Dubai will wow you with its steel-dressed skyscrapers and soaring buildings, its dhow-dotted harbours and shimmering beaches, audacious shopping malls and bustling gold bazaars. Once a simple fishing port on the Persian Gulf, it’s taken just a few decades to transform it into one of the world’s most futuristic and fantastical metropolises. These days, it’s a hubbub of Arabian culture that’s enlivened with a huge expat population, fizzing with nightlife and sprawling souqs under the gaze of the great Burj Khalifa – the tallest tower on the planet. And when you’re not shopping and partying? There are white-sand beaches and the shifting Arabian Desert to explore.
There’s now upwards of 5,000 listings on offer via Airbnb in Dubai. Among them are enticing luxury condos with access to pools and gyms and high-perched rooftop terraces. But you’ll also find beachfront pads near the soft sands of the Persian Gulf, and minimalist apartments with enough space to fit the whole family. This guide can help you home in on the areas and individual rentals that are perfect for your break to the biggest city of the UAE this year…
Airbnb and the tourism board of Dubai signed an agreement back in 2016 that ended years of uncertainty about the platform in the city. It made short-term rentals totally legal and allowed, so long as owners registered their properties with local authorities and paid the correct tourist taxes. As a traveler, that means you don’t have to worry one iota when it comes to staying in an Airbnb in Dubai. You’re free to book whatever condo or penthouse overlooking the Persian Gulf you wish, and can even double check your host has all the necessary documents by dropping them a quick message.
Where should I stay in Dubai Airbnb?
Where to begin? How about the glinting shoreline of Jumeirah Beach(1), which melds nightlife and chic living by the sands? Or, maybe you’d prefer the beguiling maze of alleys and souq bazaars that is Old Dubai(2)? Elsewhere in this town is the upcoming Dubai Design District(3) and its cutting-edge galleries, along with Downtown Dubai(4), the stomping ground of major shopping malls and soaring skyscrapers like the Burj. To be nearer the salt water and have luxury Airbnbs with fantastic views, you might want to consider Dubai Marina(5) or the manmade archipelago of the Palm Jumeirah (6).
Proximity to the beaches
Luxury condos with shared pools
Jumeirah Beach might just be the most coveted postcode in all of Dubai. It marks the point where the metropolis meets the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf in a sliver of shimmering sands dotted with more bars and deluxe hotels than you can shake a shisha pipe at. The prestigious forest of skyscrapers that is the Jumeirah Beach Residences (known as JBR for short) is the place to go hunting for those Airbnbs – a lot of the pads within have alluring features like shared swimming pools and views over the coast.
If you’re after a more authentic glimpse of day-to-day Dubai life, the dusty and venerable quarter of Old Dubai could be the perfect place to bag an Airbnb. Spreading off the sloshing waters of Dubai Creek, it’s a maze of stone-covered alleys and gypsum buildings dashed in beige. It’s here that you’ll get to see the oldest building in the metropolis (the Al Fahidi Fort) and delve into UAE heritage at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. It’s perfect for culture buffs and history lovers alike.
The Dubai Design District is a relative newcomer to the list of top neighbourhoods in this sprawling city. Known to the locals as, simply, D3, it’s been making waves with its cutting-edge public art installations. You’ll find them spreading out along the main walkways by Dubai Creek, punctuated by plenty of European-style cafés and coffee roasters. D3 is also a major hotspot for upcoming independent galleries, which have regularly-changing exhibits showcasing the finest Arabian artists of the day.
Split in two by the endless stream of cars and people that is Sheikh Zayed Road, Downtown Dubai is the Dubai you’ve seen on the postcards. The cloud-shattering Burj Khalifa crashes skywards here, while iconic retail precincts like The Dubai Mall and the UFO-looking Dubai Opera swirl around at ground level. If you’re after a break filled with shopping and sightseeing and meals in high-altitude restaurants, this is surely the area for you!
Dubai Marina is one of the city’s fun-loving, family-friendly quarters. It straddles a manmade inlet on the edge of the Persian Gulf, its countless quaysides dotted with millionaire yachts and chic restaurants (some even with Michelin stars). Talking of restaurants…the conglomeration of eateries at the Pier 7 complex touts everything from scrumptious Mediterranean brunches to spicy Asian stir fries. Around that come cinema screens, big shopping malls, and even a wakeboarding outfitter!
The Palm Jumeirah is surely one of the most audacious urban developments of all time, anywhere in the world. It’s essentially an entire manmade island set out in the sparkling Persian Gulf that’s shaped like an Arabian palm tree. The whole thing is covered in uber-luxurious villas and condominium complexes, so there’s no shortage of Airbnb rentals for those on the hunt for a little pampering. The area also excels in R&R. Private beaches rub shoulders with sleek cocktail bars, there are celebrity kitchens and even colossal waterparks. You could spend your entire holiday on The Palm and not get bored!
Wow! There’s really no way to overstate the sheer luxury of this soaring penthouse on the Dubai Marina. It’s a picture of opulent living, with huge floor-to-ceiling glass making up most of the walls and floods of light pushing through the great dining room and lounge to a twisted spiral staircase. That goes up to a trio of bedrooms that enjoy sweeping panoramas of the city. There’s also a plunge pool and a Jacuzzi for those nights in.
There’s a whiff of the South of France about the outdoor terrace in this gorgeous Plus listing. It comes strewn with bougainvillea and shaded by white-painted trellises – the perfect place to sit and socialise on those balmy Arabian nights. Delve within and the bright walls offer a breath of calm within the big city, running through four bedrooms and just as many bathrooms, along with a stylish kitchen-diner area.
Luxury 3+1-bedroom Villa with Private Swimming Pool
Not far from the buzz of the Jumeirah Marina and the sparkling shores of Dubai, this three-bedroom villa boasts access to a shared swimming pool, tennis courts, and a children’s playground. Families should have plenty of space to relax and spread out, thanks to the trio of separate bedrooms and bathrooms. Outside, you’ll find a large BBQ and dining patio. Inside is a big lounge with flat-screen TV.
A whopping 7,000 square foot of living room awaits groups of up to 16 guests in this entire estate over on the Palm Jumeirah. It counts six separate bedrooms (all ensuite, of course) and chic lounge spaces with touches of Japanese and Scandinavian design. Outside are bespoke sunbeds in a grassy garden right by the water’s edge, along with a huge private pool.
With a coveted Luxe rating from Airbnb, this gorgeous penthouse catches the eye with its location up in the famous Cayan Tower. That puts you right in the midst of happening Dubai Marina, in a pad that boasts glorious views across the Persian Gulf and the golden urban beaches. Interiors are uber-contemporary – think designer furnishings throughout, bespoke artworks, and even a private plunge pool.
It’s no secret that Dubai isn’t the cheapest city in the world, and accommodation is often one of the biggest hits to the travel budget in these parts. However, Airbnb can offer some good reductions. First off, it’s possible to cut costs by opting for larger apartments or homes to share the total price of your stay with everyone you’re traveling with. On top of that, hosts sometimes give generous weekly or monthly discounts on their properties, while getting somewhere with self-catering means you won’t spend so much dining out.
One thing you will lose by choosing an Airbnb over a classic hotel is service. Airbnbs tend to prize privacy over pampering. So, if you’re keen to score a lobby lounge, on-site bars, daily housekeeping, and dedicated tour organisers, it’s probably better to pick an accommodation like the Gevora Hotel. It’s a stunning four-star establishment that also has the distinction of being the tallest hotel in the world!
Dubai is a blast of a city. Between shopping odysseys through the Mall of the Emirates and sunbathing on the glimmering beaches of The Palm, you’ll see the world’s tallest building and encounter age-old Arabian traditions.