Dubai Marina

More Desert, then Disneyland for Grown-ups (Dubai)

The Anantara is quite something. I felt like an extra from an Indiana Jones movie, arriving at what feels like a third century fort in the middle of nowhere. Except for the fact that there isn’t much need for a fort in the middle of nowhere, and it was built in about 2005. As ever, the service and the staff are fantastic. Glass of champagne on arrival. Check. Upgraded to a suite with a view over the dunes. Check. Traditional desert lunch of hamburger, fries, and a beer by the pool. Check! This place will be epic for a couple of days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

We could have stayed there for a week, dining in the dunes every evening and spending days lounging by the pool, but this is a work trip to plan a road trip, not a holiday. I promise. So we waved goodbye to the desert and headed back through the desert, east for Dubai. I won’t kid anyone, on tarmac a drive through any desert is hardly like a blast up the Stelvio pass. It is basically one very long straight road with, ahem, a fairly loose adherence to speed limits.

You know you’ve hit Dubai when the skyscrapers begin to block-out the sun, the highways are 8 lanes wide (each side), and the Porsches and Lamborghinis outnumber the Land Cruisers. We stayed at the Westin at the Marina, which is a great spot because it’s next to the biggest expat bar in the country…Barasti’s! Anyone who’s had a night out in Monaco will know the Rascasse, and anyone who’s had a night out in Clapham will know Inferno’s, and the formula is the same here. Boozed-up brits being vulgar in the sun. I’d usually plump for somewhere a little more high-brow, but it was happy hour and they were showing the Arsenal Liverpool match. Stay classy Dubai!