Curio Collection Local Guide, Dubai

We sent Yodeler Jumana Jolie to V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton to create a Dubai travel guide. This hotel features a design built around the dynamic energy of Dubai. The hotel is steps away from Downtown Dubai and key attractions. Guest rooms feature an upscale and bold design boasting a modern yet stimulating atmosphere and guests are able to delight in a delicious meal or cocktail at one of the properties five restaurants and lounges. Jumana created an incredible travel guide full of local secrets and destination tips just for you.

Name: Jumana Jolie

Occupation? I am a photojournalist

Preoccupation? Capturing remarkable urban landscapes and incredible views

Place you live? Dubai

Can you sum up Dubai? Dubai is an exciting city, rich in culture and heritage. It’s very multicultural and home to people from around the world. From the moment you arrive a melting pot of cultures surrounds you. People who visit Dubai have the unique opportunity to experience all that the Gulf Middle East has to offer, from learning about its start in the pearl diving business to its ancient trade in textiles, gold, and spices, to its evolution to one of the friendliest, safest and most fun cities in the region. Dubai has fantastic food, great beaches, and incredible parks, excellent shopping for cool souvenirs, and breathtaking experiences that many people, including a lot of celebrities, return for time and time again.

What is the best thing about Dubai? Dubai offers a welcoming taste of life from both a Middle Eastern and Western perspective. Visitors and expats feel like it’s a city where they belong; it’s exotic but also familiar. It’s the perfect destination for all types of travelers, including solo explorers and families, because Dubai is comprised of diverse communities of people who want to make your stay a memorable one. I love watching how the city has developed so incredibly fast in such a short period of time, and being witness to this growth and development is truly inspiring.

What is a perfect day in Dubai? In the morning, I’d recommend stepping back in time with a trip to Dubai’s old district Al Fahidi, also known as Al Bastakiya, a neighborhood of winding streets and alleyways offering a peek at life circa mid-19th century. Dubai’s many souks (markets) with their fragrant smells, brightly colored silks, and precious metals, are a delight for the senses and a must-see for any visitor. The best way to navigate your purchases is to bargain with the sales vendors, whether you are a tourist or a resident you should do this to get the best deal.

After exploring on the ground, opt for a view with a trip to the observation deck at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. From there, head to Karam Beirut in the Dubai Mall for lunch. Its location overlooking the performing Dubai Fountain provides a musical show while you dine on Lebanese delicacies. Start with the fattoush which is a Lebanese salad with special dressing, along with Hummus and some traditional pastries like kibble and cheese rolls. I would also recommend shish kebab and the chicken for those meat lovers. The bread they serve is complimentary as is the tradition in most Middle Eastern and Levant cuisine restaurants.

I’d spend some time exploring the mall’s many attractions – the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink are two options – then head to the beach or drive out to the desert to enjoy the sunset. You can easily find an organized guided sunset tour or tour guide who will take you to the best spot in the desert for sunset. Personally, I think Fossil Rock and Mleihn desert are the best spots. (You can request your guide to include those as part of your tour.)

What are the people like in Dubai? People in Dubai are friendly and always willing to be of assistance. It’s in our culture to be hospitable and make sure that everyone feels welcome and at home in Dubai.

If Dubai was a person who would it be? Dubai would be someone who is young, vibrant, energetic, welcoming and wise beyond their years. Although it encourages you to have a good time, it does caution you to be respectful, kind and courteous to others. Dubai is someone who is there to help you accelerate the potential of your ambitions and dreams, and also offer support when you need some assistance and guidance.

Tell us about your experience at V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton. From the moment of my arrival at V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton, I felt welcomed. A Team Member at reception greeted me warmly, and the check-in process was very smooth. I was escorted to my beautiful suite room on the upper floor. The views throughout the hotel are incredibly beautiful, and I could see all the way to the city’s beaches and also gaze at the high rises of downtown.

All of the Team Members at the hotel were so friendly. I loved how they made me feel like a long-lost friend whenever we crossed paths.

Everything from the comfort and cleanliness of the hotel to the superior hospitality of the staff made for an exceptional experience and contributed to the feeling that the V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton is a real home away from home.

What did you love about V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton? I loved V Hotel Dubai’s architecture, the views, and the incredible light that design allowed for. The ground floor lobby is a geometrical visual mix of white, blue and grey lines that run along the floor and ceiling, and with the light entering the building from outside, it feels like the lines go on and on. The design of the hotel reception exudes a simple sophistication, with immaculate details like a stunning gold wall that reflects the light and enhances the vibrantly colored carpeting. The location of the hotel is ideal and close to all the activities that travelers can enjoy. It’s just minutes away from the beach and a few metro stops to downtown and the Dubai Mall with all of its don’t miss attractions. Dinner at hotel restaurant Namu exceeded my expectations. The service especially was attentive, with the waiter even offering his recommendations for top selections from the Korean-focused menu. It’s deserving as a destination for both hotel visitors and locals. For starters, you should definitely try their miso soup (the best I’ve tried) and edamame with black salt flakes. The miso cod was my favorite with a salty but mildly sweet taste to the palette.

If a friend was visiting for 24 hours what would you suggest they do? I’d suggest starting with breakfast at Level Seven in the V Hotel Dubai. This Mediterranean restaurant offers an incredible variety of fresh and healthy options and the service is unmatched. It’s unlike any other breakfast and a terrific way to begin your day in Dubai. The pancakes are amazing and were love at first bite! They are made to order from the chef and brought to your table fresh.

Fully satiated, hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus and head to the Jumeirah Beach Residence, aka JBR. This beachfront residential area has a boardwalk lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops for exploring. Enjoy the morning at the beach and see the Ain Dubai, the world’s largest Ferris wheel (and sometimes called the Dubai Eye).

From there, I would recommend heading to the observation deck on the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, or to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Dubai’s Old Town, where you get a glimpse and feel of the unaltered parts of the city. Visitors can rent a traditional dhow boat to cross Dubai Creek and explore a spice souk. The neighborhood hosts some of Dubai’s major art fairs which are always worth a look if one is taking place. Somewhat off the beaten path but in the neighborhood are one of my favorite cafes, Arabian Tea House, which offers a great selection of teas, snacks and vegan or meat friendly options in a lovely courtyard setting. My favorite is the falafel plate and hummus to dip.

After exploring, return to the hotel and head down to the V Deck to relax by the pool, then enjoy a refreshing drink and the sunset from the V Lounge on the 30th floor.  For dinner Namu in the hotel is delicious. For more options, I’d recommend visiting the La Mer entertainment complex, which is located on the waterfront about 15 minutes from the hotel and boasts a variety of restaurants. At La Mer, you must go to Salt. It is popular among locals and visitors for good reason. Don’t worry when you see a long line to get in. Just jump in line, it will go fast. The place has a great vibe with indoor and outdoor seating areas. For a more upscale experience, I’d suggest trying Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which has several romantic and fine dining restaurants.

 

 

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City:

Dubai

Best place to eat:

Ripe Market at Zaabeel Park on Fridays from 9 am – 4 pm. (You can easily fill yourself up all the free samples.)

Karam Beirut in Dubai Mall. Its location overlooking the fountain means you can catch a musical fountain show while you dine

Best place to drink:

The clubs Iris, 40 Kong and BOA Lounge offer lovely outdoor settings for a drink

Best place to shop:

Dubai Mall

Best activity:

Outdoor: Wild Wadi Aquapark and Desert Safari for guided local tours and opportunities for exploring the sand dunes

Indoor: La Perle by Dragone, a one-of-a-kind interactive live show set in water

Local tip:

Locals are always ready to offer assistance and advice regardless of whether you are a stranger to them. If you’re visiting for the first time, just be informed of the laws and regulations in the country. Dubai is very open-minded and home to everyone from all nationalities, but it’s best to remain respectful to the culture and avoid extreme public displays of affection or revealing clothing. Some areas of the city, such as near the mosques or inside shopping areas, may be more conservative than others. In most places, there are signs posted to clarify what style of dress is permitted inside.

Where to stay:

The V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton