ANANTARA DUBAI THE PALM RESORT & SPA
What took them so long? When Anantara's newest property opened at the end of last year, it unveiled Dubai's first overwater bungalows, the ideal accommodation for a place that is hot pretty much all year round.
If you can't afford the serious price tag, don't despair: there are also indulgent beachfront villas, or lagoon-access rooms, where you can step from your verandah straight into the man-made lagoon. Make time to check out the spa and the Thai restaurant, or enjoy dinner for two on the beach.
Rooms from AED1300 ($428).
JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY
From the gold columns in the lobby to the 10 restaurants and 10 tennis courts, it's clear that restraint is not one of the governing principles of this hotel. What we really love about the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, however, is its elegant aesthetic, inspired by the palaces of the Ottoman sultans.
From the stark black and white beauty of Voi, the colonial Vietnamese restaurant, to the hip Voda Bar with its 1960s cave chairs, it's like wandering through a series of stage sets. Also worth a visit: the palatial spa, which has 42 rooms and three Turkish hammams.
Rooms from AED1600 ($527).
ATLANTIS THE PALM
At some hotels, a private cabana on the beach is a highlight. At Atlantis The Palm, it's the warm-up act. The hotel's other facilities include the Aquaventure water park, where you can shoot down a water slide through a shark-filled lagoon, and Dolphin Bay, where you can stroke and dance with the playful mammals.
You can even enjoy marine magic without getting out of bed if you check into one of the hotel's two underwater suites. These extravagant three-storey lodgings look out onto the hotel's Ambassador Lagoon, home to 65,000 marine animals. When you have sharks, rays and fish floating past your floor-to-ceiling windows, who needs television?
Rooms from AED2000 ($659).
When it opened in 1999, its striking sail shape and dedication to absolute indulgence made the Burj al-Arab famous around the world. What's really impressive, however, is that more than a decade on, it's still delivering. Sure, it helps when all your rooms are two-storey suites with stupendous views across the Gulf, and you have a fleet of Rolls-Royces ready to ferry guests from one shopping appointment to another.
For our money, however, what really sets the hotel apart is its superb service. That, and the toiletries: each suite is equipped with a complete range of full-size Hermes products. Now that's luxury.
Rooms from AED5000 ($1647).
ARMANI HOTEL DUBAI
The Armani Hotel may be in the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, but no need to worry about vertigo - most of the rooms are in the tower's lowest levels. So if you were picturing a room with the ultimate panorama, you may need to think again.
However, that's the only way in which the Armani hotel disappoints. In the midst of Dubai's opulence and over-the-top approach, Armani is an oasis of smooth service, neutral tones and restrained but indulgent interiors - think marble and leather, stone and tatami, all in shades of brown, caramel and taupe.
Rooms from AED4200 ($1383).
KEMPINSKI HOTEL MALL OF THE EMIRATES
If you want a hotel room that captures Dubai's Alice in Wonderland vibe, check into one of Kempinski's 15 ski chalets. Yep, you read right. We're not talking pine cladding and cuckoo clocks - the interiors are as sleek as you'd expect from a luxury brand like Kempinski.
What you do get is a view over Dubai's only indoor ski slopes. Skiers aren't the only ones who'll love this hotel's location: shoppers can walk straight from the hotel lobby into the Mall of the Emirates, and lose a day or two exploring the 500 or so shops.
Rooms from AED2399 ($790).
The writer travelled courtesy of Qantas Airways and Dubai Tourism.
- Sydney Morning Herald