One thing you must take with you on a trip to Dubai is a thesaurus. Yes, a thesaurus. Why?
So you can look up synonyms for the word ‘luxury’. This place really does have it all. We were fortunate to be able to tick this off our bucket list not too long ago and stayed in a suite at The Grosvenor House Hotel . The suite was sumptuous, the toiletries were Bulgari and the reception was opulent.
The food in the restaurants run by celebrity chefs was magnificent. You soon tire of excitedly pointing at luxury brand cars like Bentleys, Porsches and Ferraris. In Dubai, they are as commonplace as Ford Fiestas and VW Polos.
In a city that has sprung up from virtually nothing over the last 25 or so years, everything has been considered for your comfort. Air-conditioning is standard everywhere. Want to visit a gigantic shopping mall? A short walk from wherever you are takes you to the simplest metro in existence- basically, one straight line connecting the whole of Dubai. It is, it goes without saying, air-conditioned and spotlessly clean.
The malls are enormous, sprawling temples to consumerism and underline the fact that whatever Dubai wants, Dubai gets.
Ski-slope? Sure no problem.
Tallest building in the world? You got it.
Fastest lift to get to the 127th floor? Sure thing.
Tell you what, we’ll have a water slide at the hotel but let’s put sharks in a covered tank at the bottom!
Dubai is excess.
Even five-star luxury isn’t enough for Dubai, here, a whole new level of luxury had to be invented for the Burj Al Arab. It has to go one step further than anywhere else I’ve been. Even toilets in the malls are marble floored, touch-free, leather sofa equipped and look more like they belong in a five-star hotel than a shopping mall.
In a city built on tourism, and the most extreme and lavish tourism imaginable, the service is second to none. We were waiting to be picked up one morning for a trip we had booked and it was 5 minutes late.
Nothing too worrying.
Within seconds, a member of staff asked us what we were waiting for, got the name of the company, called them and asked why they hadn’t arrived.
But do you know what……
There’s something not right. Not for me anyway. Dubai is sterile. It’s perfect. Nothing happens. Crime is virtually non-existent. Everything is just so. Eating dinner or drinking cocktails in Dubai is like eating or drinking in an operating theatre. It just seems so false.
In a way, you can understand the nouveau-riche loving this place so much.It is created out of nothing. There is no substance to it. You want it? You’ve got it. If you’ve got the money.
We have been to Las Vegas and where Las Vegas is like a friendly old uncle who lets you stay up late watching telly and lets you have a sip of his beer, Dubai is a maiden aunt with a house full of ornaments. You just know that once your back is turned everything is going to be put back in its’ place and dusted down.
The only time we got a feel for the ‘real’ Dubai was on a trip to the gold souk and the markets. You get there by boat across Dubai Creek on a rickety old dhow with the water splashing onto the floor.
You get a feeling that if new Dubai had anything to do with this then you would be transported across the creek on a solid gold bridge that would emerge from the water at the touch of a button.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Dubai. I can understand why people go back there time and time again. It is a place where, if you can afford it, you don’t need to think of anything. Everything is catered for.
Well, I’m sorry Dubai, while I like what you do, I prefer my holidays with a bit more realism.
What do you think? Have you been to Dubai? Is it on your bucket list?
Let me know.