Ten of Dubai's best family-friendly hotels, with water slides, pony rides and theme parks

From an all-inclusive getaway to a beachfront escape, these properties come highly recommended when travelling with children

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With a long weekend for the UAE’s 51st National Day around the corner, the school term coming to an end and the festive holidays almost here, a change of scenery may be in order. If so, why not pack the family up and head to Dubai, recently named the most-viewed travel destination on TikTok — and a city that's heaving with things to see and do.

For those travelling with children, the city has a plethora of places to stay that are packed with family-friendly facilities.

For a getaway where children come first and where there’s no chance that youngsters will ever get bored, these top 10 family-friendly hotels in Dubai have you covered.

1. Endless fun at Atlantis, The Palm

While its sister hotel The Royal Atlantis has been making all the headlines of late, the pink-toned, ocean-themed Atlantis, The Palm remains one of Dubai's best-known landmarks, as well as one of its top family destinations.

With more than 1,500 rooms in total, almost all of which have interconnecting doors, plus numerous places to eat — including one overlooking the aquarium and another with its own bowling alley — this stalwart resort is all about family fun.

Guests have complimentary access to Aquaventure — Dubai’s 17-hectare water park where there are rapids, pools, lazy rivers and slides — as well as the longest zip line in the Middle East. Guests can also visit The Lost Chambers Aquarium, home to the Ambassadors Lagoon and 65,000 marine animals, Dolphin Bay and Sea Lion Point.

Atlantis Explorers Club is the only children's club in the world that has an underwater observation and activity room, as well as a busy schedule of activities and games. There is also a little pirates playground, complete with ropes, tunnels and slides, and The Zone, an adult-free hangout space designed for youngsters up to age 17.

Children can also get up close and personal with some of Atlantis’s marine life through the hotel’s youth programme run by specialists to help children learn more about the underwater world.

Stays from Dh1,180, including taxes; www.atlantis.com

2. Children come first at Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai

Located at Deira Islands, the Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai is the first property in the UAE from Centara Hotels & Resorts, one of Thailand’s leading hotel groups and a brand that's known for its family-friendly offerings.

The “family-themed” hotel has plenty on offer to keep the whole family entertained, and up to two children stay and eat free on each reservation. Travellers can take their pick from a variety of rooms, with interconnecting doors, bunk beds and larger two-bedroom suites available.

As well as having its own water park complete with a beachfront swimming pool, waterslides, rock jumping points and a meandering lazy river, the hotel also has an outdoor playground, an aerial obstacle course and a candy-themed spa that’s only for youngsters. There are also three age-specific children’s clubs, with one dedicated to teenagers.

Inspired by mythical Thai and Arabian adventures, expect brightly painted elephants, murals and decor throughout the hotel, including in the colourful Mirage Family Lounge where bean bags, games and refreshments await the whole family.

Stays from Dh499, excluding taxes; www.centarahotelsresorts.com

3. A brick-tastic getaway at Legoland Hotel

The Middle East’s first Legoland Hotel in Dubai is one place where children definitely come first.

The 250-room hotel at Dubai’s Parks & Resorts doesn’t take its role lightly — it's hyper-themed with everything from the elevators to the bathrooms plastered in Lego-themed decor. Standard rooms sleep up to five guests, with a separate bunk bed-filled space for children to call their own and youngsters will love the treasure hunt game that awaits them every time they check in.

Breakfast at Bricks Family Restaurant is included as standard and there are plenty of child-friendly dishes served with a buffet cleverly designed at children's height. A castle-themed play area, Lego-making workshops and a huge temperature-controlled swimming pool, complete with Lego brick floating toys, promise a stay here will be a winner.

Even better, guests checking in to Legoland Hotel can enjoy complimentary access to the brick-themed park, just a few steps away.

Stays from Dh910, excluding taxes; www.legoland.com

4. An all-inclusive family escape at Hotel Riu Dubai

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, December 10 – View of the RIU hotel on Deira Island in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Lifestyle/Online/Instagram. Story by Kelly

There’s something lovely about staying all-inclusive when travelling with children. Not having to say no when they request another ice cream or cold drink — for financial reasons, at least — can make a hotel stay much less stressful and Hotel Riu Dubai is the city’s first 24-hour, all-inclusive property.

That means that at any time, day or night, there will be a least one venue open at the Deira Islands hotel and serving all-inclusive food, snacks and drinks — handy if you arrive in the middle of the night with a hungry toddler in tow.

The 800-room, four-star hotel has three swimming pools and a separate children’s pool, plus Splash Water World water park, complete with colourful water slides and rides.

RiuLand kids' club organises an action-packed schedule of activities every day and there’s also a children’s playground and a private beach offering a variety of water sports.

Rooms all have at least one king-size bed or two small double beds, and a sofa in the lounge area. There's also the option to book either a “dry all-inclusive” package or the standard all-inclusive rate, including house beverages.

Rooms from Dh463, excluding taxes; www.riu.com

5. JA The Resort — Dubai’s biggest family-friendly hideaway

The JA The Resort in Jebel Ali is not only Dubai’s largest resort, it’s also one of its most family-friendly. Set on its own 800m private beach and surrounded by acres of manicured gardens, the resort is actually three hotels, and the JA Beach Hotel and JA Palm Tree Court are our pick for families.

Recently refurbished rooms, private balconies and great access to all resort facilities await those checking in to JA Beach Hotel, while JA Palm Tree Court offers refreshed villa suites with direct access to the shoreline. It's also where the Just Splash park is, which opened this month, with lots of rides, slides and more for families to enjoy.

There are about 40 activities on offer at JA The Resort with everything from kayaking to mini-golf, plus seven temperature-controlled swimming pools, some with swim-up bars so you don’t need to leave the children to order refreshments.

The on-site equestrian centre offers pony rides and horse-riding lessons, and guests are welcome to visit the horses in their air-conditioned stables.

Children can also head to the Pirates and Mermaids kids' club where there are supervised activities for children aged four to 12, with younger guests welcome in the club creche for a fee.

And when it comes to dining, even fussy eaters will be happy here — there are 25 restaurants to choose from, plus the option to go all-inclusive so you know what your bill will be before you check out.

Rooms from Dh424, excluding taxes; www.jaresortshotels.com

6. An original family favourite — Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Jumeirah’s original hotel is a family-friendly escape right on the beach. Jumeirah Beach Hotel's sail-shaped structure rises high against the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf and the hotel offers spacious rooms with azure views, complimentary water park access and a wide selection of restaurants and bars.

There are six swimming pools, one of which is dedicated to families only, and a 1,000m-long private beach with parasols and sun loungers dotted along its length, all enjoying unrivalled views of the Burj Al Arab.

Golf buggy services buzz around the sizeable resort, making it easy to get from one place to the next and there’s free access to Wild Wadi Waterpark for all in-house guests.

On-site there’s also plenty to do, including a climbing wall, giant board games, tennis courts and water sports, plus a kids' club that’s open for children aged two to 12 and has both indoor and outdoor play zones. Babysitter services are available on request.

Rooms from Dh1,158 including taxes; www.jumeirah.com

7. Splash into Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Waterpark

Nestled in Dubai’s Marina area, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Waterpark is another Dubai stalwart that is perfect for families. Set along 700m of private shoreline with views over the Arabian Gulf, the hotel offers spacious rooms and suites, with interconnecting options.

There are five swimming pools, including a shaded children's pool, and an endless choice of places to dine. Tennis courts and water sports await, as does Jungle Bay — perhaps the city’s most Instagram-friendly water park thanks to its Mediterranean blue-and white Cyclades-inspired design. It’s also great for the whole family with superfast rides, gentle slides, an Aqua Play structure and a 6m pneumatic wave pool.

Drop children at Le Meridien Family Kids' Club, where they can enjoy a daily activity schedule packed with games, crafts, beach activities and more. It’s open to children aged four to 12, and access is complimentary for in-house guests. Guests also have access to facilities at neighbouring Westin Mina Seyahi, which is another of Dubai’s family-friendly gems.

Stays from Dh700, excluding taxes; www.marriott.com

8. A tropical getaway at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

For a taste of the tropics in Dubai, whisk the family off to Palm Jumeirah. Check in at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort where you’re guaranteed a beachside getaway with something for everyone to enjoy.

Home to Dubai’s only overwater villas, the resort also offers suites with direct access into a temperature-controlled lagoon. There are three swimming pools, including a 50m infinity pool, and children can make use of complimentary inflatables or tuck into fresh fruits served from a bamboo boat that sails around the lagoon each day. Hop aboard one of the resort’s colourful tuk-tuk style buggies to whizz across to the myriad bars and restaurants serving cuisines from around the world.

There are also tennis courts and water sports for the family to enjoy plus the fully-supervised Tuk-tuk kids' club, and Chill teens' club. For something truly memorable, take the children for a ride on the resort’s long tail boat, which sets sails around the Palm Island from the resort’s private jetty.

Stays from Dh720, excluding taxes; www.anantara.com

9. Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection

This French Polynesian-inspired hotel at Dubai Parks and Resorts has a great location with complimentary access to the theme parks Legoland Water Park, Motiongate and Bollywood parks and Riverland Dubai.

Set inside beautifully landscaped gardens, the four-star hotel is sizeable, with 504 rooms, all of which are designed with an upscale tropical feel. Spacious family options have two bedrooms, one with a king-size bed and the other with two double beds.

Expect lots of Pacific island touches — from staff sporting flower-filled shirts to palm-leaf ceiling fans as well as several family-friendly restaurants. There are two temperature-controlled swimming pools, one for families and a separate children’s pool, plus a fantastic lazy river for whiling away the sunshine-filled days.

The supervised Kids and Teens clubs offer plenty of activities including coconut treasure hunts and face-painting, while adults can enjoy the on-site spa or fitness centre. And if you're lucky, you may bump into some special characters roaming around the resort.

Rooms from Dh795, including taxes; www.marriott.com

10. Escape to nature at Hatta Wadi Hub

Not quite in the city, but very much part of the Dubai emirate, Hatta Wadi Hub is a guaranteed crowd pleaser with a choice of family-friendly options for those who want to spend the night.

Load up the car and head out towards Hatta — about a 90-minute drive from Dubai. The hub itself is packed with plenty of family fun with everything from e-bikes and zorbing to zip-lines and rope courses, all surrounded by the beautiful Hajar mountains that are also open for hiking and trekking.

When it comes to where to sleep, take your pick — just be sure to book well in advance as this place is popular. The Damani Lodges are built into the cliffside and come with stellar views over the park and space for two adults and two children. Hatta Dome Park boasts bubble-shaped tents that can sleep families of five and include an outdoor terrace space, while larger families can reserve a caravan — the biggest of which can sleep up to two adults and four children.

From Dh650 per night for a caravan stay, excluding taxes; www.visithatta.com

Updated: November 28, 2022, 4:39 AM