Christmas in Dubai
If you follow my Snapchat especially you’ll know I spent Christmas away with my husband and our two boys.
We decided to go away for Christmas probably around September time. We knew we were in for a hectic few months in the run up to December so I really liked the idea of going away. When we were deciding on where to go I said to my hubby if we’re going at Christmas time I want to be guaranteed the heat. So the main place that kept coming up in conversation was Dubai.
We’d been before – 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Ollie actually, and we loved it.
Personally I think the best time to visit Dubai is from October to April – the summer months are crazy hot there, personally I’d hate that if we had the boys with us.
The weather in December was perfect for us, 27 most days. It was really gorgeous.
So we packed up all 5 suitcases!! Honest to god travelling with small kids is a serious business. The clothes, the ‘just in case’ clothes, the nappies, the toys, the blankets, the buggies.. It’s just mad. You’re ready for a holiday by the time you’ve prepared for it!
Not to mention my own gear… I’ll admit I’m not a light traveller, I bring way too much make up and beauty products, of course I don’t use half of them because let’s be honest you don’t have the time but still, I always do!
We flew out on Dec 16th with Emirates. They were a dream to fly with. I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough. Everything was seamless from start to finish, and they were amazing with assisting us with the boys.
The flight time is just under 8 hours. Emirates fly direct from Dublin to Dubai.
It’s a long flight with 2 kids but I wasn’t too concerned as we’d flown with them both a couple of times already. I wasn’t at all concerned about Ollie. He’s 4 this April and he’s certainly been on more flights than I ever was at his age. (I keep reminding him how lucky he is!) I flew to LA with him when he was 2, that was insane. I think it was 13 hours in total with a stop over. So Dubai in comparison felt very doable.
Louis was great too, we had only one wobbly moment with him when he was over tired and totally over stimulated by what was going on around him. He eventually nodded off though and it was fine after that. I think though the main thing is to not care too much about those around you. Kids are kids, they’re more than likely going to have some sort of wobbler when they’re in a restricted area like that, and you can only do your best. Try to keep calm, and keep smiling – especially if anyone gives you one of those looks!! 😉
For me the trick with travelling with kids is to keep them entertained. Ollie is at an age now where he’s happy once he has plenty of snacks and his headphones so he can watch a movie. I think he watched the whole of Pete’s Dragon on the way over.
For Louis I kept introducing little toys that he’d never seen before throughout the journey. So a rattle, a soft play book, a play phone – whatever was small & nifty to pack in my bag.
Food wise for Louis I brought the pourable milk bottles & some pouches of mixed veg/fruit for convenience while on the flight and for anytime I couldn’t get something freshly made & suitable for him in a restaurant. Generally speaking I make everything for him when we’re at home, he’s not mad on the pouches but he’d take them if he had to. He’s a hungry monster like his brother and would probably take whatever he’s given to be honest. I think whatever you’re bringing food wise for traveling make sure you know your baby will take whatever it is- don’t decide to introduce something new without testing it out beforehand.
Always bring more nappies /wipes/ changes of clothes for baby while you’re on a plane especially. Don’t be stuck! I don’t know what it is, but it’s like mine just wait until they’re up in the air to have a poo explosion!!
Buggy wise, we brought one for Louis (The City mini jogger, I love this. So handy and easy to fold. I bought in Bella Baby), I always bring the buggy to the plane and it’s taken from there to the hold. We didn’t bring one for Ollie, as he never goes into one at home anymore but we soon regretted that once we got to Dubai, he didn’t want to walk in the evening times when he was tired or when we were in the shopping centre. We ended up buying a really cheap stroller there for him that he barely even fit into, but it did the job and it meant we could go for a walk in the evenings after dinner and both boys were happy being pushed.
We opted to fly at lunchtime. I’ve flown at nighttime before thinking that would be a good idea with a baby and that they’d sleep through it but from my own experience that didn’t really work, as no one sleeps properly and then you’re exhausted too.
We arrived into Dubai at about 11pm, their time. They are 4 hours ahead. We got our luggage & out of the airport fairly quickly. Dubai International Airport is only 30 mins away from Jumeriah Beach Resort, where we stayed. You can get flights to Abu Dhabi also but the travel time into the centre is another hour or so.
When we stayed in Dubai 4 years ago we stayed in the financial district – This was fine as everything is very close to each other and taxis are cheap. We actually stayed in the Atlantis for a couple of nights too on that visit. The Atlantis is incredible. Expensive though, and if we stayed there again as a family I’d like the boys to be older to appreciate all the facilities they have to offer. This time we knew we wanted to be on the beach. There are loads of hotels to choose from on Jumeriah Beach – all ranging in price too, so there’s something to suit all budgets.
We did our research and decided on the Ritz Carlton. It came recommend to us by a friend too so that was great.
I knew it would be incredible and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a big resort without being absolutely huge like a lot of the hotels in Dubai.
It just ticked all the boxes for us. It has a kid’s pool with a slide going into it. Part of the pool is covered by a gazebo and it’s very shallow which was brilliant for us. What I noticed straight away was the lifeguards, they literally had one everywhere. They never took their eyes off the children.
Near the kids pool was a large sand area with slides and see saws. Ollie spent lots of time there.
They also had a large kids playroom available to play in, we went in once to check it out but didn’t stay long as Ollie wanted to go back into the pool again. They had a kids club available too, where children aged 4 up could do activities like painting outdoors, mini golf, shell collecting on the beach. Ollie didn’t do any of these but I think it would be perfect for older kids who didn’t mind going off for an hour with other kids. I’m nearly sure there was no additional cost for this.
There are about 4/5 pools in total throughout the resort. There was a beautiful looking adults only pool, which we didn’t use obviously.. But it was great to see that the resort really catered to everyone. I saw young families, couples on honeymoon and some older couples too – mind you not that many.
The beach was literally on our doorstep and on our first day down exploring it Ollie spotted a camel, I couldn’t believe he insisted on getting up on it. It was huge! Himself and his dada hopped on anyway and off they went down the beach. Ollie is still talking about that.
There were a couple of different dining options in the hotel, any of which we tried were good. The chefs were always extremely accommodating with food for Louis too – they whisked him up some mixed veg whenever we needed it.
I especially liked our location as we could walk outside the hotel to shops, restaurants and cafes near by. There were some very good restaurants near us, in particular an Italian right across the road from us called Scoozi.
At nighttime it was really nice to walk along Jumeriah Beach Resort, there was a great buzz with a lot going on.
– The Marina.
We went to the marina at nighttime. Here you’ll find the Dubai Marina Mall, it’s small in comparison to other malls in Dubai but still has enough. I bought some things in Sephora there and also my favourite new boots from Steve Madden.
We walked through the mall to a building called Pier 7, there’s a different restaurant on each level – they all looked fabulous. We chose one called ‘The Scene’
The views were incredible over looking The Marina. It nearly looked fake. The food was good and it was child-friendly.
– The Atlantis.
There’s so many good restaurants in the Atlantis resort. We didn’t have dinner in any of them this time but previously we ate at Nobu & Sea fire – both fantastic.
-Pierchic at the Madinat hotel.
This has been awarded the most romantic restaurant in Dubai. I was really excited to go when my husband told me he booked it. It’s definitely not appropriate for small children (an Irish friend of mine living in Dubai minded the boys that evening)
It was spectacular. It’s a seafood restaurant situated out on the water, the views were magical. We were over looking the 7-star Burj al-Arab.
Our dinner was superb and the service excellent. It was very expensive though but if you’re celebrating something special or want an amazing treat then go if you can.
– Armani hotel at the Burj Khalifa.
We had a drink in the bar of the Armani hotel, I wanted to see it as I’d heard about it. It was big and minimalistic like I’d imagined.
– Atmosphere Restaurant at Burj Khalifa.
The Burj Khalifa is the highest building in the world. The restaurant is the highest restaurant in the world too and it sits at only 3/4 way up to the top. The views of Dubai were breathtaking.
It seems to be a celebrity favourite too – Will Smith and Eva Longoria were both there on separate occasions days before us.
We got chatting to the chef who was English and he gave us a tour around the kitchen, which was incredible.
I had scallops to start followed by beef and it was probably one of the nicest dining experiences I’ve ever had.
– The Dubai Mall.
As far as I know it’s the second largest mall in the world – the biggest being in China.
You could literally spend a week in this place. It’s outrageous. If anything it’s too big! By the time you get your bearings you’re too tired to shop!! (Nearly!)
I didn’t buy anything there apart from some clothes for the boys, there’s a whole level for children. The selection of everything is unbelievable.
I had a quick look around the shoe level too but with 3 males with me I couldn’t really concentrate!! It wasn’t that type of holiday anyway so I wasn’t too pushed.
While there we visited the Aquarium. It’s really impressive, regardless of age I’d recommend checking it out.
We just wanted a snack while we were there and opted for the Rainforest cafe. It’s a restaurant in a rainforest basically, there’s animals and shrubbery everywhere, the sound effects make it really life like. Ollie absolutely loved it but the food was rubbish. It’s a novelty restaurant and a bit of fun, but that’s it.
-The Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park.
We happened to come across this while googling things to do with families in Dubai.
It was definitely one of the highlights.
The Garden Glow is a big park lit up of stunning garden features and cute animals (open at night time only) it was absolutely stunning – any ages would love a stroll around here.
Right beside it is The Dinosaur Park- Ollie LOVED it here! They had a whole park you walked around full of giant life sized dinosaurs. They moved and made sounds, I thought he might get a fright actually at how lifelike they were but he was fine. I’m not too sure about younger children. Louis I think slept through most of that part so the noises didn’t bother him but I think it might frighten smaller toddlers. If you have kids aged 3/4 up I’d definitely recommend it. I can’t remember now the exact cost in per person- but it wasn’t expensive and kids were free (gave entry to both parks)
– Lego Land
It was amazing, Ollie loved it. The rides were appropriate for 4 years up or once you met the height requirements – we loved it, had a great day there.
– Atlantis Water Park
The water park at the Atlantis hotel is one of the best water parks I’ve ever been to. It’s just unbelievable. Again there’s something for everyone. From kids areas to the steepest water slides in the world for the adults. It’s an experience not to be missed.
The only downside from any time I’ve visited is it’s always busy! Once you know that though and take it for what it is that’s fine. It’s extremely well run though and well managed. There’s lots of different sunbathing areas / restaurants and coffee shops. You’d spend your whole day there. Try to pre book tickets and opt for the quick pass, if you’re going on lots of water slides it’s worth the extra money to cut down on queuing.
– Dolphin Bay at The Atlantis.
If you’ve always dreamt of a dolphin experience here’s the place to do it. You can swim with them & even give them a little kiss.
For Christmas Day we spent it at our hotel. We opted for a big buffet lunch on the lawn.. The food was amazing and entertainment/drinks were included. There was lots to do for the children with Santa, games and a bouncing castle.
**Some other frequently asked questions**
Tanning? I used Vita Liberata the day before I went – I applied the pHenomenal 2 week tanning mousse, I find this best for lasting. The colour is beautiful and I’ve never experienced streaks or patchy while fading. Then while I was away I topped it up with their new Ten Minute tanning lotion. I was very interested to try this for the first time – it’s new to market and it’s set to shake things up in the tanning world I reckon. It’s a tinted lotion you apply all over and after only 10 minutes you can lightly shower it off. It then develops over the next few hours. The results were lovely. It was light and natural so I applied every couple of days to keep my skin bronzed looking. It’s a fabulous product and I think people who don’t like a full on dark tan will love this. I found no transferring of colour onto my clothes, I think this will be very popular with brides too who dread any tan marks showing up onto their dress.
Can you wear what you like in Dubai? Should you cover up? In my experience each time I’ve been there it’s been no different to anywhere else. You can wear what you like. I’ve never encountered being told to cover my shoulders or legs. It’s possibly different depending on where you are obviously, but if you’re conscious or unsure just bring a little wrap or jacket to put over your shoulders.
Boys clothes? They were mainly from Next online as that was the only place I could find summer clothes in the winter.
Jet lag? I think when it comes to kids don’t be put off by time differences and possible jet lag. Personally speaking, my boys have always adapted well – kiddies are resilient. Yes it takes a few days to get into the swing of things when you get to your destination but don’t be put off. It’s probably harder when you arrive home but after 4/5 days you’ll be back into your routine.
Negatives? None other than I found it quite expensive over all. It’s jumped massively in the 4 years since we’d been there.
I’d highly recommend it though for a holiday or honeymoon of a lifetime.
That’s it! I really hope you enjoyed our holiday post and I hope I answered everything too.
If not, let me know.
*Please note all opinions are my own (as always). No part of our trip was paid for or sponsored in anyway.