping phenomenal panoramic photo ops and an exhilarating dune bashing ride in a small caravan. Feeling desert chic with a splash of nausea (definitely load up on your Dramamine prior to dune bashing) we finished the safari enjoying a touch of Arabia at their authentic desert camp with brunch and Arabic coffee.