Atlantis the Royal is the Best Hotel in the World, Change My Mind | Savoir Flair
Suite Stay
Atlantis the Royal is the Best Hotel in the World, Change My Mind
article ATLANTIS THE ROYAL
by Grace Gordon 10-minute read May 30, 2024

If opulence had an address, it would be Atlantis the Royal, where Dubai's penchant for hyperbole finds its most luxurious expression.

article ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

Like many Dubai residents, I watched the construction of Atlantis the Royal for years, with curiosity lingering in the back of my mind. What will it look like? Would it really be as elite and luxurious as rumors made it out to be? Was that really even possible when Dubai’s hospitality scene was already the land of so much hyperbolic excess? Finally, I was offered the chance to answer these burning questions for myself.

In early 2023, Atlantis the Royal launched in what is now legendary fashion with a three-day opening event that culminated in a private multi-million dollar performance by Beyoncé. The weekend was open only to a select roster of invited guests, of which we were honored to be a part, and included the likes of Ashley Park of Emily in Paris fame, model Kendall Jenner, One Direction's Liam Payne, and other illustrious guests. The spectacle went viral – despite a no-phones policy at the performance – and Atlantis the Royal, as the host of this one-of-a-kind evening, became the most talked-about hotel in the world overnight. 

ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

Before becoming a guest, I visited many times throughout the year after it opened. Days after opening to the public, I walked through its impressive water-and-flame entryway for the first time to explore Louis Vuitton’s “Crafting Dreams” event, which was held in the same jaw-dropping suite that Beyoncé famously stayed at during the hotel’s inaugural weekend. Incidentally, Louis Vuitton later collaborated with Atlantis the Royal for the property's first anniversary with the arrival of the brand's larger-than-life mascot, Vivienne. Reborn as six enormous statues dotting the premises, each one came with a QR code so that you could capture how Vivienne interacted with the property on your phone. In some shots, she loomed larger than life over its curving stacks, and with each prompt, she came to life to delight visitors, both old and young. 

Later on, I would dine at Jaleo by José Andrés when it opened, at Ariana’s Persian Kitchen for a Net-a-Porter iftar, at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for a fine-dining review, at Nobu by the Beach with my cousin, and at La Mar for a friend’s event. Each one of these visits was special but left me more and more curious. As individually magnificent as Atlantis the Royal’s many F&B outlets were, I was hungry for more. Because the truth is, it’s only in staying at Atlantis the Royal as a guest that you fully understand just how magical this property is. 

ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

Construction for Atlantis the Royal began in 2016 and was undertaken by master architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, who are famed for other architectural marvels such as Abu Dhabi’s Zayed International Airport, South Korea’s Lotte World Tower, Shanghai’s World Financial Center, and Kuwait’s Capital  Markets Authority Headquarters. It began with the audacious task of creating a “deconstructed” tower, one that lay in curving stacks rather than reaching up linearly into the sky. All of its glass facade – 90,000 square meters of glass, to be precise – creates a “porous” look that allows unobstructed views of the Arabian Gulf on one side and the Dubai skyline on the other. Interiors were done by famed interior designer Sybille de Margerie, and its water features came at the hands of the forward-thinking water feature creators WET Design. Calculated aquatic elements bring the feel of the ocean inside, without disrupting the modernity of the property. With 795 rooms, 44 swimming pools, 18 restaurants, and the world's largest jellyfish aquarium, Atlantis the Royal is immense and grand on a scale that can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. 

My recommendation is to spend your first few hours there getting your “sea legs,” so to speak. The property is split into different towers – Sunrise, Sunlight, and Sunset –  connected by an enormous lobby. There is a Galleria level, which is where you’ll find the main lobby, entrance to thel Royal Tearoom, and access to the beach, as well as outdoor restaurants Nobu, Nobu by the Beach, and Milos. The lowest Promenade level is where you’ll find the stunning AWAKEN Spa, and has the most straightforward access to the outdoors. Not only are there amenities every few meters, but there are also lots of shops, galleries, and pop-ups to explore. You will end up getting a lot of steps in because the property is enormous, but you’ll never feel like anything is that far or that strenuous to reach because there is so much to see and do along the way. 

Suite Life

Walking into the Palmscape King room (ours was on a high floor) is a wonderful experience. Instantly, the sun-drenched room offers a mood pick-me-up that only increases as you approach the balcony to see a stunning vista of the Palm in all of its splendor. The floors are appointed with rugs in undulating shades of blue, not unlike the ocean waves offered by the view. The bed is enormous and just the right blend of plush and firm, topped with fat pillows and a thick white duvet cover. The marbled bathroom offers both a standalone tub option and a shower with a rain showerhead and a regular showerhead. Dual sinks mean sharing with a partner or friend is easy, and no one has to fight for mirror space. The bathroom is separated by a sliding door, and its clear glass panes can be “magically” made opaque with the press of a button. What really stopped me in my tracks were the generous amenities. Graff toiletries, gold toothbrushes, gold-handled loofahs, heavy white and gold pens, lint rollers, portable buffs to shine your shoes, a gorgeous white-and-gold hair dryer, plush slippers, and more really put the “royal” in Atlantis the Royal. In this room, you will want for nothing; every detail has already been seen to. In past experiences staying in other splendid and legendary hotels around the world, guest services were sometimes lacking, but not here. All of our requests, from room service and ice buckets to extra water bottles and towels, were met swiftly and with a smile. I turned to my husband, who had joined me on our royal staycation, on our second night and said, “They’re making us feel so special it almost feels like our honeymoon.” In fact, by the time we were done with our incredible weekend at Atlantis the Royal, we shared the consensus that the stay had, in fact, been better than our honeymoon. 

article ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

Food Matters

With 18 restaurants and a Royal Club for privileged guests, you are more than spoiled for choice when it comes to dining at Atlantis the Royal. Most guest’s first stop is the legendary buffet at Gastronomy. In fact, buffet seems like the wrong word for this unparalleled feast, which boasts dozens of live cooking stations and cuisines from all over the world. There’s a charcuterie room for prime meats and cheeses, a bakery, an ice cream parlor, a fish stall, a smoothie bar, a dumpling station, and so much more. Gastronomy can seat over 1,000 guests, but because of the way its seating areas are broken into small, cozy sections, the experience feels intimate rather than overwhelming.

While just about every restaurant in the hotel boasts beautiful views, there's something to be said for indulging in spots that are out-of-doors where you can really soak up the holiday vibes. I was mesmerized by the stunning decor at Cloud 22, created in partnership with Dolce & Gabbana. Vibrant blue maiolica prints bring the flair of the Italian Riviera to the already-stunning scene of this lofty pool club, and the experience is further enhanced by a delicious menu of bruschetta with Oscietra caviar, Gillardeau oysters drizzled with Amalfi lemon, and truffle-topped steak tartare. Although there was already a thumping soundtrack to add to the ambiance of the setting, my mind couldn't help but play the White Lotus theme song on a loop while I gazed out over the pool's lounging couples.

Another poolside option comes in spectacular form thanks to Nobu's first beach concept, Nobu by the Beach. Nobu by the Beach brings its world-famous menu poolside, which feels particularly indulgent. Personally, Nobu's Crispy Shiitake Salad with Goma Truffle Dressing is one of my death row meals. It's unbelievably delicious, and when coupled with the upscale vibes of the establishment, it somehow tastes even better. Light bites are a must when you're sitting around in a swimsuit (at least, that's my personal belief), so opt for the restaurant's signature yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, tuna crispy rice, and coconut sea bass ceviche and you'll still feel good enough to go for a swim after.

For fresh Peruvian food that is bursting with flavor, head to La Mar, and try to time your visit to their ever-popular Pisco Brunch, where a variety of delicious Pisco mixes accompany an array of citrus-y ceviches, fresh seafood dishes, and decadent desserts. On weekends, live music keeps the crowd buzzing.

Save room for Ariana’s Persian Kitchen, where you’ll start with both cold and hot mezzehs like Zeytoon Parvardeh made from marinated olives and walnuts, yogurt-based Queen Pourani Dip, savory and warm Dolmeh Bargeh Mo, and smoky Kashk E Bademjoon eggplant. Don’t miss out on Iran’s national dish, Ghormeh Sabzi, which features a five-herb stew with dried Shirazi limes and tender morsels of meat in a rich sauce.

While I have been lucky enough to dine at a few of Atlantis the Royal’s amazing establishments before, this trip marked my first time at Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis. Perched above Atlantis the Royal’s fire and water fountain, this restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. Beyond its scenic beauty, it’s where we enjoyed our favorite meal of the weekend. We instantly fell in love with the restaurant’s signature Milos Special, which featured crispy thin zucchini and eggplant layered with Saganaki cheese and tzatziki. Salty, lightly fried, and bursting with Mediterranean freshness, this dish was a highlight. We also loved the calamari, stuffed zucchini blossoms, and mild Holland peppers. For your main, make a trip to the restaurant’s own market and select your favorite fish. We chose a red snapper, baked in salt, and could not believe how tender and delicate it was. It was one of those meals that you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Finally, we can’t discuss the amazing dining at Atlantis the Royal without mentioning the Royal Club. Throughout the day and into the evening, you can stop by at any time for a bounty of delicious treats, including oysters, caviar, pastas, desserts, and free-flowing beverages. For the brief moment that we were Royal Club “members,” we felt incredibly bougie. “So this is how the other half lives,” my husband joked.

article MILOS | ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

R&R

If you’re in dire need of some rest and relaxation, AWAKEN Spa has everything in one convenient location. And I mean everything. It has a chromotherapy and charcoal sauna, a hammam, a salt cave, a hydrotherapy pool, and a huge list of treatments that employ locally-sourced ingredients like dates, Gulf Sea salt, oud, and more. While the AWAKEN Spa at Atlantis the Royal is exceptionally beautiful and serene (and trying the facilities and getting a massage or facial while you’re there is a must-do), the hotel goes beyond typical spa offerings with its AEON Clinic. AEON Clinic is something else entirely, a place where experts in rejuvenative medicine delve into your medical history and come up with unique solutions. When I was there, I opted for an IV fusion of vitamins to boost my energy, but in speaking to the doctor there I learned about a whole host of AEON services that blew my mind. IV lasers, for instance, were completely new to me. These lasers are introduced intravenously and shoot either blue, red, yellow, or green infrared light into your veins until all of your blood has circulated through them. The benefits are fast and long-lasting, whether it’s boosting oxygen, decreasing inflammation, or increasing energy levels. Regenerative medicine uses the body’s own ability to heal itself, which is why the effects of these treatments can be truly life-changing, especially if you do a series of treatments. Intrigued, I made a mental note to return and try something new. 

article AWAKEN SPA | ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

Location, Location, Location

Why would you ever want to leave Atlantis the Royal? What could you possibly venture out and see in the city that’s better than what you’ll find on the property itself? Adjacent to Aquaventure Park and the Aquarium at its sister property, Atlantis Resort, there’s plenty for the kids to do and plenty for the grown-ups to get up to while the kids are preoccupied. I recommend a leisurely afternoon at the beach, where the service is top-notch, and the ocean beckons you for a dip. Or stroll the property to gawk at the mind-blowing water features, hit the spa, do a little shopping at Level, take some incredible selfies in the pool at the Dolce & Gabbana-decorated Cloud 22, spend a lazy afternoon at Nobu by the Beach, get a little decorative object at Tanagra to remember your trip by – the possibilities are practically endless. 

If you’re still itching for other adventures, remind yourself that you’re currently standing on one of the world’s greatest manmade wonders. There’s plenty to do on The Palm itself, but you could always go further afield and try one of Dubai’s amazing tourist attractions, like heading to the top of the Burj Khalifa or spending a day in the desert at a Bedouin retreat. But I promise you, everything else pales in comparison to the actual experience of Atlantis the Royal. It’s simply awe-inspiring. After all the magical experiences I’ve had around the world reviewing hotels and resorts, I can say with confidence that Atlantis the Royal is the best hotel in the world. Try to change my mind. Too late, it’s already made up.

article CLOUD 22 | ATLANTIS THE ROYAL

To book your own magical, memorable stay at the best hotel in the world, visit Atlantis.com or call (+971) 04 426 3000.

Share This Story
Look 28 from Balenciaga‘s Fall 2022 Couture collection CHANEL | SAVOIR FLAIR HUBLOT | SAVOIR FLAIR
@savoirflair