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Dubai As A Family Of Three

Author: Lisa Soeno

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.

Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno
This post may include affiliate links.

34 thoughts on “Dubai As A Family Of Three

  1. This holiday looks amazing!! I’m longing for some winter sun as I look out the train window on the way to work on this very gloomy morning. I know noone likes to talk money, but do you mind me asking how much this break cost? I’m desperate to get away in the first few months of 2018 and I want to know how far I can stretch our budget. And you look bloody fabulous! Wish I looked that good whilst not pregnant!

    1. It really was! I think it cost about £2500 in total so definitely a splurge but worth it for a special occasion. And bless you for your lovely comments x

  2. Love love love Dubai! I go a lot for work but often tag a few days holiday time at the end, seem to find something new every time amongst the ever changing sky line. Sounds like you had an amazing time!

    1. Thaaanks Lucy 🙂 It really was heaven and the perfect temp…about 21 degrees. It snowed here the day after we went so we were lucky as if we’d have left a day later our flight would probably have been cancelled! x

  3. What an interesting post Lisa, I have never considered Dubai because I didn’t know it was so family friendly (we have a little boy who is 2) so really useful. Love the recommendations of what to do as well.

    1. I don’t think we’d have considered it until one of Rich’s colleagues went on a family holiday there and loved it. It’s all about word of mouth! x

  4. The Anantara looks amazing! My friend is planning to go to Dubai and is looking at staying there – will send her this just in case she hasn’t made up her mind!

    We went to Dubai in December and I would love to go back. We did lots of the touristy things (highly recommend doing a desert safari… the dinner cruise, not so much but that might have been because I got dragged into taking part into the entertainment…!) but I’d like to go back just to relax.

    We stayed on the JBR Walk which was great for restaurants and the beach, but not so much for getting around. But the hotel put on shuttles to all the main attractions and also provided towels, mats and parasols for the beach which was very handy!

    I have to say, even though I want to go back, the whole place is really bizarre. Roads still being built, the whole layout is not very well planned and everything to the complete extreme. I definitely think you have to embrace it for what it is and not take it all so seriously (but that might just be me!)

    1. Ahhh I REALLY want to do a desert safari! The entertainment sounds intriguing, you have to tell me more?!

      Yes I did think the same with the whole weird road system on the Palm however we didn’t really venture far from the hotel x

      1. It was so embarrassing! The guy did some traditional dancing and then went around and picked four ‘lucky’ ladies to take part – he picked another girl on our table and then grabbed my hand as he passed! My husband thought it was hilarious and recorded the whole thing…!

        Desert safari was epic – we did it in a hummer which made the whole experience even better I think! The guide was driving one-handed up and down the dunes, no seatbelt, whilst we all bounced around in the back (even with seat belts!)

  5. I want to go to Dubai now. I’d never have thought there was so much for kids there.

    I stayed in an Anantara hotel in Thailand years ago and absolutely loved it. However, it did not have a snack boat, a phenomenon which is now on my bucket list.

    Also, Lyra is so adorable. That hair! x

    1. All hotels need a snack boat Tracy M!

      Now googling Anantaras across the world. I bet staying in one in Thailand was brill.

      Her hair is OUT OF CONTROL! I keep saying to Rich ‘I’m going to take her for her first hair cut this weekend’…but it never happens… x

    1. Bless you Anja, thank you! She IS adorable 95% of the time!

      Definitely show it to your husband. Late Valentines present maybe?! x

    1. Oh my gosh this is a post in itself. We were only backpacking when we went so very different budget. However for my birthday Rich booked us a couple of nights in the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok which was excellent and even if you don’t stay there then you need to go to the Skybar – an open air bar at the top with incredible views across the city. (One of the scenes from The Hangover was filmed there).

      My favourite place in Thailand was Chiang Mai – loads of art and culture and a really chilled vibe. The Four Seasons Hotel looked OUT OF THIS WORLD and I would love to go back and stay there.

      Another favourite place was Pai – a tiny little hippie village near Chiang Mai. We stayed in the Lilu Hotel which was a tiny family run affair that is so small that it doesn’t even have a website but it did have the coolest all-concrete bathrooms.

      Koh Tao was beautiful and ideal if you want to learn how to scuba dive.

      A must do is a cookery course…this one was fab:

      Another must do is an Elephant Sanctuary:

      You get to feed and wash the elephants, truly amazing experience. x

      1. Thank you, my daughter would love the elephants! We are thinking Bangkok, Chiang Mai and then a week at the beach to recover (probably Railay). Will look at Pai…sounds just up my street!

        Cookery course sounds fantastic…wondering if I can wangle a day kid free for that.

    2. I second Lisa’s recommendation for Chiang Mai Rachel. I loved it there, it has a really nice vibe. There’s a really good night market and loads to do. We also did the elephant sanctuary, which was an amazing experience. We did some bamboo rafting and visited the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple (apparently the King of Thailand built it on the spot where his favourite white elephant died – I have no idea how they got the materials that far up the side of a mountain). Definitely my favourite part of Thailand.

      And Lisa – I WISH I had thought to do a cookery course while we were there! #fail

    3. I third Lisa and Tracy’s Chiang Mai recommendation – we spent three weeks in Thailand on honeymoon and Chiang Mai was hands down our favourite place! The night market, Doi Suthep, getting amazing massages at the local spas, the tuk tuk rides, everything was just wonderful. We were also lucky enough to stay at the Anantara (which was the Chedi Chiang Mai but got taken over the week before we went out!) which was out of this world. We did a full day cookery course with A Lot of Thai which was fantastic – the BEST mango sticky rice!
      Bangkok was an eye-opener but our hotel (the Banyan Tree) was stunning and the cocktails at its rooftop Vertigo bar were the perfect accompaniment to the amazing views.
      And we finished with a week at the Six Senses in Koh Yao Noi which was pure heaven! Ooh, memories! Would love to go back but not ready to brave long haul with a two-year-old!

      1. This makes me want to go back!

        Tracy M/Amy did either of you get a massage from one of the inmates at the women’s prison?! Now THAT was an experience!

  6. I am keen to visit Dubai but the husband isn’t keen on the Middle East for some reason. My best friend goes to Dubai every year and stays at jumeira beach and she raves about it, she says it’s so so relaxing and the people are lovely and it has a bit of everything so I’m working on him indoors.
    We went to Thailand and stayed in koh Samui and loved it!! It was our fave holiday, Im keen to visit more parts of Thailand and also Vietnam and Borneo. Once our house is finished off it’s holiday time lol! X

    1. I’m with your best friend Alex…you need to get convincing your hubby!

      We liked Koh Samui too but it rained most of the time we were there. Yey to holiday planning x

  7. Looks gorgeous Lisa! And Lyra is too cute. I’m definitely going to convince hubby to go to Dubai next year soon ice to hear it’s child friendly. We just got back from Khao Lak in Thailand with our 10 month old. Can highly recommend it as a destination (Chong Fah resort was fab) but the journey was epic and not in a good way!!

    1. Oh Zoe I feel your pain! (However it’s nice to hear my child is not the only one!) Khao Lak looks stunning, surely it was worth the epic journey ? X

  8. We booked the Anatara Dubai last week…. you have made me even more excited to go now!!! Glad to hear it’s family friendly, we are taking our 2 year and 4 month old!!

  9. We’re off to Dubai and Thailand in the summer!! Will be slightly different this time with a 5 and 3 year old in tow but hopefully they’ll love it.
    Will check out the aquarium xx

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