Search results for:


    What to wear as a woman travelling in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha

    When we tripped to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, what to wear in the Middle East was the aspect I probably researched the most. I’m no fashion plate, but as a female travelling into a conservative country that has quite strong views on what is acceptable to wear, I fretted about what was suitable to throw into my suitcase.

    What to wear in Qatar as a female traveller Adventures of a London Kiwi

    ‘What do I wear to the Middle East’ is something I get asked a lot – and I’ve been meaning to write this post for an age. Normally I roll with smart, comfortable and lightweight layers with a couple of nice dresses stashed for the evenings – but I also packed for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha with a fair amount of care to include long sleeves and cover-ups. (Our eventual destination of New Zealand each time was easy to additionally pack for – bare feet, floaty beach skirts and a single woollen Christmas Jumper for the amusement of my family enjoying 30’C summer heat.)

    Read more


    Dubai and Abu Dhabi – 10 experiences you must have!

    Since we’ve been to Dubai, almost every person I’ve met who asked me about our trip tips their head slightly and says “huh, I’ve never thought of going there. Not for any particular reason it just didn’t appeal”. We were honestly the same, but after a few transits through the airport on the way to New Zealand, and spotting a full-size camel in amongst the duty free shelves of perfume my curiosity was piqued (a fake camel that is!).

    (Sidenote: this breaking up of travel posts over a series of weekends makes it feel like they’ll never end, but has certainly brought some winter sun reminiscing to my dreary January/February/March.)

    10 experiences you have to have in Dubai & Abu Dhabi Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We enjoyed our tourist version of the two UAE city states we visited, much to our surprise. Dubai seems to be very much a love it or hate it destination – and having gone without any expectations in the middle of the UAE winter, we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, we loved it.

    People tend to dress conservatively – shoulders, chests and knees covered – but you’ll see tourists in the malls getting gawked
    at cause they’re in hot pants… but you can wear whatever you want in
    your hotel and poolside. If you go into the mosque cover from head to toe
    (at the Abu Dhabi mosque you will be lent a black hooded dress in
    exchange for holding your drivers license.)

    Based on personal recommendations, research and the limited time we had in Dubai, there are a few experiences that I have been recommending to every one of my friends who have been since…

    1/ Go up the Burj Khalifa

    It is the tallest building in the world – you can either book ahead & pay just to go to the viewing deck or for around the same spend you can reserve a table in the Atmosphere cocktail lounge a floor below (where there is a minimum spend of £50ish per person for a 2 hour table.) We went at sunset and it was GLORIOUS (make sure you book at least 2 days ahead.)

      Dubai Must do Burj Khalifa worlds tallest building


    2/ Meander through the Dubai Mall 

    Admire the two waterfalls, the plethora of international shops and linger in one of the best people watching spots we have ever been in. (We also ate
    burgers for dinner from New Zealand – this may have been one of my intentions even
    before entering the country, and I’m not ashamed).

    3/ Watch the Dubai Mall fountains dance 

    You can see it for free from the mall but we found the less busy view was from the Armani hotel (at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa) with a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – the hotel plays the music the fountains are choreographed to in the hotel bar.

    What to do in Dubai Mall Fountains

    4/ Venture into the sand dunes. 

    I wrote about our overnight in the Dubai desert in a Sheikh’s summer home/desert conserve (we went in luxury with Platinum Heritage who had offered us a media rate and we loved & would have paid full price for) but if short on time there are dinner experiences where you will be collected from your hotel & driven to and from the desert. 

    Overnight in the Dubai Desert like a Bedouin

    5/ Explore Dubai with an expat guide. 

    We did a day tour with Barti – he took us on a private highlights tour of Dubai which was fascinating. He took us through the history of the sandy city, shared his experiences of Dubai changing over the last 15 years and shared a few special gems with us (including a cute shop where we bought a Christmas Tree decoration, ironic I know). 

    City Guide Dubai essentials

    6/ Cross the infamous Dubai Creek in a water taxi.

    City Guide Dubai essentials Dubai Creek water taxi

    7/ Barter in the spice and gold souks. 

    Try camel milk chocolate if you’re brave enough it is really rich.

    City Guide Dubai essentials Gold Souks

    City Guide Dubai essentials

    8/ Take in a Friday Brunch 

    They are rather legendary and sadly the only experience we missed due to time constraints (aka. spending too much time in the rooftop hotel pool).

    9/ Day trip to Abu Dhabi 

    It’s about an hour & a half drive from Dubai the taxi we caught cost about £40 each way or there are organised day trips from Dubai. Whilst there, definitely have a sandwich & coffee (or afternoon tea) at the Jumeirah @ Emirates Towers. You pay to enter, but the entry fee is redeemable against food purchased in the restaurant.

    Abu Dhabi city guide UAE must do

    10/ Visit the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

    ABSOLUTE MUST DO. The mosque also runs free tours & the sunset one we took was utterly breathtaking.

    Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque city guide UAE must do

    So, convinced yet?

    << Pin for Later >>

    City guide to Dubai and Abu Dhabi


    A night in Dubai desert luxury

    Nestled on a cocoon of cushions, one hand tucked under my head, the other idly running cool sand through my fingers, the camp settled down. Lights blinked off one by one, leaving only the soft crackle of the fire.

    Our hosts for the night quietly left the Bedouin camp, one or two slipping into in a nearby tent for company, leaving us to the silence of the desert. The quiet deepened* as our camp mates drifted off to sleep and the stars began to shimmer.

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    Snuggling further into my scarf my eyes began to adjust to the glorious canopy overhead. Billions of stars, some shining with fervour, others more shy and quietly glimmering. The few constellations I know began to appear (and the itch to retrieve my slowly flattening phone and download a stargazing app strengthened despite a lack of electrical sockets and wifi connectivity) and the silence grew further.

    I simply lay there and fell into an almost meditative trance. The feel of a light breeze whispering across my face became something I wanted to treasure forever, the hard romance of an unforgiving clime so different from my own green island home.

    What to do in Dubai - A luxury desert safari

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    As the cool began to dew on my skin I knew that I could either dash into our tent and fish a duvet from our bed to sleep under the stars, or simply clamber into the warmer bed where my sleepy husband giggled at my stargazing antics.

     What to do in Dubai desert safari

    Our humble boudoir lit with a torch was swathed in richly decorated tapestry walls, thick carpets and a scattering of sand brought in with our shoes. Slipping into fleecy pyjamas more often seen on our London couch, I sensibly wriggled into bed, but not before setting a pre-dawn alarm clock.

     What to do in Dubai desert safari

    We seemed to wake 3 minutes afterwards (in reality we had managed 5 hours of sleep) and shrugged on fleeces and shoes before grabbing water bottles and staggering out of the camp, and up a few nearby dunes in the dusky light.

    I can’t tell you in words how beautiful that sunrise was. Deep indigo turned slowly to inky blue, soft lavender, russet red. Then, as the sun began to peek over the horizon intense ochres turned to soft peaches and rich yellows.

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    Sometimes the simplest things in the world just remind you how insignificant many of our day to day niggles are. And this was one of them.

    We looked back over our camp as the skies became pastel. The other couple staying in the camp had peeked out from their covers by now, and were standing quietly on an adjacent dune. The smell of coffee and breakfast wafted slowly over interrupting our adoration of the horizon.

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    And the day was only just beginning…

    What to do in Dubai desert safari

    Nearly everyone I spoke to about going to Dubai insisted that we take in a desert activity or two, and I am so very glad we did.

    What to do in Dubai - A luxury desert safari

    *Always wanted a situation I could genuinely use that phrase


    Dubai – where desert sands reflect onto skyscraper silhouettes

    Dubai, the up & coming city-state in a constant state of engineering flux, where petrol is so cheap locals barely bother to walk, where the Uber options include helicopters and the desert sands reflect onto towering skyscraper silhouettes.

    I have to be completely honest insofar as for a variety of silly reasons Dubai never popped up on our wanderlust lists. If it wasn’t for several transits on our way to New Zealand, my European history adoring self wouldn’t have found my interest piqued, and my America adoring husband may not have considered it, preferring a Los Angeles visit instead.

    What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This was dumb.

    What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We didn’t really have many expectations, and apart from a touch of research on Pinterest (and a few Twitter recommendations –
    check out My Custard Pie and FoodieDiaries who are veritable fountains of knowledge) we entered the country hoping to have a drink in the worlds tallest building, pop out to the desert dunes and skip over to nearby Abu Dhabi for a night to catch up with friends and family living expat life. Anything else was a bonus.

    What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    All I knew from friends (and my dentist of all people – I am paying that man far too much) is that Dubai has emerged as a hotspot for luxury, shopping and decadence, so as a bonus 5-day stop on the way home from our New Zealand Christmas this year, we thought it would be an interesting way to ease ourselves over jetlag and enjoy a last touch of sunshine before returning to London rain.

    What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Spoiler: we rather enjoyed it (especially Mr Kiwi to my utter surprise).

    We stayed in a nice hotel close-ish to the airport, enjoyed a touch of the suite life, managed a few laps in the pool and explored as much as we could fit in.

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We wandered through the enormous Dubai Mall – so big it has two waterfalls, discovered a few secrets and a lot of history on a private tour, enjoyed an evening in the desert, became entranced by dancing fountains, pottered through the souks and managed to get the only cab driver in the United Emirates to miss the world’s tallest building.

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But those are stories for another telling…

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I feel like we’ve ‘done’ Dubai now, though I would love to spend a little more time in Abu Dhabi (an overnight trip wasn’t enough), pop into Doha and would love to visit Oman – I hear that it’s like Narnia. One thing is clear about Dubai is that money runs this city – but with a playful side that intrigued me.

    Must do Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Is Dubai on your wanderlust list?


    The Best 12 Christmas Trees in London | 2019 Edit

    I’m not quite ready to leave behind Christmas, the [self-proclaimed] most wonderful time of the year. So I’ve decided I’m not going to, and share my favourite 12 Christmas trees in London instead. Most of these will be up until the New Year, if not the 12th Day of Christmas, which is technically Sunday the 5th January. Disclaimer: For some reason every single one of my photos seems to be blurry. I don’t know why. I blame the mince pies indulgence…

    Christmas Trees of London 2019

    Liberty London | Award for most worthy of a talking caterpillar

    The Liberty Tree was almost my favourite of the festive season – with a distinct Alice in Wonderland 

    Read more