An insider’s guide to Dubai

All that glitters is probably actual gold in glamorous Dubai, but aside from sprawling shopping malls, luxurious spa treatments and extravagant hotels, there are plenty of other things to discover on a Secret Escape to one of the world’s most luxurious cities.
Where to eat

Friday brunch in Dubai is a must and one of the best and most extravagant is still at Al Quasr, where you’ll find every food and drink under the sun spread across this luxurious hotel’s ground floor. Think lobsters, ice-sculptures holding sushi plates, a cheese room and all the Moet you can drink.

For something completely different, vodka shots, borscht and feathers, tights and tassels abound at Russian restaurant Troyka in Dubai’s Ascot Hotel. You’ll be talking about the bizarre live entertainment for weeks. Dine in a classic car in The Garage (Ramee International Hotel, Deira), or head to the Cuban inspired Malecon – one of Dubai’s best budget hotspots for live Latino music, drinking and dancing all week long (Dubai Marina Beach Resort & Spa). Where to drink

Contrary to popular belief, drinking is not only allowed, it’s practically encouraged in Dubai. The flowery-shirt wearing staff in the Madinat Jumeirah’s Trader Vic’s will keep spirits high, literally, with their Tiki Tiki cocktails, and if you have a craving for karaoke, the cosy confines of Harry Gattos in Emirates Towers won’t disappoint.

Ladies are spoilt for choice on Tuesday nights, when drinks are cheap and sometimes even free. Rock Bottom, Double Decker and Longs Bar are expat favourites but for something a little classier and less likely to make your shoes stick to the floor, ladies drink for free on Tuesdays at Amika, half price on Tuesdays at Caramel, and for free on Fridays at Margaux. Check the internet for updates before you go.

Beaches and parks

Most of the parks in Dubai are either free or extremely cheap to visit. Jumeirah Beach Park and Al Mamzar Beach Park cost just 5 AED to enter and both have great facilities. Safa Park in Jumeirah, or Creek Park along the Dubai Creek are good for a picnic or a kick around with a ball if it’s not too scorching outside.

Horse riding through the desert or even a forest is possible too, if you head to the Equestrian & Polo Club at Mushrif Park (90 mins, 300 AED). Zabeel Park has a nice boating lake to help you catch some rays in style, or get fit with the free running track and outdoor gym equipment at Al Barsha Pond Park.