Where to stay, rest, play & dine in the world’s busiest passenger airport
Are you looking at a layover in Dubai International Airport (DXB) and trying to weigh up your options? The good news is there’s a lot to see and do within the airport itself, there are definitely worse airports in the world you could be stuck in than Dubai International Aiport!
If you are looking at a layover of longer than 6 to 8 hours though, there are a few other options we recommend you look at:
- Passengers travelling with Emirates or on a Qantas codeshare may be eligible to use the Dubai Connect complimentary layover service. We have a detailed guide here to Dubai Connect, click over to see if you are eligible and what you can get!
- Use your layover time to explore the city of Dubai – we talk you through all of your Dubai Stopover options in this post here.
In this guide, we talk you through specifically staying airside at DXB during a layover.
NB – always allow AT LEAST 2 hours before changing flights in Dubai. The airport is huge and if your flights take off from different parts of the terminal you will need every minute to clear through transit and get to your next flight, as well as enough time for baggage to move and accounting for any small delays you may encounter.
Staying at Dubai Airport
Our suggestions is anything under 5 hours, you are best staying at the airport to prevent the hassles of checking in and out through immigration and risk missing your flight.
International flights require checking in a minimum 2 hours beforehand, we’d strongly suggest even longer during peak travel periods (more so for congestion getting into the airport than how quickly you are processed through the check-in counters).
Airport Lounges at Dubai International Airport
This can be a great option for short to medium-length layovers (1 to 4 hours). There are several options, some you may be able to get for “free” via loyalty programs, others you’d need to pay for.
If you are flying Business class, you will of course automatically be given access to a lounge through your airlines own dedicated team, or there is the Dubai International Business Class lounge in Terminal 1, Concourse C for all other airlines.
If you don’t have a business class seat but do have a loyalty card such as Lounge Pass or Priority Pass, you can access several full services lounges including the Marhaba Lounges at all 3 terminals and Ahlan Business Lounges. Non-cardholders can also pay cash on arrival if there is space or prebook to guarantee a spot. Check for any lounge entitlements with your credit cards too.
Sleeping at Dubai International Airport
Staying airside, there are currently only two sleeping options on offer (it appears the SnoozeCubs that used to operate in Terminal 1 are no longer operating).
Dubai International Terminal Hotel
Dubai International Terminal Hotel is the only hotel actually in the airport, Terminal 3. Including full hotel facilities with restaurants, gym, spa, swimming pool this is your best luxury option without needing to actually leave the airport. They do not offer family rooms but you can add up to one extra bed / cot with charge. Room rates start from 650AED.
sleep ‘n fly Sleep Lounge
The other alternative is Sleep ‘n Fly at Gate A1, Terminal 3 who offer hourly rate YAWN Cabins & Igloo Pods, some minimum hour restrictions apply overnight to single and double cabins (usual in 4, 6, 8 & 10-hour blocks). Do note, these do not come with changing and washing facilities. Maximum height to add a child 115cm. Check carefully what you are booking as they are available for A. B & C concourse.
(Did you know Priority Pass cardholders can use this option instead of a lounge?!)
Washing & Care Facilities at Dubai International Airport
Complimentary shower facilities located in Terminal 3 between gates B13 and B19.
Be Relax customers can also make use of shower facilities at the spa near Gate A1, Terminal 3 (paid).
Families will find Baby Care rooms throughout all terminals of the airport.
Interesting Things to do in Dubai Airport
- Zen Gardens – the airport’s little slice of indoor nature is not a bad place to chill out for a while. Located in Terminal 3 between gates B7 and B27. It also includes a children’s area with play equipment, TV’s, interactive games zone and baby change facilities.
- Family Zone – found in Terminal 3 Concourse B between gates B26 and B32 this is a free playground area with comfortable seating for parents.
- Bounce – Trampolining during your layover? Why not! The internationally renowned free jump revolution can now be hired by 30 minute or hour blocks. This is the perfect way to exhaust your little ones bewteen flights (ideally 3 years+ toilet trained). 50AED for 30 minutes of 80AED for one hour. Located in Terminal 3 near gate B27
- Surf the net – Well, what else do we all actually do these days? Ultra-fast, free internet WOW-fi is only free for the first 60 minutes. If you need longer than this you’ll need to move to the paid service offered by Boingo
- Shopping and eating – not always ideal with little ones in tow but there are literally dozens of choices from fine dining to family favourites like Giraffe or simple fast food and cafe takeouts.
Transiting around Dubai International Airport
We will reiterate again the airport is huge! If you’re looking to simply stretch your legs between flight you won’t be disappointed.
Those who struggle with walking though may need assisted transfer services. These should be booked in advance with your airline.
Young families will also be pleased to know there are complimentary strollers available at Dubai Airport. They’re not always available in every rack, but you should eventually find one!
We hope this helps prepare you for what to expect at Dubai International Airport. Remember to check your eligibility for Dubai Connect or check out some of the transit tour options suggested here, especially if you’re visiting in the cooler winter months.
You may even decide to stay a little longer next time! You can start your journey to exploring Dubai here.
Please note we are not a travel agency, nor an agent for Emirates. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE 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