Sunday, May 15, 2022

    Budget vs. Luxury – hotels and experiences in Dubai

    Budget or luxury? A question that we probably all ask ourselves when planning our travels. We compare both options in Dubai.

    It’s time for a new series! My colleagues and I keep reporting on our travel experiences. Flights paid for with miles and luxury hotels from the reisetopia hotels portfolio play a particularly important role here. But that is not always the case. We also like to move off the beaten path, although of course our travel experience also plays an important role. This also tends to lead us to move along these two paths during a journey. But what is actually worth more? We are investigating the question in Dubai.

    Luxury in New Dubai

    We are starting this new series in Dubai. Both worlds could hardly be more clearly separated from each other in this emirate. Dubai has also become a popular travel destination in this country during the pandemic. Dubai actually has the right offer up its sleeve for every budget. We start with luxury in Dubai, more specifically at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai.

    The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

    As the name suggests, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai is part of the Marriott hotel chain. For me, the choice between the many different luxury hotels in Dubai was quickly clear. I really wanted to check out the JW Marriott in Dubai, which by the way is the second tallest hotel in the entire city. The JW Marriott is located in the new part of Dubai, close to downtown and Business Bay.

    The reception at the hotel was already special. We were greeted by several members of staff just outside the lobby and directed to a separate check-in for Marriott Bonvoy status members. Personally, I’m a big fan of the loyalty program and the hotel chain itself. In terms of style, I like Marriott hotels much better.

    The room at the JW Marriott Dubai Marquis was pretty much what I expected. A high-quality hotel room with a focus on comfort and efficiency, as appreciated by business people. The room is not necessarily large (especially by Dubai standards) but has everything you need for a comfortable stay.

    The breakfast buffet is particularly impressive. Although the large room is more reminiscent of an all-inclusive resort on Mallorca, the selection is particularly convincing. There is an unbelievable range of offers at over 20 different stations. You can get just about anything from Chinese and other Far Eastern dishes to Indian breakfast options and typical European dishes like eggs and pastries.

    By the way, the breakfast was only included thanks to the booking through Reisetopia Hotels. Because despite my status membership at Marriott Bonvoy, I don’t always get a free breakfast. Not very luxury-like. In return, we were able to benefit from this and other advantages such as the free room upgrade. However, we already booked a corner suite, which is why the upgrade was only on a higher floor with a view of downtown Dubai.

    A sham world in luxury?

    Well-rested from breakfast and well rested, you can explore downtown Dubai particularly well from the JW Marriott Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is a maximum of ten minutes away by car by taxi or Uber. That mainly depends on how the traffic is.

    When you think of Dubai, the images of the new city center with all the skyscrapers and shopping malls come to mind. Every traveler should be aware that this is of course not the original and original part of the city, but rather an open theme park for all the adults. However, that doesn’t mean that you should skip this part for a real vacation in Dubai.

    On the contrary! The Burj Khalifa is spectacular and was a must see for us despite the high entrance fee. The area around the world’s tallest building with the Mall and the fountain is also impressive and should definitely be seen. The same applies of course to The Palm Jumeirah and the beach of Jumeirah. In both places, modern Dubai can be experienced particularly well.

    In addition, the southern location on the edge of the city center also offers the ideal starting point to get to Expo 2020 quickly, at least by car . The journey time is around 20 minutes. There is also a metro station around the corner that will take you directly to the exhibition grounds outside of the city in the direction of Abu Dhabi.

    Budget in Old Dubai

    Crossing the river towards the airport takes you to the old part of Dubai. Many locals lived here until recently. However, these seem to be increasingly leaving the center of Dubai and settling in houses on the outskirts. Old Dubai is dominated by many workers from abroad. It was worth a visit for us and we were able to experience many interesting encounters.

    The Hilton Garden Inn Al Muraqabat

    Because not only Max joined us here, but also the many people on site were open and helpful. We already experienced that when we arrived at the second hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn All Muraqabat . This hotel was chosen simply because it is the cheapest Hilton hotel in Dubai. The Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat is just a few kilometers from the airport, making it ideal for an overnight stay with a late arrival or early departure.

    Rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn are clean, but a bit dated and a bit cramped at times. Still, the room is perfectly adequate to explore the city from this side of the river for a few days. The bedroom itself offers a king bed, a comfortable chair with ottoman, a desk with an ergonomic chair and a television. Unlike Max, we were also lucky that we had a direct view of the airport.

    That was also another reason for the hotel. Because from the roof, where the pool is also located, you can ideally follow the take-off and landing movements at Dubai International Airport. While this fact made Max and I very happy, I was disappointed by the breakfast. However, if you come from a luxury hotel, the expectations should generally be significantly adjusted.

    What bothered me most was the chaos that prevailed there. While the Hilton Garden Inn also has an egg station, the queue lined up to get to the chef — and that’s where the bread and waffle station was. In addition, the Hilton Garden Inn also offers other warm dishes, as well as cold cuts, yoghurt, muesli and various juices. Coffee is served directly at the seat. So if you only look at the breakfast and ignore the other factors, Hilton once again does a great job at this hotel.

    In any case, the Hilton Garden Inn has convinced me more than the main Hilton brand itself. In addition to the breakfast offer, which in my opinion is much better, this is mainly due to the general advantages of the status membership with Hilton Honors . Because unlike at Marriott Bonvoy, status members already get a free breakfast here.

    The real Dubai?

    Despite the many great experiences in the new part of Dubai, we missed the connection to the original culture. Mosques can be found everywhere, but in most cases they are not readily accessible to tourists. Other original facilities in the new part of Dubai are also sorely missed. Only one suq was replicated in the Dubai Mall. Here you will find typical dealers for fabrics and jewellery.

    The really big and old souks can only be found in the old part of Dubai, with Deira as the most well-known part of town. Here is also the large Gold Suq and many other well-known Arabic markets. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that this part of the city is not necessarily intended for tourists. Although the streets are clean, Arabic is actually spoken more here than English. In addition, the condition of some buildings is significantly worse than on the other side of the river.

    What was also very noticeable, by the way, was that during our taxi rides in the new part of Dubai, people always kept their distance from us. Apart from a “Hello” or “Good-Bye” we rarely heard anything else. However, that all changed with the drive from the JW Marriott Dubai to the Hilton Garden Inn in Deira. The driver was extremely open and told us a lot about the old part of Dubai, its previous and current residents. We also held many interesting conversations here on all further journeys until departure.

    Conclusion on the travel experience in Dubai

    Dubai is definitely a fascinating travel destination. Without Corona, I might never have flown to the United Arab Emirates, but quite apart from the really great Expo 2020, a visit to Dubai is also worthwhile. Both sides, both budget and luxury, offer their clear advantages and disadvantages in this special case. For a relaxed experience I would definitely always choose the JW Marriott in Dubai. The hotel corresponds to my style and with its location and a great little pool on the terrace, it offers the ideal opportunity to get to know the city and escape from everyday stress at the same time. For a much more authentic experience, I would recommend a hotel in Old Dubai. People are feeling much more open to tourists who choose this side of the river. But you should definitely accept compromises in terms of luxury. In any case, both possibilities create special experiences, but on different levels.

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