Picking the best areas of Dubai to stay for every type of traveller and every budget
The city of Dubai has been transformed only over a matter of decades from a small fishing village and trading port to one of the mega-cities of the Middle East.
Renowned for its glitzy and glamourous exterior and Arabian allure – not to mention year-round sunshine – Dubai is far more than just a stopover city these days. From families to couples, business travellers to backpackers, and everything in between, modern Dubai has so much to offer.
But where will you find the best places to stay in Dubai? With over 800 hotels and around 150,000 rooms on offer (as at end of 2023) – let alone rental properties and apartments- it’s tough to know where to start your Dubai accommodation search. Your decision will likely depend on:
- Your reason for visiting Dubai
- How many are in your travelling party
- Budget to spend on accommodation
We are firstly going to take you through the layout of the city so you can understand how the different areas of Dubai relate to one another, then we will jump into the detail of top Dubai hotels to suit:
Please note this page contains affiliate links. Should you book any of the hotels, apartments or hostels after clicking on our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Best Areas to Stay in Dubai – Dubai City Layout
Dubai is a long, spread-out city largely based along a 40-kilometre or so stretch of the Arabian Gulf coast. In recent years, development has very much encroached inland on the desert, and there are more “up and coming areas” than there are food trucks (though that can be a close tie in Dubai).
There is no city centre of Dubai per se, so you should base where you stay around the type of Dubai trip you are after. Unlike many other cities, a lot of Dubai is not walkable, which makes choosing the best area in Dubai even more essential.
The location you choose as a Dubai visitor can be key to your Dubai experience. While the public transportation network in Dubai is reasonably comprehensive, it largely operates around the strip of Sheikh Zayed Road, which runs through the heart of the city parallel to the coast. You don’t want to spend half your time traipsing across the city, so plan wisely.
We would recommend for tourists on longer stays to get themselves well placed for transport and with relaxation facilities. If you are on shorter stays, place yourself nearer to the airport. There is certainly no “one size fits all” experience for Dubai – and yes budget plays a big part
Top Tourist Areas of Dubai
Let’s look at each of these areas in much more detail and top accommodation choices for each budget.
Places to stay in Dubai – Downtown Dubai & Business Bay
Think the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mal, nd all the buildings that sit around these top attractions. You’ll be surrounded by sweeping skyscrapers, the Dubai Opera and all the amenities the Dubai Mall has to offer, from its epic Aquarium to the Olympic-sized ice skating rink, cinemas, KidZania, VR Park, and even the Burj Park nestled in between. Not to mention the nightly light & sound Dubai fountain show that’s wowed visiting crowds for years.
You are also in good proximity to the airport and the older historic parts of Dubai. The downtown area of Dubai would be our top pick for shorter stays on a reasonable budget who will mostly be out and about exploring and don’t want to spend all their time at the beach.
Pros of staying in Downtown – Incredibly central and convenient to main attractions and the city’s best restaurants, top city bars; easily walkable promenades and Metro connection, all the way through to Dubai International Airport (DXB).
Cons of staying in Downtown – It can seriously dent your budget! Convenience does not come cheap in top tourist areas. You also miss some of the benefits of sunset on the Arabian Gulf coast and the more lively buzz of Dubai Marina & JBR (more below!).
Our top accommodation picks for Downtown Dubai:
Places to stay in Dubai – Dubai Marina
A man-made marina area sitting to the west of the city, this is another hub of tourist activity. The incredibly picturesque marina surrounded by high-rise towers is home to several of Dubai’s top dining & nightlife options.
Dubai Marina is the departure point for many cruises as well as the Dubai Water Taxi & Dubai Water Bus which can take you to Downtown.
The Dubai Tram also runs from Dubai Marina to Dubai Media City and on the south side of the Marina, you can connect with the Red Metro.
Pros of staying in Dubai Marina – It really has everything holidaymakers need at hand and great transport connections, close to Dubai Parks & Resorts and Abu Dhabi border, minutes to JBR The Walk & The Beach. Enjoy the beauty of overlooking the marina action and a fabulous nightlife vibe.
The other huge advantage of staying in Dubai Marina is nearly all rooms are hotel apartments meaning you have extra kitchen and washing amenities – great for longer stays. There’s also a good range of alternate AirBnB options in Dubai Marina which we look at here (you won’t believe some of the spectacular high-rise options!)
Cons of staying in Dubai Marina – You are quite far from DXB airport and the attractions of Downtown; Depending on what side of the marina, you may still have some considerable walking to do. Cheaper options than Downtown but still costly for tourists on a tight budget.
Our top accommodation picks for Dubai Marina
Places to Stay in Dubai – Jumeirah Beach and JBR
It’s important to note these really are two separate things. “Jumeirah” is often loosely used to refer to pretty much any area along the beachfront of Dubai from Bur Dubai to the northeast all the way down to Dubai Marina.
JBR is short for “Jumeirah Beach Residence,” which sits wedged between the beachfront (aptly named “The Beach”) and the adjacent promenade area “The Walk” to the north and Dubai Marina to the South. Here, you will find some of Dubai’s best beachside accommodations and hotel apartments perfect for families. Not all may have their own private beach, but you may get beach club access and, almost certainly, some sea views.
As the name might strongly suggest, this is a great area to stay if you are seeking out some sun, beach, water sports and pool time during your time in Dubai whilst still wanting to be well-connected to the rest of the city. It’s arguably the top spot for tourists as the area is walkable and has so much to offer.
Other areas of Jumeirah Beach to look out for as there are plentiful amenities nearby are the Jumeirah chain hotels attached to Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Hotel (attached to Wild Wadi), the ultra-luxurious Burj Al Arab and up and coming La Mer beachfront area to the north, including Pearl Jumeirah & Nikki Beach.
There’s also Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, One&Only Royal Mirage & Four Seasons to name but a few of the luxurious hotels in Jumeirah with their own private beach frontages to consider along Jumeirah Beach. You may find private villa accommodation on AirBnB in this area too.
NB: There isn’t really “budget” when it comes to staying right on the beach. You can certainly get much cheaper hotels along JBR and immediately inland within Dubai Marina if you are happy to compromise on star-rating and facilities. Along the beach, you can bank on a minimum of $100 USD per night starting price – but there are a few hidden highrise shared dorm hostels to consider.
Pros of staying in JBR / Jumeirah Beach – Access to the beach, of course! The unmissable soft white stands and superb sundowner locations all along the coast. JBR has the added
Cons of staying in JBR / Jumeirah Beach – The resorts further along the coast from JBR are not really walkable to anything. Some will offer complimentary shuttle services to attractions such as Mall of the Emirates, but you’re otherwise a little “trapped in”. You’re also some distance from the airport.
Our top accommodation picks for JBR / Jumeirah Beach
- Budget – Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham
- Hostel – DXB Backpackers
- Mid-range – Westin Mina Seyahi
- Luxury – The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
- Family / Hotel Apartment – Hilton Dubai The Walk
We also recommend you check out our guide to the Best Dubai Beach Resorts With Private Beach which captures many of the Jumeirah Beach properties.
Places to Stay in Dubai – The Palm Jumeirah
Now let’s clarify any name confusion again; the Palm Jumeirah very specifically refers to the manmade peninsular that juts into the Persian Gulf from Jumeirah. It is bathed in luxury housing and apartments and a plethora of luxury resorts. You really need to take a helicopter ride or skydive to take in just how vast this offshore development is!
This is your ideal serene resort break where you may not even want to leave your hotel! All the resorts are frankly incredible, world-class quality, it’ll simply come down to your individual budget as it’s nearly all 5-star hotels, though some budget and mid-range options are opening up along Palm West Beach.
As per Jumeirah Beach, you won’t really get “budget” but we’ve picked out the best value luxury choices.
Pros of staying on Palm Jumeirah – A stunning taste of Dubai luxury, ample outdoor activities and amazing sunsets over the Arabian Gulf to be enjoyed.
Cons of staying on Palm Jumeirah – The price tag will put most average travellers off staying on the Palm. You’re also quite far from the airport – and almost everything else in Dubai! There’s only one road on and off the Palm, so expect lots of taxis/transfers and long commutes if you want to sightsee or get back to DXB Airport.
Best Places to stay on Palm Jumeirah
Places to stay in Dubai – Bur Dubai
Often referred to as “Old Dubai” or historical Dubai, this is where you will find the city’s oldest buildings, including the Dubai Museum, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and the more modern additions of Al Seef and Al Jaddaf, as well as the large parklands that surround Dubai Creek.
While some would argue you get a much more authentic Dubai experience here, others will complain that the hotels are a bit more run down – “old” in Dubai terms can simply mean the hotel has been there since the 1990s! It is still one of the best areas to stay in Dubai.
There is a real mixed bag of accommodation in Bur Dubai these days as newer developments are bringing new brand-name hotels to the area, but in traditional Arabic styling to blend into the redeveloped areas of the city. You will find bargain basement digs, too, for those on an absolute shoestring budget.
(NB the area we’re describing,”Bur Dubai” means Mainland Dubai – we have encapsulated Al Karama, Oud Metha, Al Seef, Al Jaddaf through to Zabeel and the start of Sheikh Zayed Road highrises)
Pros of staying in Bur Dubai – Undoubtedly, it’s the corner of the city where 5-star luxury comes without the humongous price tag, and you can enjoy some great rooftop views back to Bur Dubai.
It’s an excellent choice for apartment-style accommodation and positioning yourself well; you can be less than 10 minutes to the Metro, which takes you to Downtown Dubai in minutes. For convenience, you are also only 10 to 15 minutes away from the airport. There’s a lot to love about “Old Dubai”!
Cons of staying in Bur Dubai– accommodation can be dated, so choose wisely. Newer hotels are great but can push up the cost of those around them, so maybe not always the bargain, are expect.
Best accommodation options in Bur Dubai
Places to stay in Dubai – Deira
Just across the creek from Bur Dubai on the eastern bank you will find another of Dubai’s older neighbourhoods and home to the city’s famous gold and spice souks.
Providing good transport links, you are close to Downtown still with the Red Metro connection, really near to the airport – making it a favourite location with long layover passengers for DXB and you are only moments away from neighbouring Emirate Sharjah.
Not everything in Deira is old and cheap – there are many luxury hotels and even a golf course to be found along Dubai Creek with unrivalled views of the city and incredible boardwalk restaurants along the waterfront to enjoy. However, like Bur Dubai, these luxury hotels are often at a fraction of the cost for what you get compared to Downtown.
Pros of staying in Deira – You are close the city and cheaper than many other locations; Deira is also a favourite area for foodies and cheap eats as well as bargain hunters.
Cons of staying in Deira – Many hotel choices are dated. It can be a noisier area of the city at night with traffic congestion.
Best accommodation options in Deira
Places to Stay in Dubai – Al Quoz & Al Barsha
Set back from the beachfront you will find Al Barsha – best described as the area surrounding the Mall of the Emirates, Al Quoz is one of the city’s up and coming areas best known as the city’s art and cultural district.
In between the often-industrial feel from the outside, there are hidden gems designer cafes and fitness studios mixed in with skate parks. Enjoy the Alserkal Avenue Arts District, Brekkie at Tom & Serg; It’s definitely an area to keep your eye on for experiencing a newer side of Dubai.
Al Barsha is the area of the city you’ll find the Mall of the Emirates, famed for its indoor ski slope but also home to a huge number of fashion outlets making it a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find some hotels are attached to the Mall whilst others sit a block or so away
Pros of staying in Al Qouz/Al Barsha – Good value for money and good-sized rooms close to transport connections (many next to Mashreq Metro).
Cons of staying in Al Quoz/Al Barsha – It’s a little bit no-man’s land. Most of the budget accommodation is not easy walking distance to Metro or nearby attractions. Some areas are quite new and still lack the character of the older areas of Dubai nearer to the Creek
Best accommodation options in Al Quoz/Al Barsha
Places to Stay in Dubai – the Desert & Beyond
Beyond the city of Dubai, when the skyscrapers end, and the endless housing estates slowly peter out, there’s an awful lot of sand! There are a few small townships beyond the city and into the mountains (yes, the United Arab Emirates has mountains!), such as Hatta, but no other big towns within the Dubai Emirate.
Remember, there is a whole lot more UAE to explore – don’t limit yourself to just Dubai Emirate. You can find our complete guide to what can be found beyond in the 7 Emirates of the UAE here.
Exploring the desert is no doubt on your to-do list for Dubai, too, but did you know you can actually stay in the desert overnight?
Two top choices to consider for desert-style luxury:
So now we’ve got you geographically sorted in Dubai, let’s start to look at particular traveller types and which areas and accommodation choices might suit you best.
Best Areas to Stay in Dubai for Business Travellers
If you are here for a conference or going to the World Trade Centre, there are many hotels that line the first section of Sheikh Zayed Road, near the World Trade Centre roundabout (only around 10 – 15 minutes to DXB Airport).
Be mindful that while things may look close on the map, there’s a rather large road to cross if you stay on the northern side, and one-way systems make navigating even this small area of the city in a taxi challenging.
The most convenient options sit on the south side of SZR and have immediate Metro access to Dubai International Airport and the famous landmarks of Downtown.
Within the heart of DIFC – the financial district – you will find plenty of large brand-name hotels and some very modern and breath-taking accommodation choices with spacious rooms. There are also plentiful apartments and Airbnb-style options if you’re staying longer on a business trip.
Some of the best hotels for business travellers to Dubai include:
- Budget – Ibis One Central – 2-star business accommodation done right. Honestly, if you just need a place for your head and the convenience of WTC and into the city by Metro, this is a superb value option in the centre of the action, clean, easy, and convenient.
- Mid-range – Gevora Hotel – nothing quite like bragging rights you stayed in the world’s tallest hotel, overlooking the world’s tallest building, right? A great value 4-star option in between WTC and Downtown.
- Luxury – The Ritz-Carlton DIFC in the heart of the financial district, just one stop from the Dubai Mall and plentiful dining and relaxation amenities on site.
Best Areas to Stay in Dubai for Short Stopovers
Just because you are only on a short stopover (we are talking less than 48 hours), don’t feel you need to be restricted just to the areas closest to the airport.
On all but the worst traffic days (i.e. public holidays when everyone is trying to get to the airport – you can see when they fall here), you should be fine to base yourself anywhere in the city and rely on the Metro or taxies to get around.
We would lean towards staying in Bur Dubai/Downtown area for a short stopover rather than the beach – simply for the convenience of fitting in more sightseeing and getting a good mix of old and new Dubai; save Dubai Marina/JBR area for a longer vacation.
Some options we recommend you try to mix a little relaxation and leg stretching between flights:
- Budget – Premier Inn Dubai Al Jaddaf – convenience in an up-and-coming modern area of the city at a great price per night, close to Al Jadaf Metro
- Hostel –
- Mid-range – Grand Hyatt – a surprisingly affordable luxury resort option next to Dubai Creek Park
- Luxury – Jumeirah Creekside – totally spoil yourself and unwind between flights
- Family / Hotel Apartment – Burjuman Arjaan by Rotana – best of old and new Dubai, walk to Al Seef Waterfront and Burjuman Mall, or easy Metro ride to Downtown, 10 minutes to DXB with apartment conveniences.
If you do want ultra-close to the airport through you can’t sniff at Le Meridien – far more than just a conference centre hotel they have a great range of dining choices and recreation facilities, making it a perfect place to stretch out and relax between long flights or base yourself before an early start, you are only 3 minutes drive back to terminal 3.
Best Areas to Stay in Dubai for Family Vacations
If you are here for a longer stay vacation with a family or larger group, we recommend Dubai Marian or JBR as your top pick – or Palm Jumeirah if the budget will permit for a resort holiday:
Some top choice Dubai hotel apartments through to family resorts to consider:
- Doubletree by Hilton Jumeirah Beach – Good-sized and reasonably priced luxury hotel apartments on the beachfront, halfway between Bluewaters Island & The Walk JBR
- The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina – fabulous access to a range of restaurants outdoor pools and recreation facilities on Jumeirah beach – same facilities as Le Meridien at a lower price point for families
- Jumeirah al Naseem Madinat Jumeirah – a beautiful luxury stay attached to the modern Souk Madinat Jumeirah & with complimentary access to Wild Wadi
- The Ritz-Carlton Dubai – unsurpassable beachfront family luxury with easy access by foot to the conveniences of JBR & The Walk
Want to be closer to the sightseeing of Downtown and don’t care too much for the beach? Some other Dubai Downtown and city-side options for families to consider include:
- Roda Al Murooj Residence – resort-style accommodation immediately adjacent to Dubai Mall but with a family-sized apartment
- Rove Downtown -akin to a very fun and funky upscale backpackers style accommodation adjacent to Dubai Mall
- Grand Hyatt Dubai – another resort-style option with slides, close to the airport at a considerably cheaper price than beachfront resorts
Best Areas to Stay in Dubai for Theme Park Vacations
There are several choices when it comes to theme parks, with the advantage being if you stay at an onsite hotel, your hotel price can be packaged with attraction tickets. Our “top 3”in this category are:
- Atlantis The Palm – combine with Aquaventure, the Lost Chambers and Dolphinarium
- Jumeirah Beach Hotel – combine with Wild Wadi (any of the Jumeirah chain hotels will afford you the same benefit, JBH is the closest)
- Lapita Dubai Parks & Resorts – luxury Polynesian resort for inclusive tickets to Legoland Dubai, Legoland Water Park, Motiongate or Bollywood.
You may also want to check out this guide to which hotel resorts offer that little extra “wow factor” from slides to mini waterparks in your hotel + our guide to Dubai‘s best waterparks.
Where to Stay in Dubai on a Budget
Budget and Dubai don’t often sit comfortably hand in hand – and many travellers have different interpretations of what budget means! We’ll put it this way – Dubai, on the whole, is not a great value budget backpacker city.
Yes, you can find much cheaper options, and even hostels, which may come as a surprise to many, albeit this is still a developing area of the tourism market and quality is hugely variable.
The key, as most budget travellers know, is to seek out what’s important to you and do your research thoroughly. Will you take the convenience of location over the size of your room and facilities? Or would you rather have a little extra personal space and stay further out of town, saving your budget for meals and attractions?
Just be careful in Dubai you don’t stay too far out and all your budget then goes on transport. A slightly more expensive but central choice may be your answer.
Where to seek our good value accommodation in Dubai
A surprisingly good value chain to keep your eye out for is Rove Hotels in some great locations including near the airport, Downtown – minutes from the Dubai mall, Dubai Marina, and newly opened Dubai Parks & Resorts.
Also, look into some of the newer areas, Al Jaddaf is part of Bur Dubai and up-and-coming area where you will find brand new hotels at very reasonable prices near the Green Metro.
On the opposite side of the city as you drive towards Abu Dhabi and after the Dubai Marina area is Ibn Battuta. You can find some better value properties here than in Dubai Marina – albeit the atmosphere is not the same but a short Metro ride home after a night out. This part of town would also be a good budget choice during Expo 2020.
When it comes to what you actually get in Dubai for “Budget” you may be really pleasantly surprised to find most will include breakfast, Wi-Fi and even access to pools and fitness centres in their price. It depends on how many you want to share your room with!
Hostels in Dubai
- Bombay Backpackers DXB – enjoy the spectacular highlights of staying in JBR & The Walk in a wonderful central location offering great amenities. Superior & Deluxe dorms sleep between 6 to 12 in Male, female and mixed guests from 60 AED per night. Linen included, and access to an outdoor pool, laundry, shared common room with games and cooking facilities.
- DXB Backpackers – High-rise hostel accommodation close to the beach in JBR, offering private doubles and mixed dorm rooms. Your linen is included, as well as pool & fitness centre access, Dorms from 70 AED, and Privates from 120 AED.
- Torch 77 – in the acclaimed Torch Tower. This is one of the highest hostels you’ll find in the world! Other than the incredible views, the hostel is clean and offers male, female and mixed dorms for an average nightly rate of AED 197
- BackPacker Dubai – In the Barsha Heights area of Dubai, you are close to Dubai Internet City. There are male/female/mixed dorms from 70 AED per night.
- Friends House Hostel – it’s all location location if you want to be close to the Downtown action you are just a bridge walk over to Dubai Mall Metro. There are male/female and mixed dorms starting from 36 AED per night
Most hostels in Dubai operate with single-sex rooms, making them a less attractive choice for those of you travelling as a couple or family. You may well find a cheaper hotel room in Bur Dubai or Deira at the equivalent price or not much more than a private room for two people in a hostel.
You can check out our complete guide to exploring Dubai on a budget here – you may also enjoy our guide to 30+ Things to do in Dubai FREE! and really cheap this year.
Getting Around in Dubai – Why it’s So Important For Where to Stay in Dubai
So we mentioned at the outset not many areas of the city are easily walkable. It’s simply not the way the city grew from the Creekside and west. With vast swathes of land, development has occurred across the city in large and distinct blocks with huge areas in between.
Newer developments in the last couple of decades see a much better set up with tourists and pedestrian access front of mind – primarily we’re talking about Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina/JBR – hence why these are popular areas to stay.
Anywhere else in the city, due largely to the heat – not to mention the lack of footpaths or a foreseeable way to cross huge 8-lane roads – you are best catching a public taxi or Uber to get around, even for short hops. This can add time and money to your trip to Dubai.
Staying anywhere with a Metro station in walking distance most definitely helps, but even a Metro crossing point over the highway can take several minutes to navigate! The city really is big, which is why we can’t emphasise enough choosing a location for its convenience above all else. The rest of your itinerary will fall into place around this.
As well as the Metro, there is a comprehensive bus network that covers the city and a growing network of water buses.
Other Factors to Be Aware of When Booking Dubai Accommodation
- Beware of extra charges and taxes. Whilst VAT of 5% is supposed to be inclusive, many will quote it separately, as well as municipality tax, tourism fee and service charges. You can see our complete guide to Dubai Tourism Taxes here.
- Some hotels in Dubai are dry – i.e. there’s no mini bar or onsite alcohol service in the bars/restaurants. If this is important to you, please check this before booking.
- Prices can vary hugely by season and events. Don’t forget to check out our best time to visit Dubai guide to see what might be happening during your visit and why prices might be fluctuating. Generally speaking, prices dip over the hottest summer months when hotels are trying to increase occupancy and are very expensive in December over Christmas to New Year particularly.
- Use multiple booking search tools to nab your best price. We do love the convenience of Booking.com – especially their flexible cancellation policy – so we have largely linked to their site here as a starting point for your search. We also recommend you use package holiday tools such as Expedia, which may have a slightly different inventory.
Looking to Stay Somewhere With Wow Factor in Dubai?
Don’t miss these additional Dubai accommodation guides if you’re seeking out something special:
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.Dubai Travel Planner