Opened in 1997, this was the first of Dubai’s über-hotels, a luxury colossus mixing five-star style with a memorable dose of architectural pazazz. Designed in the shape of an enormous wave, the hotel remains one of southern Dubai’s most instantly recognisable landmarks, particularly striking from a distance when (from certain angles and with a little imagination) it looks like a giant breaker about to crash into the sail-shaped Burj al Arab next door.
Despite having been overtaken in the glamour stakes by more recent hotel openings (not least the adjacent Burj al Arab), the hotel remains one of the nicest places to stay in the city, attracting a lively but unpretentious crowd of honeymooning couples and families.
The hotel is particularly good for children, with one of the city’s best kid’s clubs and a huge swathe of sand to muck around on. There are also assorted watersports and one of the city’s best dive centres, while couples will enjoy in-house facilities which include the superb 360° bar and the perenially popular The Apartment nightclub – not to mention a huge array of bars and restaurants. Most of all it’s the brilliant location which really sells the place, right next to the Wild Wadi waterpark (to which hotel guests get free admission) and within spitting distance of the Madinat Jumeirah, while the drop-dead-gorgeous views of the neighbouring Burj al Arab are worth the admission price alone. Rates aren’t cheap, admittedly, but well worth a splurge.