Where to Eat, Drink and Shop in Dubai

The Global Holidays Travel TV Presenter, Becky Hayes has just returned from a holiday to Dubai and here she gives us the inside information on where to eat, drink and shop in Dubai.

Dubai is full of amazing restaurants, cool bars and shopping malls galore. As a true Dubai convert  I’ve eaten till I’ve had to unbutton my jeans, drunk till I’ve had to be carried home and shopped till I’ve dropped.

Here are my tips for the best that Dubai has to offer:

Best Bars:

Bar 360 – This circular bar is in the middle of the Arabian Sea and is reached by a walkway that curves around the marina. The views are unrivalled! From here you can see most of the amazing buildings in Dubai, the Burj al Arab, the Burj Kalifa, the Jumeirah Wave hotel and Atlantis on the Palm which all light up at night. They do great cocktails and sheesha and a bonus; you get a nice breeze! Most nights they have international DJ’s on playing funky house.

Koubba – This chilled out cocktail bar is in the Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel. They do a fantastic raspberry martini and they top up your sheesha until you are smoked out. It was great views of the fabulous Burj Hotel and of the rivers that run through the hotel grounds. They often have live bands on too.

Tamanya Terrace – This open rooftop bar is in the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Media City. If you’re after DJ’s, a party vibe and amazing views over Dubai city then this is the place for you. On a Thursday night they have a pink party where ladies get in free and get a free cocktail.

Best Restaurants:

PierChic – If you’re looking to splash out on a romantic meal whilst on holiday then this is the place to do it. Perched on a wooden pier overlooking the Al Qasr Hotel and the Arabian Gulf, you are guaranteed views of the Burj al Arab and the Wave hotel. Softly lit with fantastic seafood,  it has also won Time Out Dubai’s most romantic restaurant award and best seafood restaurant award. You have to try the lobster; it’s out of this world!

Atmosphere – This is the highest restaurant in the world! A must whilst you’re in Dubai. Everybody is talking about this newly opened restaurant at the moment, it’s pricey but worth it. It sits on the 122nd floor of the Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building and overlooks the world’s tallest performing fountains.

Shimmers – If you’re looking for a great location without the price tag then this relaxed restaurant on the beach is a definite contender. With a varied menu from pizza to steak, from lobster to calamari you will struggle to choose what to eat! Set at one end of the Mina Al Salam beach, Shimmers is like a deluxe beach shack with wooden floor, heavy furniture, a slatted roof and no walls. And with the Arabian Gulf on one side of you and a perfect view of the Burj on another, it’s an absolutely charming spot.

Best Shopping:

Dubai Mall – The Duba Mall is… yes you guessed it………the largest shopping mall in the world with over 1,200 shops. It comes complete with an aquarium, underwater zoo and an indoor ice rink. From chic designer shops like Dior and Rolex to high street shops like H&M and GAP, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for here! My tip would be to head to Candylicious, a huge sweet shop and try the caramel cashew garret popcorn….you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!

Karama – If you’re after cheap lookalike designer stuff, then the place to go is Karama. It’s full of little shops and stalls that are packed full of bags, watches, clothes, shoes, wallets, purses and jewellery. My favourite shop is called Green Eye. It looks tiny from the outside but has lots of hidden rooms. I always find some bits to bring home from here. Bartering is the name of the game, so don’t be afraid to give it a good go! I would go in with a price that you’re happy to pay and stick with it.

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A Cruise on the Backwaters of Kerala

Global Holidays has been to Kerala in India to see for itself what it is like to cruise on the famous Kerala Backwaters. We were staying in the holiday resort of Kovalam which is on the southern tip of India. Kerala, or Gods Own Country, as the locals like to call their Indian State is a lush green paradise, and some parts of Kerala are criss-crossed by inland rivers, lakes and canals that make up the so called Kerala Backwaters. The boats were originally used to transport rice and other goods; over the years the industry declined but in recent years they have been refurbished as houseboats and improved the tourism and economy of the area. The boats retain the traditional local style mainly made of wood and coir without a single nail being used.

These inland waterways have become a “must see” holiday attraction in Kerala, and it is possible to take a cruise on your very own house boat either for the day or to stay overnight. When we first saw the network of rivers’ lakes and canals, we were stunned by their size. This area is nothing like the Norfolk Broads, well maybe it is, but it is on a much bigger scale.

We had a driver who drove us in a comfortable air-conditioned 4 wheel drive vehicle on a hair raising 4 hour drive to the town of Alleppy where many of the houseboats start their backwater cruises. There were just the two of us and we had our own crew of three to look after us. There was the captain, our own cook and another crew member. We were served all our meals under cover on deck and meals were served on large coconut leaves instead of plates. Our cook managed to serve us some fabulous freshly made curries from fish caught minutes before which we ate as we sailed along watching the incredible scenery.

Our houseboat had just one bedroom with an ensuite bathroom which was quite basic but this was part of the charm and adventure. It is very relaxing as you chug along. Many people live on the banks of the rivers and we saw them bathing and washing clothes in the river. We threw packs of colouring pencils to small children as we sailed past; we had heard it is tradition to do this so we went prepared. The children certainly appreciated them and ran alongside our boat waving and thanking us.

The scenery was absolutely stunning and varied from narrow canals where we could see into peoples houses to wide open lakes. It was very peaceful and relaxing and gave the feeling of stepping back in time. We tied up alongside a bank in the evening and ate our evening meal with some cold beer watching the sunset. Our room had air conditioning, a double bed and a basic bathroom with shower. We slept well, lulled by the sound of the water outside. In the morning, we awoke to coffee and breakfast and watched the local children, smart in their uniforms, going off to school on the river bus. We travelled further along the Backwaters and returned to our starting point where our uniformed chauffeur drove us back in style to our hotel, the Leela Palace in Kovalam.

These are some of the photos that we took as we sailed the Kerala Backwaters. We hope that you enjoy them. Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450 if you are interested in a holiday to Kerela.

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Bangkok – Holiday Review Video

Hangover 2 has just been released and the movie is getting mixed  reviews. The first movie saw Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug have their bachelor party in Las Vegas whilst the latest Hangover movie see the boys head out to exotic Bangkok, the capital of Thailand for Stu’s wedding. The brides younger brother tags along to the stag party and then disappears and then the hunt is on to find him. The sequel doesn’t quite live up to the original but there are some laughs along the way.

This brings us on to the fascinating city of Bangkok where Hangover 2 was filmed and the city has always been a fashionable holiday stop for backpackers and the rest of us alike. Bangkok is great for a short stopover tied in with a beach holiday like Phuket or Krabi. Bangkok is a bustling city of 10 million people.

We sent Global Holidays Travel TV presenter Becky Hayes to Bangkok to visit all the best tourist spots in Bangkok. Watch the video !

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUrzxSvPAMM?rel=0&w=640&h=390]

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Gaucho Steakhouse Leeds Restaurant Review

We don’t usually feature restaurant reviews on our website but we thought we would feature the Gaucho Steakhouse in Leeds because of its exceptional service and top quality food.

The writer of this travel blog (and lover of steak) was treated to a visit to the Gaucho Argentine Steakhouse last night. The restaurant has an unassuming entrance. In fact you wouldn’t know it was there if you just walked past. There are a few steps down from the street to the entrance, which is on Park Row in Leeds. I was just about to push open the entrance door when one of the Gaucho staff opened it for me. She must have seen us walking down the steps and she greeted us with a nice welcoming smile, checked our reservation and showed us to our table.

The restaurant is very smart with an upmarket feel. Our table was a reasonable size and all the chairs are covered in black and white cow hide, which sets the scene as, of course, this restaurant serves steak! In fact Gaucho serves very good steaks and the menu gives you a large choice of different cuts of beef and of various sizes. Gaucho has a novel way of helping you decide which steak to have as a waiter brings to your table a large wooden slab with four different types of beef. There was a choice of rib eye, sirloin, rump and fillet and the waiter explained where each piece of beef came from and how best to have it cooked. I thought that was excellent and something that I haven’t seen in any other restaurant.

I chose a medium cooked 400g rib eye (£25.25)  and my friend went for a Tira De Ancho (£31.95) which is a spiral cut and probably suitable for 2 people. The menu said that my friends steak would take 25 minutes to cook but in fact we were only waiting maybe 10 minutes. We also chose a bottle of Luigi Bosca Malbec red wine at £34.

Throughout our meal the service was attentive, the waitresses and waiters smartly dressed and they were very chatty. It was obvious that they enjoyed their jobs and that they wanted everything to be to our liking.

Overall I would rate the Gaucho steakhouse in Leeds as excellent. Gaucho is mostly about beef steak but I did notice that they also served chicken and lamb. The only negative I could say was that it was quite dark in the restaurant which is OK but I struggled to read the menu in the gloom!

Overall, Gaucho Leeds offers a good steak experience and I would go again.

Gaucho Leeds is at 21-22 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JF. Telephone 0113 246 1777

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Monarch Airlines Drops Debit Card Charges

One of our biggest annoyances is the way some budget airlines make extra charges for it seems almost anything they can think of. The reason, of course, is because they want  to advertise a cheaper fare than what the real fare really is. There is nothing worse than seeing a price for a flight advertised and then when you get to the final costings screen you notice that the price is a lot higher than you thought.

There is good news from Monarch Airlines, however, as they are to drop debit card charges completely and also introduce a flat credit card fee of £10. Other airlines hopefully will follow suit as some are abusing this charge and using it as an excuse to add on extra charges that have no resemblance to the cost to the airline of the charges they pay for credit card transactions.

Global Holidays, as an honest and upfront travel agency, has never charged a debit card fee for its cheap flights or holidays even though there is a cost to us made by the banks. We believe that this is the way it should be. The price you see should be the price you pay!

Monarch Airlines has also introduced an option on their flights to upgrade to extra legroom seats at a cost of only £9.99 on short haul flights which we think is excellent value for money.

If you are looking for a cheap flight please call 0845 299 4450

Click for more articles about cheap flights

Living in Norway, Sweden or Denmark and want a cheap holiday?

If you live in Norway, Sweden or Denmark and you are looking for a cheap holiday then you will probably save money by flying from the UK. Most holiday flights depart from London Gatwick or Manchester and with cheap flights from Norway to the UK it is worth flying to the UK to start your holiday.

The UK has many tour operators who fly to all the major holiday destinations including Mexico, Dominican Republic, the Caribbean as well, of course, all the holiday destinations in Europe including Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey.

If you live outside the UK and you book a holiday from Gatwick or Manchester then you will need to carefully check your departure and arrival flight times as you may need to fly into the UK the day before and fly back home the day after you arrive back into the UK. There are plenty of airport hotels at all UK airports which provide low cost hotel accommodation which is very useful if you have an early morning flight.

We have been told by many people who live in countries such as Norway, Sweden or Denmark that they save a considerable amount of money by booking with a UK travel agent, even after adding the cost of return flights back to their country.

If you want a quote for a holdiay and you live in Norway, Sweden or Denmark please call us  on 00 44 113 2582222 and Global Holidays will provide a quote for you.

Todays Travel News

The Volcanic Ash Cloud

Good news for travellers today as the volcano in Iceland is reported to have stopped erupting and also the wind direction has changed which should mean good volcanic ash free skys. Flights from most airports are reported to be operating normally but as ever, our advice is to check with your travel agent, airline or tour operator.

Visitors to Orlando reach a record high

The number of visitors to Orlando in Florida in 2010 reached a record 50 million up from 46 million in 2009. The record number of visitors shows that the US sunshine state and the home of theme parks including Disney shows no signs of losing its popularity.

Want a holiday to Florida ? Call us on 0845 299 4450

Global Holidays launches new Video

Global Holidays is the place for expert holiday advice and great holiday deals. We offer friendly helpful advice and will go the extra mile to find you the right holiday and at the lowest price.

Check out the latest video from Global Holidays below !

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQdzLKck9-w?rel=0&w=480&h=390]

Dreamticket.com ceases trading – Re-book Here

Dreamticket, the online travel agency specialising in holidays to The Maldives and holidays to Dubai has ceased trading today. The company had an ATOL so any customers booked with Dreamticket should be entitled to a refund. Any customers who have booked but not yet travelled with Dreamticket will need to book again and claim back their deposits from the CAA under the ATOL scheme. Failures like this demonstrate the importance of booking with a travel agent that offers ATOL financial protection as in the event of failure of the tour operator customers are entitled to a full refund under the government backed ATOL scheme.

Travel agents do not normally need an ATOL themselves as they are retail agents for ATOL holders if they sell package holidays.

If you have a booking with Dreamticket and you want to book your holiday again please call Global Holidays on 0113 2582222.

Cornwall Holiday versus Majorca Holiday

As many Brits try to decide whether to take a holiday abroad this year or stay in this country for their annual summer holiday we decided to compare the costs of taking a two week holiday in Cornwall against a two weeks self catering holiday on Majorca.

A holiday cottage in Newquay

We looked at the cost of staying two weeks in a medium grade holiday cottage for 2 adults and 2 children. We chose a nice looking cottage in a good location close to the beach in Newquay, Corwall. We picked the date of 30 Julywhich is after the start of the school holidays. The total cost for 2 weeks was £1882.00. If this family had to travel from Leeds in West Yorkshire to Newquay the journey would be 365 miles taking just over 6 hours and costing £70 in petrol costs.

There are plenty of activities to do for a family in Cornwall but if the weather is bad then the family will have to consider finding somewhere to go to keep everyone occupied and happy. If the family spend a day at the Eden Project the that will cost £20 per adult and £7.50 per child making a total entry cost for the family of £55.

We looked at the cost of eating out in a typical restaurant in Newquay. The Cornish Steaks and Fish Restaurant has a nice looking menu. If 4 people were to have a starter and bangers and mash then the cost would be about £60 plus the cost of drinks. We won’t include the cost of buying food in our comparison as the family would need to buy food at home but if the family ate out say 4 times during their holiday you would be looking at a total cost of £240 plus the cost of drinks

The total cost of a holiday in Cornwall

Adding together the costs of the holiday cottage, petrol, a day out at the Eden Project and 4 meals out the total cost would be approximately £2317.00 for the family of 4 people.

Self catering apartment in Santa Ponsa, Majorca

We picked a 3 star apartment complex in the popular resort of Santa Ponsa, Majorca departing from Leeds/Bradford airport for 2 weeks from 29 July. We picked at random the Holiday Centre Apartments in Santa Ponsa, which is a 3 star complex, and only a short walk from a long stretch of sandy beach. The cost of flights, accommodation and transfers came to £2175.00.

The cost of eating out in Majorca is very similar to eating out in the UK so 4 meals at £60 a time comes to £240.

There is plenty to do on the beautiful island of Majorca. As well as guaranteed sunshine you could spend a day at one of several waterpark. Aqualand in El Arenal will cost a family of 4 about £65 in entrance fees.

Total cost of a holiday on Majorca

Adding together the package holiday to Santa Ponsa at £2175, a day out at Aqualand costing £65 and the cost of 4 meals out at £240, the total cost of a holiday to Majorca comes in at £2480.00.

Conclusion

In our holiday price comparison the cost of a holiday to Majorca was £163 more expensive than a holiday to Newquay in Cornwall. In our opinion you are likely to have better weather in Majorca which means that you will be able to spend more time as a family on the beach or outside by the swimming pool, therefore saving money on entrance fees for attractions. The holiday cottage in Newquay will offer more privacy but the apartment in Santa Ponsa has a swimming pool and activities for children. This price comparison shows that there is little difference bewteen the cost of a holiday in Cornwall compared to the cost of a holiday in Majorca. What you have to decide is ….. which holiday destination will you enjoy the most ?

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Holidays to Dubai buck Middle East Trend

The number of passengers passing through an airport gives you a good idea where people are visiting and which holiday destinations are increasing in popularity. If the last two years of trends continue then it is possible that Dubai International Airport will be the worlds busiest by 2015. Whilst other Middle East holiday destinations such as Egypt have suffered a drop in visitors due to political problems holidays to Dubai are booming. Visitors to Dubai increased by 7.2% in 2010 and so far in 2011 hotel occupancy rates have been 85%.

The first few months of the year are the peak season for holidays to Dubai and occupancy rates drop during the hot summer season. Temperatures in August average at 42C and with Ramadan occurring in August it is the month when there are good holidays prices to be had.

The Kids Go Free in Dubai campaign has also just launched which it is hoped will boost the family market over the summer.

The promotion covers the period of May 15 to September 30 and includes up to 50% off airfares with Emirates Airline, free stays and dining at 80 participating hotels for children under 12, free access to attractions, such as Dubai Ice Rink and Wild Wadi Water Park and free airport transfers.

There are some great holiday deals to be had for Dubai. For example if you can travel in June you can have 5 nights at the IBN Battuta Gate Hotel where prices start at only £559 per person. The price includes return flights, Bed & Breakfast and Return flights as well as  access to Oceana Beach Club on The Palm with private beach & pool.

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