Image: Dubai Tourism

“Arabian nights… like Arabian days… more often than not hotter than hot… in a lot of good ways.” Ah Aladdin’s genie knew what he was talking about. The UAE is hot, yes, but boy does it have some serious honeymoon hotspots.

Okay, so the bright lights and big city of Dubai are definitely a magic carpet ride from Aladdin’s Arabia, but stick with us, there’s another side to Dubai, beyond the skyscrapers, where you can make your honeymoon dreams come true – flying carpet ride or not.

Image: Dubai Tourism

An Arabian night
Where you stay makes a big difference in Dubai. Go Downtown and you’ll have your pick of five star skyrise hotels within walking distance of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, Dubai Mall. Head down to The Palm and park yourself in the Atlantis The Palm’s sprawling pink palace.

But for something truly unique, make a beeline to Al Seef. Located along the riverbanks of Dubai Creek, this is the city’s ‘cultural district’ – it resembles a traditional old town, with low lying buildings housing market stalls, hurricane lamps, fabric awnings propped up on sticks, food vendors pushing carts, fishing boats bobbing on the Creek – it’s straight out of Aladdin. In actual fact, these streets were built from the ground up back in 2017 to resemble the Dubai of yesteryear. You’ll do a double take it’s so authentic, but a careful eye will catch the keyrings among the rugs and cushion covers for sale. The architecture harks back to Dubai’s days as a pearl diving port and make this the perfect spot to escape the big city hustle.

Really step back in time with a stay at the Al Seef Heritage Hotel, which has rooms dotted amongst the shop fronts. Now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, the boutique hotel is a little like stepping into the set of an Indiana Jones movie and a little like a glamorous safari lodge. There are open air lounge rooms with cushions on the floor, copper tin sinks, more hurricane lamps and beautiful wood carved beds.

Images: Dubai Tourism & Stuart Flisher of White Cube Studios

A waterfront retreat
People often seem to forget how much prime waterfront there is in Dubai – and you’ll find some of the best spots in Jumeirah. There’s less construction in this well-established expat enclave, and plenty of spots to soak up the uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf’s calm pale blue seas. T

he Mandarin Oriental Jumeira laps up the views with a luxe beach club vibe straight out of a beach club resort in the Maldives or Europe. Doormen in top hats and jackets will lead you inside the palatial lobby, skirt the towering macarons and delicate French gateaux of their gorgeous cake shop and carry on towards the pool, and the ocean beyond. From here on in, it’s all about beach chic. There are pod-like day beds, deck chairs and cabanas sprawled out on the sand and the meticulously manicured grass. Grab an outdoor table at The Bay, the hotel’s chic indoor/outdoor eatery and tuck into elegant burrata avocado tartine, traditional Greek moussaka, or lobster tagliatelle. It’s straight out of the Med and we never want to leave.

Images: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Dubai

Bliss out
Dubai has a reputation for whirlwind stopovers – speedy sightseeing, serious shopping, maybe even a waterslide or two to get the blood pumping. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Relaxation is big business in a busy city. After lunch, spend a few hours sequestered away in the Spa at Mandarin Oriental. A few hours here, and you’ll both be lapping up the wedded bliss. The his and hers mineral baths, sauna, steam room and heated loungers are a treat before the treatment even begins. The Spa uses traditional Asian therapies, with local UAE influences – think light Emirati drumming in the Nomadic Sensory Journey and 24 carat gold and saffron in the Royal Saffron ritual. There’s also an influence closer to home, with the Blissful Marma Massage using Aussie natural skincare brand Subtle Energies to help loosen tight muscles and stimulate energy points. Tuck yourselves into the post-massage wellness pods with a cup of tea before heading back out into the sunshine.

Images: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Dubai

Curled up in cocoon pods, sprawled out on day beds, strolling through ancient fishing villages – it’s a whole new world, Dubai-style.

Ms Floral Says: Dubai is definitely one to add to the bucket list, and makes for a different but still super luxurious and relaxing honeymoon! Also, the food would be sensational.

About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.