Skip to Content

WHERE TO STAY IN DUBAI: 8 Best Areas by an Expat [2023]

Not sure where to stay in Dubai? I feel you! It’s not a minor decision, options are endless and the city is huge. But I’ve got you covered. Check out this guide to the best areas to stay in Dubai.

Dubai is the biggest city in the UAE. With over 3 million inhabitants, it might look all small and innocent on the map, but, in reality, the city is huge and it takes time (and money) to move around.

How big is it? Well, for you to have an idea, Dubai occupies an area over 5 times that of New York City. I’m not kidding! Unbelievable, right?

Image of tall, modern buildings in the background and boats in the front, inserted in a post about where to stay in Dubai

So, if you’re wondering in what area to stay in Dubai, I would recommend that you have a rough idea in advance of the attractions you will want to see and choose accommodation accordingly.

The part of the city where you stay will affect your experience in —and perception of— Dubai, and there are many different neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. 

For starters, I recommend staying in two different parts of the city during your trip so you can be close to different attractions, and if you’re looking to use public transportation, make sure to pick an area that is served by the metro. Trust me, it’ll be cheaper and easier to move around town.

Here you will find a list of different areas where to stay in Dubai as a tourist, accommodation suggestions, and nearby attractions.

Downtown Dubai

This is the Dubai you probably think of when you think about Dubai: ultramodern architecture, high-end shopping, the finest restaurants, the biggest, tallest, most luxurious everything. 

Downtown Dubai is, in many ways, the heart of the city, which evolves and revolves at a fast pace. Everything happens here, so much so that it has been dubbed “the center of now”. And the main advantage? Most of the biggest attractions are found here, making it arguably the best place to stay in Dubai for tourists.

Some of the attractions you’ll find in this area are:

  • Burj Khalifa: the tallest skyscraper in the world
  • Dubai Mall: the biggest shopping center in the world, complete with the impressive Dubai Aquarium and the world’s tallest performing fountain, which offers water, music, and light shows, as well as hundreds of shops and a cool waterfall.
  • The Dubai Opera
  • Sky View Observatory: another incredible viewpoint in Dubai. Here you can slide down a glass slide!
  • The most luxurious shops, best restaurants, and exclusive nightclubs.

Stay in downtown Dubai if: 
• You want to be in the middle of the action. Here, you’ll be close (walking distance) to many of the main attractions in the city and be able to get virtually anywhere by metro.
• You are in the city for business. Many companies have their offices here.
• It’s also the best area to stay in Dubai first timers, if you want to visit landmarks and get a good introduction of the city.

Don’t stay in Downtown Dubai if: 
• You are not ready to splurge. You won’t find any budget hotels here (or anything budget, really). Downtown Dubai is the most exclusive area of an already very exclusive city, so if you’re on a budget, it’s better to stay somewhere else.
• You want to be close to the beach, since the Marina is 23 km away. Yes, Dubai is that big!

If you’re wondering where to stay in Downtown Dubai, I have to warn you that the list of options is veeeeery long, so picking one can be a challenge. Here are some suggestions for you:

LUXURYAddress Sky View Hotel – Built by the same developer in charge of building the Burj Khalifa, this 5-star hotel is in the center of town, and directly connected to the mall and the Dubai Metro through an elevator. If you’re looking for hotels in Dubai near Dubai Mall, you can’t get better than this one.

It features a fitness center with a Yoga studio, personal trainers, and state-of-the-art gym equipment; a spa and wellness center; a gourmet restaurant and patisserie; and an outdoor pool with a sun-lunging deck, panoramic city views, private cabanas, and a pool bar. Talk about luxury.

LUXURY: Armani Hotel Dubai – This is one of the best places to stay in Dubai for fashionistas, since Giorgio Armani himself participated in the design of this upscale hotel that carries his signature style of elegance, simplicity, and sophistication. 

The hotel occupies 11 floors of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), it has a private entrance and direct access to Dubai Mall. It also includes a deluxe spa and wellness center, 7 fine-dining restaurants, a swimming pool, and a fitness center.

MID-RANGE: Rove Downtown Dubai – Set in a modern skyscraper, this 4-star hotel offers rooms with views of the Burj Khalifa. With artworks wherever you look, the Rove has personality for days and will appeal to design lovers. 

It has a more friendly and relaxed vibe than other hotels in this category, with co-working spaces in the lobby, a gamers’ room, and even its own boutique cinema. Of course, an outdoor pool, a gym, and a fitness center are featured. At walking distance to the Burj Khalifa, the Rove offers good value for money.

Dubai Marina

The Marina is the area right behind the first line of buildings by the beach, and the one where many westerners choose to live, which sometimes translates into fewer restrictions and looser rules. 

Dubai is not really a very walkable city, but this is a good area for a pleasant stroll along the promenade, and it’s within walking distance from the beach. 

The Marina is also close to Palm Jumeirah (the famous tree-shaped island), but very far from virtually everything else: it’s over 20 km to sights like the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, etc., and 30 km to the more authentic parts of town, like the Old Town.

While slightly cheaper than Downtown Dubai, it’s still an expensive part of town, and good budget hotels might be hard to find.

Some of the attractions you’ll find in this area are:

  • Marina Walk: A waterfront boardwalk lined with shops and eateries
  • Dubai Marina Mall: Home to plenty of luxurious retail stores
  • Yacht Cruises to sail along the marina both during the day and at night
  • Plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants to admire the city from above

Stay in Dubai Marina if: 
• You want to be near the beach.
• You want to be able to go for strolls and walk around.
• You want to be in a luxurious and lively area, with all the modern amenities and comfort, but a bit quieter than downtown (as long as you stay off the main strip).

Don’t stay in Dubai Marina if: 
• Your main goal is to go shopping. Of course, there are shopping centers here, but Downtown Dubai offers many more options to shop.
• You want to be near the main attractions. Although it’s close to Palm Jumeirah, it’s quite far from other attractions.

LUXURYAddress Dubai Marina – Overlooking the waterfront, this five-star hotel has direct access to the Dubai Marina Mall, an infinity pool, a children’s pool, a spa, a fitness center, and several gourmet dining options. And it’s only a 5-minute walk to the beach!

MID-RANGECrowne Plaza Dubai Marina – Only a 1-minute walk from the Dubai Marina Mall and 700 meters from the beach, the Crowne features 5 restaurants, an outdoor pool, spa, gym, and bar. It’s also very close to several metro stations, so it’s a good choice if you want to get around the city more freely.

ON A BUDGETRove Dubai Marina – Just as artsy as its downtown relative, the Rove Dubai Marina has rooms with great views. It also offers private office rooms, which makes it a great option for digital nomads and business people looking for a relaxed vibe and who want to be near the beach, which is 10 minutes away on foot.


This is the area right next to the famous Palm Jumeirah, the palm-shaped island with posh shops and hotels, and fantastic views of the beach and the iconic Burj Al Arab (more on that below!). 

This is a coastal residential/hotel area, quiet and with beautiful sandy beaches, including public ones. Don’t expect a lot of action here in terms of nightlife.

Jumeirah is best enjoyed by those who want to be by the beach, visit the Wild Wadi Waterpark, or go shopping – the huge Mall of the Emirates and its indoor ski slope are close to Jumeirah too!

There is no such thing as “budget hotels” in Jumeirah, and what is considered budget here is still expensive by most standards. The area is also quite isolated since there is no metro station. Prepare to take taxis to get anywhere.

Some of the attractions you’ll find in this area are:

  • Wild Wadi Waterpark
  • Jumeirah Public Beach: A long, white-sand beach that’s great for swimming and enjoying watersports
  • Jumeirah Mosque: It welcomes visitors and offers guided tours, providing insights into the country’s culture and religion
  • La Mer: A beachside dining and shopping district with entertainment and great vibes, especially in the evening
  • Forever Rose Cafe, the one and only 2D cafe in Dubai

Stay in Jumeirah if
• Your main focus is to spend a luxurious vacation by the beach. This is not the best district to stay in Dubai for virtually anything else.

Don’t stay in Jumeirah if
• You want to visit many other attractions in Dubai. The area is a bit isolated and not well connected to the rest of the city, since it doesn’t have a metro station close by.

ULTRA-LUXURYBurj Al Arab – Life doesn’t get any fancier than this! Topping the list of the best hotels to stay in Dubai —or at the very least the most luxurious— is Burj Al Arab, one of the most famous hotels in the world, where guests can arrive by Rolls Royce or helicopter transfer alike. 

Its floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of the Gulf, it features 2 outdoor pools, 32 private cabanas, a private beach, and a bar suspended 200 meters above sea level. And that is only the beginning.

LUXURYJumeirah Beach Hotel – With spectacular views of the Gulf, this hotel has a private beach, over 10 restaurants and bars, 5 swimming pools, and even a climbing wall. A great option for families, and those looking for an extra dose of fun, since guests also get free unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark.

LUXURY: Dar Al Masyaf Hotel – Especially lovely for a hideaway type of holiday, Dar Al Masyaf offers summerhouses set among gardens, seawater channels, pools, and a private beach. The facilities include an onsite theater, over 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, tennis courts, yachts, and even a golf course.

ON A BUDGET: Park Regis Boutique Hotel – Again, there is no such thing as budget accommodation in this area, but the Park Regis is one of the least expensive options around here. It is very close to the public beach, with a simple and elegant design that mixes tradition and modernity. Perfect for a relaxing vacation with a more intimate feel than other venues in Jumeirah.

Barsha Heights

You probably won’t find Barsha Heights in many lists of the best areas to stay in Dubai, but I say it’s worth considering it. Granted, there are no tourist attractions here, but this area is in a very strategic location —kind of in between the main tourist areas— and it’s very well connected to the rest of the city by metro.

The area consists mostly of residential and commercial buildings, so you won’t find any luxury options here, but there is a good selection of good and affordable mid-range hotels and aparthotels

If you go to Dubai in the summer (which is the low season), prices can drop as low as 50 USD a night for a nice hotel, an extremely affordable figure for Dubai standards. So it’s really worth taking it into consideration if you don’t want to break your wallet, and want to have easy access to the main attractions in the city.

Stay in Barsha Heights if
• You are on a budget or want more for your bucks and want to be in an area that is well-connected to the rest of the city.

Don’t stay in Barsha Heights if
• You’re looking for luxury, want to be within walking distance to Dubai’s tourist attractions, or want to avoid public transport as much as possible.

MID-RANGETRYP by Wyndham Dubai – This is a good mid-range option, with a pool, fitness rooms, 3 restaurants, and a coworking space. Perfect for digital nomads who want to know Dubai without blowing up their budget. The metro is 5 minutes away. We’ve spent literally months in this hotel over the last 2 years, and it’s our go-to hotel in Dubai. During summer, a room can cost as little as 40 USD.

MID-RANGE: Citadines Metro Central Apartments – If you’re not so much into the hotel vibe, this is a good alternative. At Citadines, they offer elegant studios and suites with shared open-plan living and dining areas. There is a rooftop pool, health and fitness center, and it’s only 50 meters from the metro station.

HOSTELKaya Hostel – Even hostels have a tinge of luxury in Dubai. This is a great option for budget travelers, who will get to enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, garden, and even a sauna, facilities not normally found in hostels! A 10-minute walk to the metro.

Palm Jumeirah

An image of the man-made, tree-shaped island of Palm Jumeirah, one of the best areas where to stay in Dubai

We’re going back to a very exclusive part of Dubai: Palm Jumeirah

Home to many of the best hotels in Dubai, the famous palm-shaped island may look small from the air, but don’t be deceived, it spans over 7 kilometers from one end to the other. 

A monorail gives you access to the island from the mainland and serves some parts of The Palm. It doesn’t get to all, though, so get ready to take a lot of taxis if you want to get, well, anywhere.

Palm Jumeirah is perfect for those looking for a luxurious beach vacation and who want to forget about the world. It’s a great area to relax and spend your days basking in the sun on the beach or by the pool. You can also enjoy the comforts of 5-star all-inclusive resorts, and get pampered in the spas and wellness centers they offer. 

For some adrenaline, you can visit the Aquaventure Waterpark. This magnificent waterpark is the world’s largest one, and features over 100 rides and slides. You could (and should) spend a whole day here to visit all its attractions! It’s a kid-friendly park, but there are also some exhilarating rides that will have you – a grown-up – gripping the sides of the slide.

Palm Jumeirah is one of the most iconic parts of the city, which means… no budget accommodation. You saw that coming, didn’t you? 

Some of the attractions you’ll find in this area are:

  • The View at the Palm: It’s the ultimate viewpoint to admire the palm from above, making out its perfect shape and marveling at its size.
  • Aquaventure Waterpark: Part of the famous hotel Atlantis The Palm, this massive waterpark features numerous slides, ziplines, splash areas for kids, and thrilling activities
  • The Lost Chambers Aquarium: It’s Dubai’s largest aquarium, and it’s built based on the legend of Atlantis, featuring underwater buildings, tunnels, and chambers
  • Beach by FIVE: A spectacular beach club, it offers cabanas and day beds, a glass-lined pool, and jacuzzis, as well as a bar and a restaurant

Stay in Palm Jumeirah if:
• You just want to stay at a luxurious resort and have a beach vacation: many of the best all-inclusive resorts in Dubai are located here.
• You want to spend a few beach-only days within a bigger trip in Dubai.
• You don’t mind spending a good amount on taxis to get around.

Don’t stay in Palm Jumeirah if:
• You’re on a budget (needless to say).
• You want to know other parts of the city and need to be near public transport.
• You don’t want to spend a lot of money on taxis.

LUXURYAtlantis The Palm – A landmark of Dubai, this 5-star hotel offers breathtaking views of the Gulf and The Palm, an underwater aquarium, free access to the Aquaventure Water Park, a kids club, fitness center, spa, boutique shops, and many world-class dining venues with stunning views. You can also book helicopter tours or transportation to the airport!

LUXURY: Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai Hotel – Located on the trunk of The Palm, this hotel has over 400 rooms decorated in a simple and elegant style that offer amazing views of either the sea or the Marina skyline. The Dubai Palm hotel has its own private beach, 5 outdoor swimming pools, many restaurants to choose from, a modern spa, and even a karaoke room. 

MID-RANGE: Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort – Anantara offers a private beach and 3 swimming pools, dinners by the beach by candlelight, many water activities (snorkeling, diving, and more), a kids club, a Thai-inspired spa, endless entertainment options, and restaurants with a wide range of cuisines. Some villas are right by the sea, and one of them even has a private infinity pool!

ON A BUDGET: Andaz by Hyatt – Palm Jumeirah – Even though I list it as budget, this is a 5-star boutique hotel, yet slightly less luxurious than the previous ones. Located on the trunk of The Palm, it has an outdoor pool, continental breakfast, a restaurant, a fitness center, a spa, and rooms with seating areas and gorgeous views of the sea and the city.

Al Seef and Bur Dubai

Al Seef and Bur Dubai are right next to each other, and they are the best locations to stay in Dubai if you want to get a taste of the old and the new at the same time.

Al Seef is a small area developed as recently as 2017 by the creek where the early settlers used to live. Even though the constructions are very new, they were designed to celebrate the area’s proud beginnings as a port and diving hotspot for the pearling industry. 

The architecture of Al Seef resembles that of old times and pays tribute to Dubai’s history and Arabian traditions. It’s a charming area, very pleasant to stroll, both along the creek and on the alleys full of cute shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels. There is even a fun Museum of Illusions!

Stay in Al Seef if:
• You want the best of both worlds: old-world feeling and looks with modern amenities and comfort.
• You are interested in the culture and history of Dubai.
• You like to take Instagram-worthy photos! The area is very picturesque and charming.
• You want to stay in a quieter area with a more authentic vibe.

Don’t stay in Al Seef if:
• You want to be easily connected with the rest of the city. There is no metro here and you will need to take taxis to get around.
• You are looking for the modern, most luxurious side of Dubai.
• You want to be near the main attractions of the city or the beach.

Bur Dubai is where it all started. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, sitting on the west bank of the creek, and home to the oldest building in town. The Al Fahidi Fort, which was originally a fortress, now hosts the Dubai Museum.

This is a vibrant, colorful, and multicultural area, home to a wealth of cultural and artistic gems. In Bur Dubai you’ll find galleries, museums, arts & crafts shops, typical bazaars, and ethnic food for all tastes.

Albeit less modern than Al Seef, it also has an authentic flavor that you won’t find in other parts of Dubai.

Stay in Bur Dubai if:
• You are looking for budget options or affordable luxury options.
• You want to be well connected to the rest of the city. Here you have the metro or you could even hop on a water taxi to the city center.
• You want to be relatively near Downtown Dubai without spending a fortune on accommodation.

Don’t stay in Bur Dubai if:
• You want to be surrounded by modern skyscrapers and luxury shops.
• You want to be near Palm Jumeirah and the Marina.
• You are in Dubai for the upscale accommodation, shopping malls, and exclusive clubs.

UNIQUEAl Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton – A fantastic option with a vintage vibe to stay in Al Seef. Right on the banks of Dubai’s creek, its rooms overlook the water, and the rooftops and charming alleyways of the old town. Beautifully constructed and decorated in traditional Arab style but with modern services, such as a pool, spa, and gym, you won’t forget it easily. It’s only 10 km from the Burj Khalifa.

MID-RANGE: Canvas Dubai – MGallery Hotel Collection – The Canvas is located in the heart of Bur Dubai, within walking distance of the Dubai Museum, the creek, and the Gold Suk, Dubai’s most famous market. It features an outdoor swimming pool on the rooftop, a huge spa, two restaurants serving international dishes, and several theme bars. One of the best hotels in Bur Dubai in this category.

ON A BUDGETHampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef – Another option by Hilton, but this time with a more modern look and playful touch, the Hampton features more than a hundred rooms with views of the city or the courtyards, three food outlets, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center. It’s right by the creek, across the water from the Textile market.

ON A BUDGET: FORM Hotel Dubai – This is a simple yet elegant choice to stay in Bur Dubai and very close to transport to the rest of the city: the metro station is only 300 meters from the hotel. The highlight here is the rooftop, featuring an outdoor swimming pool with fantastic views of Dubai’s skyline, and a fitness center overlooking the water.


Across the creek from Al Seef, there’s Deira, where you’ll find some of the cheapest hotels in Dubai. This makes it one of the most friendly areas for those traveling on a budget. It’s also right next to Dubai’s International Airport, so a good choice if you’re arriving late at night or are on a layover.

This was the first commercial district in Dubai and it’s still home to many souks (markets), like the famous Dubai Gold Souk. A perfect place if you want to experience the more real and traditional side of Dubai.

Some of the attractions you’ll find in this area are:

  • The Dubai Souks: The Gold Souk, the Spice Souk, and Textiles Souk are all located in Deira, and they’re one of Dubai’s main landmarks
  • Deira Clocktower: This impressive monument, built in the 1960s, is a very popular roundabout in Deira

Stay in Deira if:
• You are on a real budget. Accommodation is more affordable than in other areas.
• You want to be close to the airport.
• You don’t mind being far from the tourist attractions (the area is well-connected through the metro).

Don’t stay in Deira if:
• You are looking for luxury.
• You want to be close to the main tourist attractions in the city or the beach.

AFFORDABLE LUXURY: Al Bandar Rotana – Dubai Creek – This is a modern and stylish hotel right next to Dubai Creek. It features an entertainment center, five dining venues, a wellness and fitness center, and rooms with great views of the city or the water. This is a good choice if you’re in Dubai for business, since it’s very close to the airport, the World Trade Center, and the Diplomatic District.

MID-RANGE: Aloft Dubai Creek – Modern and with colorful touches, this hotel has gorgeous views over the water and the city skyline. An affordable option, complete with pool, spa, and fitness center, super close to the airport!

ON A BUDGET: Rove City Centre – A very good budget option for those not interested in luxury or top-notch services, and who need to be near the airport. This hotel offers spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, and a modest but good fitness center less than 10 minutes from the airport.

ON A TIGHT BUDGET: Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Hotel – If you’re on a very tight budget or only need to make a pit stop in Dubai, this is as affordable as accommodation can get in this city. Conveniently, this hotel offers a free shuttle service from the airport. There’s a pool, hot tubs, and a sun terrace on the rooftop, an on-site restaurant, a pub, and Costa Cafe downstairs, and a 24-hour gym. Not bad for a budget choice!

As you can see, selecting the best location to stay in Dubai will greatly depend on your wishes and priorities, and there is really something for everyone. I hope this guide was useful for you to get an idea of where to stay in Dubai, for beach, city, or whatever you’re interests are. Now, what are you waiting for? Go pack your suitcase!

Where to Stay in Dubai FAQ

Which is the best area to stay in Dubai?

It really depends on what your priorities are, but, generally speaking, Downtown Dubai and the Marina are the best areas.

Can unmarried couples stay in hotels in Dubai? 

Yes, now they can. It used to be illegal in Dubai for unmarried couples to stay in the same room, but a recent law has changed this, so no need to worry about it anymore.

Which is the poshest area in Dubai? 

There are many posh areas in Dubai, but Palm Jumeirah tops that list.

Where is best to stay in Dubai with kids?

Dubai is full of fun places for the little ones, but Palm Jumeirah is the best place to stay if you’re traveling with kids: it has easy access to the beaches (usually part of your hotel), most hotels have incredible kids clubs, all of them have pools for kids to play at, and the Aquaventure Waterpark is located here. There’s also an aquarium at The Palm. Fun for ages.

Where to stay in Dubai with family?

Palm Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai are arguably the best areas, each offering different but equally amazing entertaining options. Palm Jumeirah is more (although not only) about the beach and water-related activities, while Downtown Dubai has tons of opportunities for fun at the different malls.

Is Deira a good place to stay in Dubai?

Deira is a good place if you are on a tight budget or want to be close to the airport. For everything else, there are better places.

Where to stay in Dubai on a budget? 

There aren’t that many cheap places to stay in Dubai, but the most affordable locations if you’re on a budget are Deira, Bur Dubai, and Barsha Heights.

Where is best to stay in Dubai for nightlife?

If what you’re looking for is clubs, bars, and all the biggest names in Dubai’s nightlife, head to Downtown Dubai.

Where is better to stay in Dubai: city or beach?

This depends entirely on your priorities and preferences. To see the best of Dubai, a good idea is to split your time between some time in the city and some time at the beach.

What are the best places to stay in Dubai for couples?

Most hotels will provide everything you may need for a romantic stay, but The Palm probably tops the list of best areas for couples: right on the beach, relaxing and quiet. If you want a bit more action (bars, nightlife), head to the Marina.

Are there any long-stay hotels in Dubai?

Some hotels in Dubai offer deals for extended stays, especially during the low season, but they’re usually not available all year round. If you want to stay for a longer period (let’s say over a month) without paying normal hotel prices, look for hotel apartments instead. They offer monthly rent throughout the year.

Where is best to stay in Dubai for one night?

This depends on what you’re in the city for. If you’re just on a layover and have no interest in the city, stay in Deira, which is near the airport. If you’d like to get a taste of Dubai in only one night, definitely head to Downtown Dubai.

Where do celebrities stay in Dubai?

Palm Jumeirah seems to be, by far, the area most often chosen by celebrities, especially Atlantis The Palm, one of the city’s (and the world’s) most famous hotels. Ultraluxurious Burj Al Arab seems to be a popular choice too, and some other resorts in Jumeirah.

What’s the cheapest hotel in Dubai near Dubai mall?

Downtown Dubai isn’t precisely known for its cheap accommodation. One of the most affordable hotels in the area, though, that’s also near the mall, is Emirates Grand Hotel.

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.