Time For A Girls Trip

Thrifting and thriving twenties. We’re whoever we want to be in the City of Gold, Dubai!

Not your average stay

XVA Art Hotel

A traditional record of timeless fortune. A pure-hearted and wholesome getaway.

We were on a girls’ trip in our twenties!

One could say our immediate choice for Dubai would be the tallest hotel we could find, with endless bright lights, constant neon parties in flux, larger-than-life views from extraordinary heights.

We’ll maybe get to some of that…

Alas, My friend and I were grounded art folks, culture fans.

My nighttime ritual demanded grandad slippers, comfort wear, Arabian quietude. Retreat.

We wanted a multifaceted experience while in Dubai.

As a sensitive being, balance was key. We could leave and embark on the euphoria of the city: experience high, celebratory action, but return to ease and comfort: the best of both worlds!

The most picturesque, cultural spot we could find, weaved beautifully into the heart of the astounding oldest neighbourhood in Dubai: Al Fahidi – please visit here, you won’t regret it!

XVA Art Hotel felt true to an authentic Arabian experience; its traditional, rustic motifs were mesmerising. Sweetly situated on the grounds is the XVA art gallery, our go-to space for winding down.

Free massages were also available on-site, much to our relief after a 7-hour flight! You can bet we were straight to the spa once the bags were down in our tranquil, deluxe double room.

Highlight of our stay? Hearing the gentle birds singing in the morning from our window!

On the hotel site, we were more than pleased to discover a beautiful bustling souk with, may I add, the prettiest Starbucks in the world! It didn’t beat the ‘XVA Cafe’ standard of coffee but was perfect for getting creative with photography.

For a lovely lunch: MAKE art café hosts a haven for art-lovers with funky exhibitions and a nicely blended disposition of contemporary and historic, arabesque decor. I had a fantastic mocha – served with a cute bear print in the foam! - and a gorgeous acai bowl here. This place had a real community feel. We felt at ease in this creative, hidden gem of high vibes and happiness. The food is also veggie-friendly, a bonus! 40% off with our Zomato subscriptions? Even better!

Although we wanted to be phone-free while staying at this hotel, we couldn’t help but share pictures with our friends and family, not to mention phone home to report how amazing this special resort is. My mothering hen friend had to remind me of our Touristor data packages before my fingers hit the dial pad.

We booked the travellers life-saving premium ‘EssentialsDubai Touristor package to ensure that our holiday was healthy in terms of cost - we all know Dubai can be pretty pricey. Thankfully, we’re the savviest of students.

With this package, we struck gold & saved so much!

For someone who can mindlessly travel by feeling inclined to switch on the ol’ bank-breaking international 3G – let me tell you, the standard streaming ain’t free. With our 6 GB SIM available, 5G (upgrade!) AND international calling, it was humble bragging time.

A heart for heritage

The beautiful and hospitable Arabian Teahouse is a perfect spot for brunch. Here resides a nurturing teahouse nestled in graceful greenery.

It felt like we were in a veiled lost kingdom.

The Arabian Teahouse oozed the sensation of ‘welcome home’. Nostalgic in more ways than one.

Arabian specialities were plentiful; we gave thanks to the five-star service, sensing the food was made with delicate care. Translucent heavenly white lace curtains draped over our fine dining, wafting the mouth-watering aromas of the stunning Emirati cuisine we savoured.

Global Village

Woah,Global Village.

Had to pinch myself to check it wasn’t a dream. My reality was truly blessed. We had free admission! Thank you, Dubai Touristor.

We were kids in a cultural candy shop.

Cultural exchange through 32 giant stalls and pavilions representing more than 75 countries were visions to behold! This stunning village is a whole other glamourous universe celebrating diversity. No more awkward gaps in-between conversations to come with new international friends, we could study up on all of the fascinating details of what makes each culture especially unique on this remarkable planet.

Oh, and with the carnival on - rides!

Unlimited fun, excitement and adventure.

My friend was even tempted to take a whirl on some of the children’s rides -  California Highway was her first choice to be exact, for ‘a laugh’ - I have to admit, I was tempted to go on too. Although, I think her desire masked slight fear over the bigger ones, to be specific: the ferocious Global Burj.
I dragged her along, with care, we were braving them anyway. In Dubai, there’s no room for fear.

All the pavilions had so much to offer, including 23 restaurants and cafes all at our fingertips. Better yet for my street-food loving friend: 120 kiosks serving street delicacies from all over the world.

Dancing queens, we spent Friday night here to catch some international superstars on stage!

Not only were we spoiled with all this – but a galactic fireworks display to set the scene. We felt so grateful. Hugging and cheering, we were right where we needed to be.

Was it busy? Yes. Full of smiling faces. It's clear to see why.

This truly was an eclectic, highly memorable experience.

A breather beneath Bosnian House’s sweet serving canopy.

BRITS! Swap your standard night out kebab for its sophisticated, international cousin. We had to try Bosnian house’s highly rated traditional Bosnian cuisine while here.

The award-winning ‘Bosnian House’ was a winner’s spot for us. Why were we winners? Not only for devouring aromatic, delicious kebabs and pastries served on a golden platter under an illuminated, soft, warm-toned setting. We scored 40% off our meals with our Zomato subscriptions.

Amazing value for a truly rich experience.

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Oh, Marina! How lovely it is to visit.

An engrossing expedition to the Dubai Marina.

The endorphins of love.

As you could probably tell by now, we appreciate our natural resources. Water is one we truly adore.

As we strolled along the beautiful Dubai Marina, the Love Boats sprung their energetic arrows into our hearts. We had to try. We were close to the glorious sunset period; our timing was just right.

The deal this time was ‘kids go free’, when I say we tried, that is not a fib. My friend tried to pass as a kid again - I think you may have figured it didn’t really work.

Which is a shock to us, because we get ID’d for lottery tickets all the time. She’s sporting that much of a babyface that she was once ID’d for a 12 rated film... yep.

Paying full price didn’t matter in the end. We felt the love, as we immersed ourselves in gliding through glistening and giddy waves; waltzing into Marina’s current.

Smitten, we rocked to blooms of colour reflected from the romantic city sky onto its sun-kissed shores.

After all the butterflies, it all settled down. We meditated by the sights, supported by the angelic views of Dubai.

Our fantastic stops on this trip were the Marina Lagoons and Palm Jumeirah, where we admired the picturesque shore filled with avant-garde architecture marvels. Some of which are: the iconic Dubai Marina Yacht Club, the quirky Cayan Tower and the glamorous Princess Tower.

The scenes of this trip were so beautiful we wanted to paint them in stillness, freeze the moment for a little longer; our little bubble of bliss.

After taking a dip off the boat and capturing some amazing shots by the sunset, all was well.

We were content.

To toast: A miraculous

Dhow Cruise Dinner

Now newly friends with Marina; we were tempted to celebrate our newfound connection with yet another boat ride – this time, a cruise. We could smell the five-star buffet brewing onboard.

Buy one get one-half price was a great offer for this rather special voyage.

In glamourous preparation for our romantic stride along her chic bed of water, onboard a traditional yet magnificent wooden dhow – we were greeted to welcome drinks at the Dubai Marina Yacht club. Yes, we had just been on a boat trip not too long before, so why again you ask? Well, now we were dining. As foodies, we just had to.

I couldn’t stop staring at the wonderful dhow in anticipation of all the beauty to come. 90 minutes of bliss and reminiscing.

We got comfy, settled – as a beautiful Tanura show enhanced the ambience of ultimate luxury. Soon arrived what we’d been waiting for: a delicious, mouth-watering international buffet inclusive of unlimited soft drinks and various tantalising Arabic specialities- we couldn’t get enough of these! Veggie options for my friend, too – woohoo!

Everything soon lit up so beautifully in the nighttime - the soft timbre of the water below, accompanied by glimmers of colourful dazzling lights dancing on its surface.

The best view, however, was the spectacularly illuminated Dubai skyline, enriching our incredible journey as it softly smiled back at us.

What a night to remember.

Dubai Desert Safari

We saved the best for last. The mesmerizing Dubai Desert Safari. I went free this time all thanks to the buy one get one free deal in our Essentials package!

Here, we relished an immersive, and by immersive, I mean a full sensorial bathe in the wilderness.

Before settling into the spa-sensational beauty of this dreamscape, we had to go on a dune ride first! We’re not old after all, we were forever young: wildcards, surfing heights, slopes and depths of the desert dunes by vehicle – that open road, do or die adventurers. Thankfully, I didn’t die, although it felt like it as I clung to my friend feeling as if I was out of my body! Her payback I suppose, for my previous teasing of her fear of the Global Village rides. We’re in this together!

The best friendship bracelets in the world: we paid our respects to this beautiful culture by treating our hands to the angelic tip of a henna pen. Matching henna tattoos! A perfect polaroid shot for our holiday scrapbook.

We truly were in this together as after the ride, we settled into the entertainment on site and explored deeper versions of ourselves we never knew were there.

Dancers, mirroring the movement of gentle Arabian sandstorms sweeping into the rhythm, fired up after watching the Tanura show sure, we’d seen it before – but this time we could join in! Fantastically choreographed traditional belly dancers had us in awe, and poorly trying out the moves.

Confession time: I may have pulled a muscle on a belly roll. I suppose I’m not as much of a Shakira as I’d first thought.

Thankfully, after my friend stopped laughing, my stomach had healed enough in time for dinner – we felt ultra-feminine as we sat by the BBQ, praying over beautiful fiery dishes by a stunningly mystical campsite.

Our journey ended with gratitude. The desert is for the playful.  

We felt like the coolest duo in the world, styling our funkiest sunglasses as posed with shisha pipes between our fingers.

We adored the desert. The tangerine, shimmering sand; the bold sunset in crimson bloom, whispering secrets to the soft-spoken wildlife - all harmonious in spirit.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the magical desert of Dubai.