Dubai can be a polarizing place: People tend to either love the lavish lifestyle, human-made islands and larger-than-life skyscrapers or look around and wonder what’s the points of it all.
This year, it looks like more and more people are leaning into the metropolis, as Tripadvisor just named it the Most Popular Destination in the World in the travel review company’s 2022 Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Dubai beat out a handful of the usual contenders, including London, Paris and Rome, to claim its place on the throne. The full list of the world’s most popular destinations, based on the quality and quantity of reviews on Tripadvisor between Nov. 1, 2020, and Oct. 31, 2020, includes:
- Cancun, Mexico
- Bali, Indonesia
- Crete, Greece
- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- Hurghada, Egypt
Dubai is an adult playground of sorts, as it’s home to an unfathomable amount of experiences, restaurants, hotels and attractions. The city, which was once a sleepy fishing village in the desert, has grown rapidly over the past few decades, attracting people from all over the world. It truly is a multicultural place, with around 90% of the population having moved there from another country.
A truly cosmopolitan city, Dubai offers a variety of ways to pass the time, regardless of your interests. You can see for miles from the top of the world’s tallest skyscraper, learn how to ski at an indoor ski facility in the middle of the desert, shop for gold and spices in historic souks or have dinner strapped into a chair at a table suspended more than 150 feet above the ground.
It also helps that Dubai is currently hosting Expo 2020 Dubai, an event where 192 countries from around the globe set up pavilions to highlight the very best of their nations, through the end of March. Plus, Dubai is where Emirates, one of the world’s most desirable airlines, is based, making it easy to catch a direct flight to Dubai from a handful of U.S. cities.
The options are limitless, and, in my experience, it’s a place you truly have to see to believe.
Points hotels in Dubai
There’s no shortage of points hotels in Dubai for you to consider. From luxury hotels occupying space in skyscrapers to a dessert retreat fit for royalty (that’s you, my friend), here are just some of the many Dubai hotels you can book with points. And if you need help figuring out how to actually get to Dubai using points and miles, check out our handy guide for some expert advice.
Andaz Dubai The Palm
The Palm is a series of human-made islands that jut out into the Arabian sea. It is absolutely loaded with hotels from nearly every brand you can think of, including plenty of options that are bookable with points. One that’s particularly great for World of Hyatt loyalists is Andaz Dubai The Palm, which is located closer to “the trunk” of the islands, meaning it won’t take you too long to get back into Dubai proper. At this Andaz outpost, guests can enjoy colorful, playful rooms and suites; an adults-only cabana pool with views of the world’s tallest building; a handful of restaurants, bars and a club; and a spa that’s perfect for refreshing after spending time in the UAE heat.
How to book: At this Category 5 World of Hyatt hotel, rooms can be booked between 17,000 and 23,000 points, depending on whether your stay is during a peak or off-peak period of time. With the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can score three free standard redemption nights here by earning 30,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening an account, plus up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 points per dollar spent on up to $15,000 in purchases in the first six months of opening the account.
W Dubai – The Palm
A very solid Marriott Bonvoy option also on The Palm, the W Dubai “sets the gold standard for every other hotel in the W brand,” according to our 2019 review of the resort. That’s a pretty big statement, but it’s one I can get behind because my own stay there was fabulous. Guest rooms are big, with tile walls that feel like colorful mosaics. The various pools have plenty of room to spread out, including in orb-looking structures that seem like they’re floating on the water. Not to mention, the resort’s Italian restaurant, Torno Subito, is absolutely delicious.
How to book: Rates at this Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy property cost anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 points per night, though these points totals may change when Marriott shifts to dynamic pricing in March.
Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
Sure, Al Maha is another Marriott Bonvoy property available in Dubai, but it’s vastly different from others in the brand’s portfolio. Here, you can learn about Dubai’s desert conservation efforts, take a thrilling ride across sand dunes in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, ride a camel at sunset, unwind in a gorgeous spa or beat the heat in your private swimming pool, a standard amenity for every room. Situated just 45 minutes outside of Dubai proper, this luxury escape is the place to go to get a taste of the other side of the most popular destination in the world.
How to book: Award nights at this Marriott Bonvoy Category 8 hotel will cost you between 70,000 and 100,000 points per night.
Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre
If you want to be close to the action and pledge your allegiance to Hilton Honors, book a stay at the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai’s financial district. The hotel itself is a stunner, with dark, heavy wooden accents combined with pops of royal blue and gold. It occupies the 18th through 55th floors of a high-rise not far from the Burj Khalifa and the massive Dubai Mall, making it an ideal option for sightseeing. Plus, it sits across the street from an entertainment complex housing a number of restaurants and bars, though you’ll be more than content with the on-site food and beverage options. The hotel’s restaurant, Bull & Bear, is a crowd-pleaser, serving up a wonderful breakfast buffet and innovative cocktails and dishes at dinner.
How to book: Standard room rates at this Waldorf Astoria outpost start at 80,000 points per night. You can get a free standard award night here with the Hilton Honors American Express Card, which is offering 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership.
Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown
For an aesthetically pleasing stay in Dubai, choose IHG’s Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown. Conveniently tucked between the Design District and the city center, this hotel has a curated art collection featuring 200-plus Dubai-inspired pieces, with each floor dedicated to one specific artist. When you’re done checking out the art, head outside to the pool, where you’re bound to feel like a small fish in a big sea of towering skyscrapers hovering above you, before venturing out to explore all that Dubai has to offer.