11 Places in Dubai That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

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11 Places in Dubai That Will Make Your Jaw Drop
Part Versailles, part Las Vegas, and completely unlike anywhere else in the world, there is one thing that we can guarantee about your trip to Dubai: You’ll be scraping your jaw off the sidewalk. Don’t worry, it’s an absurdly clean sidewalk. Sheikh Mohammed’s visionary playground and ultra-opulent theme park is a treat for your eyes. If you’re aiming for maximum wow factor, start with these 11 spots in Dubai that will amaze you.

All photos by Nile Cappello.
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    La Ville Hotel & Suites
    If there was ever a hotel fit for an envy-inducing vacation Instagram, it’s this Autograph Collection hotel, opened December 2016 at the eastern end of the CityWalk. The lobby’s secret-passage revolving bookcases (swoon) and pink-and-beige color palette make it more than a waiting room—it’s a hub of the property and a place to enjoy dates and Arabic coffee. Grand chandeliers, a rooftop pool with dueling views, and two impeccably designed on-site restaurants await.
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    Dubai Mall
    In many ways the crown jewel of Dubai, the Dubai Mall is decadence in its purest, most overt form: luxury shopping. In addition to superlative high-end clothing, accessory, and footwear brands, the largest mall in the world designates wings for denim, electronics (including a Virgin Megastore), and two floors of designer baby stores (think Baby Dior, Dolce & Gabbana Kids, and Fendi Kids). But the Dubai mall is, of course, not limited to shopping—it also has multiple food courts, an ice skating rink, indoor theme park, and aquarium.
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    Ski Dubai
    Sure, maybe you can navigate moguls and speed down black diamond routes—but have you ever skied inside? Hit the slopes—and check out some of the other winter activities offered—at Ski Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates, a winter mountain resort with a full-size ski lift, jumps, and cold temperatures. Passes include rentals of ski clothes and gear; even if you don’t want to go inside, it’s worth stopping by to marvel at the sports and entertainment of the future and watch the kids, many of whom have never seen snow before.
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    Just across the main freeway from the downtown city center, CITY WALK is a low-rise, outdoor mall that is similar in style to Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles. Quieter and easier to navigate than the nearby Dubai Mall, the CITY WALK is ideal for mild weather, serious shoppers, and anyone who appreciates good art installations in the form of sculptures, design features, and even decorated foliage. It also has some one of the most beautiful bathroom structures of all time.
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    Guerlain Spa
    The only spa in the Middle East from French parfumerie Guerlain, its location at the One&Only The Palm is fit for a dream. Opulent almost to the point of making you feel unworthy, the attention to detail, immaculate grounds, and expansive treatment rooms make it a spa experience like no other. Highlights include the two robes (one waffle and one plush), the pre-treatment foot wash, and the high-tech adjustable bed. Among the steam room, rain showers, and in-room vanities, it’s hard to pull yourself back into the waiting room.
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    The Palm Jumeirah
    The world’s largest man-made island (until Dubai builds something bigger, most likely), The Palm Jumeirah is a tree-shaped archipelago off the coast of Jumeirah Beach. Travelers can get a day pass from what feels like a never-ending line of luxury resorts on the outer wing. Reserve a pool cabana at the One&Only The Palm, visit the Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm, or snag pool plus beach access at Kempinski Hotel & Residences Jumeirah The Palm.
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    Burj Khalifa
    The tallest structure in the world is impressive from the inside out—whether you’re scoping it out from the Dubai Mall Fountain at the base or splurging on a dinner at the fine-dining restaurant At.Mosphere on the 122nd floor. From the observation decks or dining concepts, Dubai looks like an architect’s model town or LEGO set. It’s a one-of-a-kind view of a one-of-a-kind city.
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    With four separate “kitchens”—the robata grill, sushi bar, main kitchen, and expansive bar area—Zuma’s multi-story space in the heart of Dubai’s financial district sets the stage for a Japanese dining experience in competition with lauded Nobu. Not impressed enough? Order the “Burning History,” a whiskey cocktail finished with burnt stave smoke right in front of your eyes, and order the perfectly cooked black cod. That should do the trick.
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    Burj Al Arab
    An icon of the Dubai shoreline and in many ways what put the contemporary city on the map, the Burj Al Arab is a sailboat-shaped, five-star hotel opened in 1999—before the more recent boom in popularity and local development. Ahead of its time in conception, the Burj Al Arab’s interior decor pays homage to both modern and classic Arabic styles; the cascading atrium, all-gold 27th-floor bar, and lobby aquarium redefine the boundaries of decadence. Security is strict on non-guest entries, so visitors should make a reservation ahead of time at one of the many on-site bars and restaurants (just be sure to check per-person minimum spends).
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    Gold and Diamond Mart
    We’re pretty sure there’s no other experience on Earth that can make you feel like a baller quite like a visit to a gold and diamond mart. Even if you don’t have the funds to bring home some swag (which many people do, apparently), the displays of jewelry and collectible items are—literally—dazzling to window-shop. If you do have the cash flow to make a purchase, you’ll save on tax and have a wide selection to choose from.
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    Nowhere does buffets like Dubai does buffets—especially come Friday brunch, an all-inclusive social gathering and dress-up party. Dubai’s buffets are obsessively clean, temperature controlled, healthy, and fresh—nothing sits out too long or gets cold. Beyond the abundant epicurean options, the buffet tables themselves are works of art, arranged by appearance, course, and taste. And don’t worry—it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by your options. Deep breaths help.
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