Bucket list hotels in the UAE

/Bucket list hotels in the UAE

Bucket list hotels in the UAE

You won’t have to walk far to find a luxurious world class hotel  in the UAE, the country is full of them. As a result, we have produced our bucket list hotels throughout the UAE that we have stayed in the past, or we wish to stay in the future and why we chose them.


1. Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa

Al Maha Resort

Photo by: https://www.al-maha.com/

Although we have not stayed here it is definitely on our bucket list. If you want to experience the ‘real’ UAE with sand dunes and a stunning desert landscape this is the perfect resort. Whilst it is secluded, you will most likely encounter wild Arabian Onyx and Gazelles grazing around the resort. Two complimentary desert activities every day are also included in your stay. It is also one of the highest rated resort throughout the whole UAE!

2. One&Only Royal Mirage

Royal Mirage Dubai

Emma has stayed at this stunning Arabic designed One&Only hotel back in 2014, and absolutely adored it. Situated just off the Palm with stunning views of it from its own private beach is unbeatable. Walking along the beach you also have great views of Dubai Marina and its many impressively designed skyscrapers. We would say it is one of the best located hotels in Dubai due to the surrounding views. For food lovers, there are also 8 different restaurants with a range of gourmet dishes from around the world. The hotel itself is separated into three distinct environments, The Palace, Arabian Court and Residence & Spa, each with unique rooms. During low season, you can find great deals on this hotel, so keep an eye out if you are wanting to visit Dubai around summer.

3. Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Probably the most iconic hotel in Dubai. It is famous for supposedly being the only  7*  hotel in the world. Set on its own island overlooking the Palm, it is also the worlds fourth tallest hotel, so expect to have great views of Dubai from your hotel room! However, to live up to these standards it is one of the worlds most expensive hotels to stay in. The cost of staying in a suite begins at USD$1,000 per night and increases to over USD$15,000 per night; the Royal Suite is the most expensive, at USD$28,000 per night. Even though the average traveller could never justify spending this much on a hotel. It is definitely worthy of our list, as who wouldn’t want to stay there?!

4. Atlantis the Palm

Atlantis Dubai

Another iconic hotel, famous for being the first hotel built on the Palm. Situated at the very end of the Palm with views over the Arabian Gulf, it is impressive to say the least. It is BIG with 1,539 rooms, so don’t expect a secluded stay whilst here. The resort has an underwater aquarium, opportunities to swim with dolphins and complimentary access to the Aquaventure water park and the Lost Chambers Aquarium. Not to mention, it is also rated the best valued hotel in Dubai, for what you get!

5. Anantara the Palm Dubai

Anantara the Palm

Photo by: https://dubai-palm.anantara.com/

Located in the eastern crescent of Dubai’s man-made Palm Jumeirah harbour islands. This sophisticated, Thai-themed hotel has individual villas set around a lagoon-style swimming pool. Its large swimming pool is fringed by a beautiful white sandy beach, and the resort provides a wide range of eating options. Lit up at night, The Anantara has to be one of the prettiest resorts in Dubai. Even if it is as far from traditional Arabesque architecture as you can get. For what you get, the resort offers fairly good value for money, with rooms starting at around USD$460 a night. But do check during low season as prices may be lower.

6. Waldorf Astoria the Palm

Waldorf Astoria

Yannick has stayed at this beautiful resort on the Palm. It is located right next to the Anantara. And we love it for the value you can get out of it. Especially if you own Gold status with Hilton, you’ll be able to get their amazing suites for as much as you pay for basic rooms in the surrounding places. So yea, this is actually a somewhat affordable hotel on the palm. And the room design is amazing, probably one of the most modern in the world. The whole hotel is made of white marble, which you’ll also find in the rooms, especially the huge bathrooms.

Abu Dhabi

1. Jumeriah at Etihad Towers

Etihad Towers

Photo by: Dr. Norbert Heidenbluth via Flickr

The Etihad Towers is currently the top rated Abu Dhabi property on TripAdvisor, thousands of people cannot be wrong in loving this hotel. Emirates Towers is a mixed use office, condominium and hotel.  It includes a luxury shopping mall, should you feel the need to visit Hermes, Tom Ford or even Waitrose during your stay.  It also has a fairly good beach situated right next to it.

2. Zaya Nurai Island

Zaya Nurai Island

Photo by: https://zayanuraiisland.com/

This fairly new island resort is honestly pure luxury. Previously a small, uninhabited natural island close on the coast of Abu Dhabi. It offers well-equipped beach villas, private pools, excellent service, and a wide choice of restaurants and boat transfers, near Saadiyat Island. The island has been developed as both an upscale resort and an exclusive real estate development. The resort is mostly clustered on the north-eastern side of the island, where 32 one bedroom villas line a crescent-shaped beach. Due to the limited hotel rooms you are guaranteed privacy and relaxation, whilst only being a 10 minute speedboat ride from downtown Abu Dhabi.

3. Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resort

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort

Photo by: https://sir-bani-yas-island.anantara.com/

Another stunning island resort. However, it is slightly different to any other resort throughout the UAE. The Anantara resort is a small collection of villas surrounded by an Arabian Wildlife Park. Which is home to thousands of free-roaming animals including Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, Arabian (mountain) gazelle. As well as larger animals such as cheetah and hyena (the resort is fenced from dangerous animals). The resort feels like you are more in Africa than in the UAE, especially during sunset overlooking the savannah and surrounding landscape.

4. Yas Viceroy

Yas Viceroy

Iconically designed, and a hotel honourably on our bucket list. In addition, we has previously stayed here and loved every minute of it. If you’re a fan of the Formula 1 you will have most likely seen this hotel during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Especially after dark it transforms into what looks more like a space ship than anything else. Literally every part of this very special hotel has been thoughtfully designed so you’ll be amazed wherever you look. There are two rooftop pools, one of them with a bar, with great mood lighting all around. And best of all – go during the very hot summer months and you’ll be able to snag a room here from as low as 80USD or even one of their amazing suites with wraparound balconies and panoramic track and marina views for under 200 USD. But do your wallet a favour and don’t go for the Formula 1 weekend – prices will be starting at a few thousand dollars per night even for the basic rooms!

Ras Al Khaimah 

1. Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Photo by: https://www.banyantree.com/en/em-uae-al-wadi

If you’re looking for somewhere to relax, unwind and switch off from the world and enjoy total isolation for a few days then the Banyan Tree Al Wadi is the place for you. Located in Ras Al Khaimah, the UAEs northern most emirate. The Bayan Tree group is synonymous with luxury and relaxation but also sustainability of the environment and the surroundings of where their resorts are located. It is the UAEs first desert resort and spa to offer an all-pool villa concept with a dedicated nature reserve, including Arabian Gazelle and Oryx. For golf lovers you also have access to Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach and eighteen-hole championship golf course at Al Hamra Golf Club.

2. Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach

Ras Al Khaimah Beach Banyan Tree

Photo by: https://www.banyantree.com/en/em-uae-ras-al-khaimah-beach

And last but certainly not least is this great beach resort. Also by the Banyan Tree hotel group. Stretched along a private white sandy beach and fringed with desert greenery, the resort is an impressive illustration of love twined with adventure. Again like the desert resort, this is an all pool villa resort capturing the magic of personalised dwellings in the shape and form of traditional tents. The Spa is not on site, but it is located just 20 minutes away by complimentary shuttle. It is actually the Banyan Tree Al Wadi Spa and the facilities are impeccable. As it is not in the main cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, during low season you may be able to grab a great deal on this hotel, so keep an eye out!

Do you have any further questions, additional hotels you think we missed, or you just enjoyed and found this guide useful? If so, do not hesitate to comment below on your thoughts! We love hearing from you guys! ???? Happy Travels!

Please note, some of these links in our post contain affiliate links. Although it does not cost you any more by booking through it, it sometimes does give us a small commission. We would never advertise or partner with brands we do not use. And of course we do need to keep Luxurybackpacking up and running in order to help you find great deals too!

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By | 2017-01-11T09:27:47+00:00 November 7th, 2016|Middle East|9 Comments

About the Author:

Hey! We're Emma and Yannick! A travel blogging couple who met in Thailand in 2014. We've currently travelled to 43 countries with no plans to stop! We travel the world in luxury, without paying the price for it, through travel hacking and insider knowledge. Through this, we love to help and teach others to travel well for less, just like we do!


  1. Christina November 8, 2016 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Love the idea of this post. As someone who loves to splurge on hotels I found this pretty awesome! Great info with a variety of different luxurious hotels. Life is too short to stay at so many amazing hotels. What to choose what to choose 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Katrina | Aqua & Ink November 8, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Definite bucket list hotels! I am adding all of these to my iPhone notes list of hotels…. Maybe one day I’ll get to stay in one!!!

  3. Clare November 8, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I have never put hotels in a bucket list but I guess that’s because I always stay in hostels and can’t afford to. They look like great hotels and maybe one day when I am making money from my blog I will be able to have a few nights of luxury in places like these 🙂

  4. Lewi November 11, 2016 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Such a great list. Just makes we want to go there now and stay in them all. Its hard to pick a favourite but i think the Atlantis the Palm looks most appealing to me!

    • Luxurybackpacking November 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Lewi!
      The Atlantis is amazing, especially looking at it from the outside and also their food buffets! But if you want a more modern design, head to the Waldorf Astoria or Zaya Nurai Island 🙂

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  5. Vyjay November 13, 2016 at 12:35 am - Reply

    All these hotels are spectacular and the heights of luxury. Many of them have featured in movies too. The Atlantis is the pick of the lot for me. It is really magnificent.

    • Luxurybackpacking November 14, 2016 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Vyjay!
      Yes we agree, in Dubai it is SO hard to pick a hotel as there are just so many! The Atlantis is definitely unique and has got a lot of charm and character, so we are not surprised it is your favourite 😀

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  6. Flunkingmonkey November 14, 2016 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    This is great! I’m actually planning to go to Dubai next year with some family members! I just sent it over to them as we’re looking for hotels to stay at! Thanks for the help 🙂


    • Luxurybackpacking November 15, 2016 at 12:11 am - Reply

      Hey Flunkingmonkey!
      Dubai is an incredible city, you will have an amazing time for sure! That’s great glad we could help. All the hotels we have picked are world class and any would be perfect! If you have time, make sure to head out to the desert on safari!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

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