You may also like these photo galleries
The Nikki Beach brand has done such a solid job of cornering markets where there's a lively beach culture that it's perhaps a surprise it took so long to get a foothold in Dubai. Transplanting an airy brand of coastal cool that's worked so well in Thailand, Greece, and Turkey, they offer a collection of 117 rooms and suites, as well as 15 ultra-deluxe villas and 63 "lifestyle residence units". If that all sounds like corporate flim-flam, then it does little to describe the light, ivory tones carried through the property and onto the warm sand, the warm water of the Gulf lapping at the shore, or the perfectly appointed signature beach club. Doubles from $375; see nikkibeachhotels.com
LA VILLE CITY WALK
City Walk is one of those Dubaian projects that seemed to spring up from desert wasteland, fully formed in a matter of weeks. In reality, years of planning and construction went into this new retail and leisure development in the old Jumeirah neighbourhood. This area is fast changing, thanks in no small part to the arrival of the city's ambitious new waterways project. La Ville City Walk is alone in the area as a quality hotel with easy access to many of the city's attractions. None are exactly on the doorstep, but it feels like nothing important is more than 10 minutes away in the cab. Inside, carnivores will love its grill restaurant Graze. Doubles from $370; see livelaville.com
Many hotels claim to be unique, but the Yas Viceroy down in Abu Dhabi genuinely is. That remarkable phallic hotel straddles the Formula One track, drivers flying through its underbelly. Things are a good deal quieter at their new Dubai property, which is located at the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah. As well as the placid waters of the Gulf, there are knock-out views of the insane skyline that makes up the Dubai Marina. With over 470 rooms across 16 floors, this isn't exactly a boutique hotel, but Viceroy are undeniable experts at creating luxury for one of the more reasonable prices anywhere on the Palm. Doubles from $250; see viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Without an efficient postal system there aren't many addresses in Dubai, but there are many Addresses. The brand found itself earning unwanted headlines on December 31, 2015 when its flagship property went up in flames just as new year celebrations were starting. Its charred remains are under restoration (hopefully this time with flame-retardant) but before its resurrection, the brand has opened the new, nearby Address BLVD. Right next to the Dubai Mall, this 72-floor monster literally spends part of the day in the shadow of the world's tallest building The Burj Khalifa. Doubles from $415; see theaddress.com
JUMEIRAH AL NASEEM
There aren't many hotels which can be regarded as destinations in themselves but the colossal Madinat Jumeirah is one such property. Already one of the largest hotels in the country, it's somehow justified an extension with Al Naseem. Located on the same side as the Dubai icon that is the Burj Al Arab, Al Naseem gives local brand Jumeirah a near total monopoly of a couple of kilometres of Dubai's coastline. Staying here gives you access to all Jumeirah properties – and the combined 40 restaurants found dotted around the Madinat's faux-Venetian canals. Doubles from $340; see jumeirah.com
When the original Dukes hotel was built in London, the UAE was little more than a tribal community forming part of the Trucial States. In 1908, it's unlikely many of those attending the opening of the London hotel would have been able to find Dubai on a map, but since April this year it's had a Dukes of its own. Located on the sunny Palm Jumeirah, it's a world away from the grey formality of the British mothership, but still strives to replicate some of that end-of-Empire elegance. Doubles from $365; see dukesdubai.com
Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Nikki Beach and City Walk hotels.
Listen: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater
To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.