Atlantis, The Palm — Dubai
After staying in the Atlantis for a week I’ve been itching to write a review. Main question is, did it live up to the hype? Answer: Yes and no!
Firstly it’s a mammoth sized hotel so there’s a lot to cover. But I will start with the most important which is:
Given the Atlantis is on the furthest point on The Palm, it is far away from anything else which made us think half-board would be a good choice with three children.
When booking, it said there are eight restaurants included in the half board dinner option. Two of those are buffet restaurants Kaleidoscope and Saffron, a beach restaurant Nasimi Beach Restaurant, a cafe Platos and three are fast food joints The Burger Joint, Shwafel and Asia Republic. Not sure what the eighth one was!
The buffet restaurants are phenomenal without a doubt. The choice is over whelming and it’s very easy to over-eat and then regret it! The breakfast can’t really be faulted. Highlights for me were the halwa poori (Indo-pak) breakfast which was so good, fruit selection and Om Ali (like bread and butter pudding). Of course you had the Arabian breakfast choices, as well as Chinese, Indian and Continental.
For dinner as with all buffets, quality usually deteriorates because of the quantity that’s being churned out. Because of Chinese New Year the hotel seemed to be at full capacity (over 1000 rooms filled). You won’t go hungry that’s for sure. The buffets are good but we couldn’t do that every day. We ate at Nasimi Beach Restaurant which had really good food. The Nasimi burger was especially memorable as were the desserts.
I would recommend the Bed & Breakfast option, eat a few nights at the hotel and a few nights outside of Atlantis which is what we ended up doing. In fact a few of the days we were happy to miss the dinner as we were a bit fed up of the buffet!
Also drinks are not included in half-board!There are about eight other restaurants like Nobu and Bread Street Kitchen (Gordon Ramsey’s) which are not included in the half-board.
Rooms & Housekeeping
The standard ‘deluxe’ rooms are average size and are pretty dated. The decor is tired looking and frankly I expected better! The bathroom is of a good size and has everything you need. Except that instead of a douche (muslim shower) they have a bidet in the bathroom. This is the only toilet in Dubai I’ve seen like this!
The beds were really comfy which I was so pleased about. We couldn’t fault the housekeeping guy. It was the same guy for our entire stay and he did a good job giving us numerous bottles of water every day. We even got some cool towel art and fresh roses in the vase.
Guests at the Atlantis get free entry to the Aquaventure waterpark which are on the grounds of The Atlantis. This was one of the main reasons we chose to stay here. You’re given wristbands which means you can cut the queue to get in and walk straight through. And there are queues, at entry and for the rides. You aren’t supposed to take food but I had a few snacks and no one minded. There are bag checks before you enter though. You are allowed to take in water which you’d think is a given but in the past it wasn’t allowed! The prices for food and drink are high and it’s inevitable that kids will get hungry. Be prepared to buy overpriced food. You just gotta suck it up. The paratha stand proved very popular with my children.
The slides are really good fun, but the height restriction is 1.20m for most rides. So, my little one could only go on two rides! Luckily for her the children’s water play area and the Lazy River (not so lazy) were incredible so we spent a fair bit of time here. The lazy river encompasses the Rapids ride and has a torrent river — such fun! It’s a shame she didn’t get to go on Shark Attack, which is the ride that goes through a tunnel in the aquarium. My other two children said it wasn’t scary so they didn’t know why it had a 1.2 m restriction, probably to do with weight. The two family rides that she could go on were the ones we went on the most. They were really thrilling and super fun. My two favourite rides were Zoomerango (Family ride) and Poseidon’s Revenge which is a capsule ride. We spent three days at the park, and went on the lazy river umpteen times. It’s the best! We found the queues were long because it was the half-term holidays. Expect waits of 30-50 mins in peak times. It was also difficult to find sun loungers on certain days too as it was that busy.
Stupidly I only went to the spa once (on our last day!) and really regretted not going before. The spa has a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi (free for club room guests) plus a whole load of treatments. Shui Qi spa is one of the most beautiful spas I have ever visited. The service, decor and the actual treatment – ESPA body wrap (565 AED) and a Swedish massage (500AED) were incredible. Club room guests also get one ‘buy one get one free’ on some treatments which is why I had two! Ladies and Gents spa areas are completely separate, I just wish I made a view more visits.
There’s a whole heap of Aquarium related activities on offer at the Atlantis.
Dolphin Encounter — 575 AED p/p
Now given that Atlantis is one of the few places that offers ‘swimming with dolphins’ we decided to let my 5-year-old meet a dolphin. She couldn’t do it alone so we had to also buy an adult ticket. Dolphins aren’t my thing so I was happy to let my husband try this one. Needless to say they both loved it and bought photos which are a great memory.
Atlantis Aquatrek — 295 AED
My son (aged 11) was not too impressed with dolphins so wanted to do something underwater in the main aquarium tank that the Atlantis is built around. We decided on Aquatrek which is a bit like scuba diving but you wear this huge helmet. The weight of the helmet pulls you down as well as the oxygen tank on your back, and you walk on a floor 4 metres deep into the aquarium that has been created for this experience. The experience was breath-taking and easier than diving as your face is dry throughout. We were amongst sting rays, baby sharks and all kinds of fish. My son loved it and so did I. Totally recommend this one!
Zip Line — 100 AED
This is available in AquaVenture, and one ticket enables you to go unlimited on the four zip lines they have. My 9-year-old chose to do this as dolphins and aquatrek didn’t appeal to her. One of the zip lines has a view of the beach so it’s located really well. She went on eight times so she got her money’s worth!
Lost Chambers Aquariam
Entrance to see the aquarium is free for Atlantis guests. It takes about 45 mins to see all of the fish but you can spend a lot longer if you’re keen. The best things here were the sea nettles, totally mesmerising.
There are two massive pools at The Atlantis which are clean and safe for children of all ages. There were many lifeguards everywhere which was really reassuring. Getting sun loungers at the hotel pools wasn’t a problem.
We had a really great time at the Atlantis but I probably wouldn’t stay there again. Being a family of five, booking two rooms is always costly but at the Atlantis it felt like a lot. I also felt like they were constantly trying to fleece us by charging for everything. During the experiences and in the lazy river there are photographers annoying you all the time and taking photos and scanning your wristband, so that you can buy photos later. At check out they charged us extra for a breakfast and another whole meal but were happy to take it off the bill without querying.
We were there over Chinese New Year so The Atlantis stuck on a supplement of 180AED (£35) per person for dining at Saffron which is their South East Asian buffet. This was cheeky of them as Saffron is always included in half-board.
Charging for drinks was annoying, but we were aware of that particular cost. We had one club room which gave us access to the club lounge and a few freebies. Totally not worth it as they only let 3 of us in so it wasn’t particularly useful.
Finally as it was half term and Chinese New Year, booking for the buffet restaurant was essential. The one night we didn’t the queues were coming out into the foyer. I’ve never seen that at any buffet restaurant! It’s a busy hotel with little personal service. As well as this there are hundreds of people around the hotel that aren’t staying there. Although security is tight, it’s just too much of a busy hotel. I definitely prefer quieter places.
All food is halal except for the corner in the Saffron buffet that says ‘Contains pork’. Alcohol is available at all the restaurants.
Atlantis is about 40 mins from the Dubai International Airport.
Cost varies depending on when you go and type of room. Look out for deals on the Atlantis website, but be warned the website adds a HUGE amount of tax at the end just before checkout. Lots of travel agents do deals all time so keep a lookout for those.