When Rich and I compiled our top three hotels of all time, two out of the three were Thai. Our Friday night takeaway treat is invariably a Thai meal. And my favourite pudding, by a country mile, is mango and sticky rice. So it was a no-brainer that for our break to Dubai we chose a Thai themed hotel.
Now this was a pretty special holiday for us as it was our last one abroad as a family of three. We wanted to escape the grey drudgery of January and really relax before a newborn turns our world upside-down. We were keen to go somewhere kid-friendly yet still a bit sophis, somewhere warm, and somewhere that wasn’t ridiculously far on a plane. Ohhh, the plane journey. After an ultra stressful flight back from Tenerife last year which involved Lyra screaming ‘Out, out, OUT!’ for over an hour and trying to open the plane door mid-flight, I was dreading the journey to Dubai. However, it was a dream. She’s nearly three now, so she had her own seat and TV, and as Rich would say, was happy as a pig in sh*t. Initially she was a tad suspicious of the headphones but explaining that they were ‘earmuffs’ soon did the trick. I even got to watch three films. Unheard of. (The Light Between Oceans…watch it if you get the chance).
I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years when I was little, so as soon as I stepped off the plane, it sounds strange but I felt at home. The smells, the vast plains of dusty concrete, even the Arabic language. One half-hour taxi ride from the airport (most of which was accompanied by Lyra insisting she was going to be sick which thankfully didn’t come to fruition), and we arrived at our hotel on the Palm, a strange but impressive man-made and palm-shaped island.
The Anantara Hotel
I loved the tuk tuk theme that they have going on at the Anantara. Upon arrival Lyra was presented with a bright pink T shirt emblazoned with a tuk tuk (they know the way to a two year old’s heart), and after check in we clambered into a tuk tuk which took us and our suitcases to our room. You can even dine in little tuk tuks in one of the on-site restaurants. Now that we’re back home, when recounting all the various forms of transport, Lyra naturally adds ‘tuk tuks’ to the list.
Our room was spotless, comfy and elegant. All quintessentially Thai: dark wood, crisp white linen and sumptuous fabrics. The five restaurants were great – in particular the Aussie one – and somehow managed to cater for both Rich and I and our love of good food, and Lyra and her most unadventurous of kids’ palates. We were staying half board and this was the one down side…the cost of the food that wasn’t included was ridiculous. TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS for a club sandwich?!
By the end of our five days there we had gotten into a nice routine. Breakfast would be accompanied by Lyra having a glittery pink unicorn painted on her arm. (The kids’ facilities and staff were ace. On one occasion Lyra was crying because she had fallen over, only for a fairy-godmother-esque member of staff clad in traditional Thai dress to appear bearing a balloon animal. No more crying.). Then to the pool for a couple of hours swimming/sunbathing/jumping in/chatting to ‘Mr Ant’. And then at 2pm a bell would ring, signalling Rich’s favourite time of the day – the snack boat. This was a long tail boat that came floating around bearing beer, cocktails and fruit. The virgin mojitos were nearly as good as the real thing.
Out and About
There is so much to do in Dubai. Shopaholic? Head to the malls. Thrillseeker? Head to the theme parks. Culture vulture? Head to the souks or the desert. Being six months pregnant, the most adventurous thing I did was to spend a day shopping and then meet up with Lyra and Rich for the fountain show, but I am desperate to go back and do ALL the stuff.
The only other ‘excursion’ we went on was to check out the Lost Chambers Aquarium at the Atlantis Hotel, and this was the highlight of the holiday for me. I am surprised I’m saying this because I don’t even like fish. (Sea Life Centre? Meh. The Aquarium inside the Dubai Mall? Unimpressed). However the Lost Chambers Aquarium at the Atlantis was like stepping into a beautiful underwater cavern straight out of Indiana Jones. Huge floor-to-ceiling panes housing fish as big as humans, and cushions to lie down on and stare up at the sharks and the shoals. I could have stayed there all day.
And Dubai? I could have stayed there all month.
What do you lovely readers make of Dubai? If you’re heading there soon then be sure to check out our City Guide for more tips.
And if any of you pregnant ladies are in need of a maternity swimming cossie like the one I’m wearing in the slider then pop on over to Asos. Annoyingly they seem to have stopped selling it in black but the red version looks just as nice.