Dubai – that was on my list for a long time. A friend of mine, after a long trip to Africa, had a few days there and asked me to join her. Of course, I did. She booked the hotel, and she couldn’t have made a better choice!
The Al Seef Heritage Hotel in Dubai is right in the center of the city, but close to the Creek where there is the old center and the souks. With the taxi it is just 15 minutes (it depends on the traffic of course) from the International Airport, but you would not notice it in the hotel.
In the historical Al Fahidi district the hotel appears in a tradition of Emirati architecture. The hotel has 190 rooms in 22 traditionally designed Arabian houses. Very nice to see, with wind towers and a perfect contrast to the futuristic modern Dubai.
We arrived in the middle of the night (2 am), but there was no problem for the check-in which is 24 h/day. Friendly people helped us with the luggage (I was a little embarrassed with my little just 5 kg carry-on). Our room was on the first/second floor right on the top of the entrance. The view was amazing onto the lights of the modern looking city on the other side of the Creek.
The room itself was all designed in natural materials, had organic amenities, free WiFi, I think a TV, an espresso/tea machine and a hair-dryer in the bathroom. We had a twin-room, there was a couch, a table and chair and enough space for clothes. The two windows were to the floor but could be closed with shutters from inside as well (for privacy).
The air-conditioning was to regulate easily. We left it on during daytime when we weren’t in the hotel and switched it off for nighttime. Even though outside was a real sauna, inside it was a perfect temperature.
No noises from outside ever disturbed, we enjoyed our stay very much. Even the price was more than affordable.
The people in the hotel, very international and talking to each other in English, of course had all a perfect English and are very friendly and attentive. We got a lot of information about Dubai, where to go, they drove us near to the restaurant or the metro station, as the hotel grounds are very long-drawn-out. In case you decide to have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner in the hotel they will drive you over (and bring you back) to the main hotel which is a good 15 minutes walk away and a very modern, high building.
In my opinion the hotel is the perfect stay for being in the middle of everything but still in a calm environment.
In just a 10 minutes walk you are at the port where the little pedestrian boats leave for the other side of the Creek. There you find the busy life of the Herbal Souk and the Gold Souk. We saw both. The Gold Souk is touristy and super commercial. The Herbal Souk is interesting but you have to wander a little around to find the places were actually also local people buy there herbs and spices. I bought a good bag of Harissa, I can’t find elsewhere in Europe that easy. There are also many other shops and stores, little places where to eat something Arabic or buy some water. But be careful: we had a (sealed) bottle of still water and it was just terrible. We bought another one, sparkling and foreign water. I guess it depends on how they get drinking-water in an environment without water-wells.
Much more near is the Al Fahidi Heritage Center. It has various museums, stores and shops, a Mosque and a little precarious place for a camel mom with its calf. We got lost several times in this center when going to the Arabian Tea House for brunch. The Culture center gives you a real good glimpse into the local culture, local and foreign artists exhibitions are held and the amazing architecture reminds a little the typical Spanish Adobe style.
Very near to the hotel is also the Al Fahidi Fort and the neighboring souk.
If you want to explore Dubai, the nearby metro is the best way to go wherever you want. Fast, easy, cheap and every few minutes all day long. We visited this way the Frame, one of the many must-go places. We got lost in the Dubai-Shopping center which seems to be a half an hour walk from the metro station through elevated walkways with air-conditioning (very futuristic). A tour with the boat was not that exciting as the weather was too hazy to see anything clearly.
I definitely recommend the White Mosque in Abu Dhabi. There is an affordable tour of around 5 hours. It’s one of the most amazing places in the world.
We haven’t been on the Burj Khalifa but saw it during day-time and night-time and it just looks incredible from outside.
Book a night tour by bus! It gives you a nice view of the lights, the city is still very busy as during day-time it is too hot and everyone works and lives in the late evening. This way you get also a tour on The Palm and past the famous hotel Atlantis.
Dubai is full of attractions and offers a multitude of things and places to do and to go. Just don’t be afraid to use public transportation. They all speak a (more or less) perfect English everywhere, it is secure also for women alone during the evening-time (we saw young girls and women with children walking in the streets at night-time with no problems). The city is super efficient. There is no real dress-code but I would always recommend a moderate style and respect the culture of the country.
Al Seef Heritage Hotel, Dubai/UAE: