Dubai is widely viewed as an obstacle between Australia and Europe. It's the ol' obligatory stopover, and anyone who's ever flown Emirates will be familiar with that airport shuffle past smoking rooms and high-end retailers.
So to be honest, Dubai was never on my hit list of must-do destinations. Of course, the thought of getting that quintessential photo riding a camel was appealing, but apart from reenacting that iconic Sex and the City scene, what else is Dubai good for?
But when I was invited to stay at one of the local hotels, I was quick to learn that Dubai was actually good for just about everything - and a haven for those who have a penchant for luxury.
Located a 45-minute drive from the airport, is a mysterious dessert castle known as the Bab Al Shams Hotel.
The combination of clay walls, palm trees and the abundance of extravagant lanterns and artefacts, make you feel like you’re literally in a scene from Aladdin.
It’s boss treatment from the moment of arrival, with guests greeted with a smile, hot towel and a soothing date tea.
The outrageous guest rooms also serve ‘A Whole New World’ vibes.
The lush linen paired with a vibrant canopy is everything you’d expect from five-star bedding. And that's not to mention the most over-the-top bath known to mankind, which is only outshone by the hotel’s pool.
Outside of the rooms there are three temperature-controlled pools with a view over the Dubai desert.
With the help of some coconut oil and a mojito from the pool bar, it's hard not to switch off from reality and feel tranquil.
But it isn't all about rest and relaxation, much like Las Vegas, Dubai is known for its buffets.
Now, we’re not talking the all-you-can-eat-for-$29 Rooty Hill RSL scenario. The Bab Al Shams’ kitchen has got your cravings covered with 10 live cooking stations, seafood specialties and more than 20 different desserts.
And, yes, there’s personalised scrambled eggs #thegoodlife.
A visit to the ‘Al Hadheerah’ restaurant is also a must.
Located amongst the dessert’s sand dunes, the buffet-styled restaurant is where food comes to life through traditional live music, performance and entertainment.
WARNING to those shy folk, audience participation is strongly encouraged.
Health fanatics, don’t be alarmed, the hotel has a fully equipped gym and health spa, perfect for those who are wanting to detox the body from all those middle eastern calories.
Meanwhile for the more adventurous of guests, there are a whole range of bucket list experiences on offer to try.
While magic carpet rides are unfortuantly not a thing, they do offer falconry archery - and ahem, it’s harder than it looks.
Guests can also enjoy a drive through the dessert dunes in an open-top Land Rover and, of course, you can release your inner Carrie Bradshaw with a camel ride.
So, the next time you’re passing through the dessert city, why not turn it into a pre/post-holiday, you deserve it.
Got a story tip? Send it to email@example.com