Dubai: Solo at the Atlantis

Aerial views from an helicopter.
The haze is common in Dubai.

Solo travel is becoming increasingly more popular. Yet, I still get shocked looks when I mention I’m going somewhere alone.
“You’re brave!”
“Don’t you get bored?”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
I’ve heard it all. I’m sure other solo travellers have heard it all too.

Something, I find, that is also commonly associated with solo travel is staying in hostels or Air bnb’s. It makes sense. It’s cheaper, you get to meet people, sometimes the locations are more convenient. Etc.

Not me. I want luxury, I want iconic stays, grandeur, opulence, the more over the top, the better. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting alone, dining alone or drinking alone.

So of course when I visited the epic city that is Dubai I had to stay at one of the most iconic hotels there – Atlantis, The Palm.

Lobby
A grand lobby

Location

The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago created by Dubai’s extensive campaign of land reclamation. Named so because, from above, it looks like a palm tree, the palm branches are each lined with uber luxurious private villas.

The main stem of the palm is a major arterial road connecting the crescent at the end of the palm, each branch and the ‘mainland’. There is also a monorail running along here, giving a public transport option to connect the Palm with the mainland. The terminal station is right at the Atlantis. The crescent of the Palm is a series of narrow islands each containing hotels and resorts – the Sofitel, W Dubai, Waldorf Astoria and of course, the Atlantis.

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Cooling down with a frozen margarita. You can drink in the hotel grounds.
Also at 41 degrees this was one of the cooler days.

Service

With very friendly reception and concierge staff they genuinely made everyone feel like a VIP guest from the start. You are given a lanyard to wear with the details of your room and room key to identify you as a hotel guest. There are areas of the hotel complex that can be accessed by the general public, and some for hotel guests only. Security guards are stationed at most entrances to the pool, beach and hotel to ensure that these areas of the hotel remain for guests only.

In addition, no matter which part of the hotel you were in there was always someone genuinely smiling and saying hello.

Facilities

Sometimes, people’s idea of a holiday is to never leave their resort. As a frequent traveller, I admit I do like to include a few days of this on every trip. My first few days in Dubai definitely consisted of that – lazing around enjoying the plentiful amenities on offer, known as the Atlantis’s Bucket List Experiences.

Food and Drink

The Kaleidoscope and Saffron restaurants both offer breakfast. Kaleidoscope is slightly larger and busier but both offer a huge array of international breakfast items. Understandably, it is very busy. So try to go early.

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A dessert wall at Kaleidoscope dinner

There are plenty of staff and, something I’ve noticed a lot when travelling alone, they sometimes forget you’re there because you are not in a big group. Regardless, they were for the most part attentive. Travelling alone, I always like to leave a non-valuable item on the table, like a book, a glasses case as I go get my food as a sign that the table is still being used.

At night the restaurant offers a super amazing nightly international buffet featuring so much food and dessert.

There are no less than eight other specialty restaurants within the Atlantis offering different international cuisines – Mediterranean, Japanese, Italian and Lebanese. Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen is also here. You’re not going to go hungry.

When I travel I am a two meal max, kind of person so a big breakfast and lunchtime coffee and an early dinner is enough for me. This hotel will take care of that for you. There is a small ‘tea room’ offering coffee and pastries and afternoon high tea.

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Plenty of bars too for that cheeky cocktail or 2 or 4 during happy hour.

Rooms

Rooms are excellent, large and spacious with a huge bathroom. To their credit, the Atlantis let me check in and enter my room at 7am on the day I arrived so that was very generous of them. I booked an ocean view room. They are cheaper than a ‘Palm View room’ with a decent view. Sunset views are not amazing from here, or at least the room I had. For the sunsets, you are better off going across the road to the break wall for unobstructed views.

Beach

The Atlantis gives you access to the ridiculously warm waters of the Persian Gulf. I’m talking water of hot tub levels of warmth. In September, when I visited, the outdoor temperatures were 43 – 46 degrees Celsius. One day it was so hot that my phone was even like “bruh. Nah. Not working today.” No photos during that period.

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The beach at the Atlantis

You could stay in here all day. But be mindful of jellyfish. There are cute pretty blue ones that harmless but the white ones will sting you. I was blissfully unaware, splashing around all of day 1 until later that day I saw a lady step into the water and not even 10 seconds later emerged crying in pain.
Yikes.
Be cautious. This is a problem throughout the Gulf so even if you were to swim at the public beaches in Dubai you may still encounter a mean jellyfish.

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The best cooling relief is getting out of the water and hoping for a mini breeze. But you’ll probably burn your feet on the hot sand as you wait for that breeze.

Plenty of sun beds. Plenty of umbrellas. Lifeguards on duty, who will assist you with jellyfish stings. And a waiter coming by to take drink orders – alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It is a perfect place to spend your days. Just remember to remain hydrated with water.

Pools

The Royal Pool: The waters of the pool are cooler. For this reason, the pools are crowded.
With. Children… ew. But it is a family resort.

To avoid crowds (and children) and enjoy the pool to yourself for a moment try and get there as soon as it opens and before you have breakfast. The only people in the pool area at that time will be the matriarch or patriarch of families chucking books, sunglasses, anything on the best sunbeds to reserve them as they go have breakfast…. only to return 1 – 2 hours later. Yes, those people are everywhere.

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Blissfully alone in the early morning at the Royal Pool.

Zero Entry Pool: This pool is shallower and more activity based but there is also a seperate Adults Only section adjacent to the pool with shisha and bar facilities.

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Zero Entry Pool

Transport

The hotel offers its own private taxis at fixed rates to get you anywhere in the city or to the airport. There is also a taxi rank right outisde the door.
There is a free shuttle to the Mall of the Emirates where you can shop to your heart’s delight and wallet’s dismay.

Shopping Avenue

From high end luxury stores like Tiffany and Co, to Starbucks, take away restaurants, souvenir stores and clothing stores where you can get some signature swimwear. The Shopping Avenue has it all. The general public are allowed to venture here as it connects to the water park but the general public cannot go into the hotel reception area as security guards will be checking to ensure you have the a valid room key.

The Lost Chambers Aquarium

The Atlantis has its very own aquarium which is also free for hotel guests! Built to make it look like you have entered a subterranean room under the ocean. Because, as the legend goes, the City of Atlantis is lost somewhere under the (Atlantic) Ocean.

It is easy to navigate through and feels like a completely immersive experience with its stunning setting.

For an even more immersive experience you can do the AquaTrek where you actually walk on the lagoon floor with some 65,000 marine animals, of all shapes and sizes, swimming by.

Aquatrek in progress.

Aquaventure Waterpark

Hotel guests get free access to the Aquaventure Waterpark located next to the hotel. Because of this, and to beat the heat and crowds I went first thing in the morning (10am opening). There are a number of rides to cater for everyone from the exhilarating to the “over the top – omg I may die of fear” rides and the relaxing as well.

Leap of faith
The Leap of Faith ride.

Perhaps one of the most famous rides is ‘The Leap of Faith”. If you love heights, pushing yourself down almost sheer vertical drops and plunging down said drop under a tank full of sharks then this ride is for you! Also, I just want to reiterate that you have to push yourself down this slide. You won’t have time to talk yourself into it. It’s go, go, go!

Conquered
After the ride. Survived. Just.

The other famous exhilarating ride is “Poseidon’s Revenge”. I remember going to the ride first thing in the morning and climbing up those stairs and thinking “it’s going to be ok. There will be a huge line and you can talk yourself out of it. You are alone. No-one will know you chickened out. It’s fine.”

Well, when I got to the top, to my shock and horror there were two people in front of me. Two. There was no time to even mentally prepare for myself for what the heck I was about to do let alone talk myself out of it.

Views
A view of Poseidon’s Revenge

Before I knew it I was in the plastic, transparent tube and a countdown started. And then it hit zero and then the floor gave way and I was free falling into this tube of water. Twisting, bending, around and around, screaming my head off until finally sunlight and into the pool. I then had to pretend that the person screaming wasn’t me… obvi.

I survived. Or did I? It’s done. Yay. No reason to ever do it again.

A ride that was more to my style was “The Rapids”.

Cut to me, climbing out of the pool after Poseidon’s Revenge finding the closest inflatable tube I could lie on and entering the pool so I could just float and literally do nothing for the duration of the ride. That is a great ride.

Aquaventure Tube ride
The Rapids.

Admittedly, the course is longer than you would expect. I paddled into one direction and before I knew it I was riding on an escalator like machine with my tube and then the ride kept going and going and going until I could finally get out. Now I had no idea where I was and had to get back to the place where all my belongings were.

The “Zoomerango” and “Aquaconda” rides are two similar rides in which a group of people ride on a large circular flotation device down a water roller coaster. The Zoomerango is a little bit more exhilarating in that there is a short free fall section where you get to launch high up a ramp. The Aquaconda has a section of pure darkness. Both are spectacularly fun. Both require you to share with a group of people which means:
SINGLE. RIDER. LINE.
Hell yeah!!!

And of course don’t forget you can swim with the dolphins and sea lions in some extra special experiences at the waterpark.

Aquaventure Tips

– Hire a locker to store some valuables. Try to avoid bringing so many valuables especially if you’re a hotel guest.
– Get there first thing in the morning.
– Towels are available in the park.
– Bring a pair of water shoes, reef shoes or aqua socks. You can wear them on most, if not all, rides and the concrete gets excruciatingly hot in the 40+ degree celcius weather.
– This should go without saying but keep hydrated. Water. Water. Water

Right next to the Atlantis is the Helipad. A helicopter ride is an absolute must when in Dubai. I’m going to do a seperate post on my helicopter ride. But it is a must!

You can’t go wrong staying here especially if coming with a family and young children. But, couples would love it, and honestly, even as a solo traveller I still had a great time here. I do recommend to give yourself time and lots of it. There is so much to see and do here at the resort, let alone in Dubai, that you may just want to add it as a Staycation to your Dubai visit.

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