Slipping into the clear water, I swim towards the waterfall and lie back, looking up towards the bluest of skies. The waterfall and the rocks from which it is tumbling may be manmade but it is nevertheless a cooling sound in the heat of the day. I slowly float beneath the fronds of a palm tree (a real one) as the Dubai skyscrapers come into view; the juxtaposition of beachside resort and gleaming city towers mesmerises me.
While I knew I would love the old town’s souks and activities such as the fabulous food tour with Frying Pan Adventures, what I didn’t see coming, on my first visit to Dubai, was just how much I would utterly adore the cityscape of bright, shiny, modern, gigantic and simply stunning Dubai skyscrapers.
Dubai is a city that has always fascinated me. It’s not my usual style city break that’s for sure – think shabby chic in Paris or exploring the ancient sites in Rome – yet for many years now I have yearned to visit Dubai, known as the City of Gold thanks to the vast amounts that change hands every day in the famous gold souks.
While no manmade structures could ever surpass Mother Natures’ handy work, the city is never-the-less a magnificent sight, rising out of the vast desert sands that surround it.
You might also enjoy: What to wear in Dubai, the only Dubai packing list you’ll ever need.
The Burj Khalifa
There is no denying that the Dubai skyscrapers collectively are impressive, yet one lone, astonishingly tall tower rises high above them all; standing sentinel, quietly watching the vibrant city at its feet.
If you have ever read my tale about overcoming my fear of heights in Bologna, you may well have questioned my sanity had you borne witness to my excitement at the prospect of ascending the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. (I think skipping was involved but let’s keep that just between us if that’s OK.)
And what a sight it is, glistening in the morning sunshine before a backdrop of deep blue sky with only a smattering of white, wispy clouds floating by. It took six years to build, finishing in 2010. Its potential successor, Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, on the banks of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, will be a staggering kilometre in height and was started last year. But for now, at least, the Burj Khalifa still reigns supreme as the tallest building in the world.
On the day of our visit, I stand at its feet and gaze up in awe of the 830 meters of smooth, shining glass that rises up before me. We’re joining the ‘At the Top’ experience, and I’m eager to start. Luckily the weather is on our side that day. Our tickets are already booked, as they do sell out, and leaving it to the last minute to check on the weather is risky (and more expensive than booking in advance online).
We are shown into a dedicated lift and start the ascent. The floor counter whizzes past numbers at an alarming rate, and before we know it, we reach our final destination, floor 125. Stepping out onto the viewing terrace I look up at the tower which still seems to carry on forever, up and up into the sky. There are another 37 floors above us. Looking down the 456 meters to the ground, the neighbouring skyscrapers take on a diminutive appearance as the city stretches out before me. The views are staggering; a not-to-be-missed experience for any first-time visitor. While I may get giddy if I look down an escalator or a steep flight of stairs, there is no such feeling here, just pure wonderment.
How to visit the tallest of the Dubai skyscrapers and the tallest building in the world?
The ‘At the Top’ experience is on the 125th floor of the Burj Khalifa. An even higher experience on floor 148 is also available. You’ll find all you need to know on their website where you can book tickets online here, Burj Khalifa. I would advise booking in advance, especially at popular times such as sunset as it does get fully booked.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai
This urban jungle made a spectacular setting for our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of the Dubai Marina District by a pristine sandy beach, lapped by the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Each time I entered the lovely garden and walked out into the warm, fragrant air, the Dubai skyscrapers greeted me and filled me with delight. Add to this the seven superb restaurants and bars, offering a fabulous range of cuisines including Italian, Asian and Emirati, five lovely swimming pools, a sumptuous spa and outstanding service; this elegant hotel made an excellent base from which to explore the truly memorable and fascinating city of Dubai.
I do have to give a quick shout out for the staff at the Ritz Carlton – every single person that I met and chatted to working in the hotel, seriously impressed me. I imagine each one of them, whether in housekeeping, management, the kitchens or the spa, had been hand-picked. Their dedication to ensuring the best possible experience for their guests was exemplary. No fussing or fake smiles, simply a warm and welcoming, first class service, with that little extra something that is hard to define.
The only thing I could say that I didn’t like was the offer of a free drink on a Wednesday evening in one of the bars, for every inch of heel a lady wore. But hey, that’s just me. And this is Dubai.
For more photographs from the Ritz Carlton, their fabulous restaurants and more of the city,
please visit my Dubai albums on Flickr. More coming soon.
You can read my review of the Ritz Carlton on Jumeirah Beach, Dubai on Boutique Travel Blog.
My thanks to the sponsors of this trip including Dubai Tourism, The Ritz Carlton, Alpha Tours and The Dubai Food Festival. As always, I will give you my own, honest opinions throughout my posts from Dubai. There are no affiliate links in this post.
Join my 'Behind the Scenes' newsletter
Delivered monthly to your inbox with all my behind the scenes news, latest posts and giveaways exclusive to my subscribers.
Travel Planning Resources
Please note that most of the following links are affiliate links which means that if you click on the link, I may be paid a small commission. You can find out more about affiliate links in my Disclaimer..
I never travel without insurance. If something unexpected goes wrong the costs implications are just too high to take the risk. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travellers from over 130 countries. They're the perfect choice for long term travellers or single trip insurance.
Travel clothes for women
Check out my guide to all my favourite travel clothes for women.
Book your hotel or package holiday
Rent a car
Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car hire prices to help you find the best deal. They search both local and international rental companies.
Book an experience
When I’m travelling, especially to a new city, I use Viator and Get Your Guide to book tours and excursions, in particular, food walking tours or to visit somewhere tricky to get to by public transport.