The top cheap and chic travel destinations

Sharm el Sheikh is adorned with red corals and has excellent touristic facilities.(Shutterstock)
Updated 02 April 2018
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The top cheap and chic travel destinations

DUBAI: If you are seeking great luxury on your next getaway without wanting to dig deep into your pocket then you may not have to look far according
to Skyscanner, a popular and widely used travel website. Many of the destinations on a global list of 100 cities with the cheapest five-star hotels are only a few hours away from the Gulf.
Sharm el Sheikh
Topping Skysacnners list, this Red Sea resort is adorned with red corals and has excellent touristic facilities, especially if you have green credentials and like ecotourism.The waters of Ras Mohamad National Park are abundant with schools of brightly colored fish, yet the average cost of a five star hotel room is $105 per night and savvy ones can even find some rooms as cheap as $33 per night.
Hurghada
Also on the Red Sea and within easy reach of many countries in the region is this restful city with its old quarter known as Al-Dahar, its azure waters and amazing coral formations. Diving is the sport of choice here but if you feel the need for more watchful mindedness then snorkelling might be your thing or a visit to Al-Jaftoun islands or even a desert safari. Rooms in 5 star hotels cost as little as $122 per night.
Kuala Lumpur
From flea markets to skyscrapers, the Malaysian capital has a lot to offer. Architecture fans can feast their eyes on Colonial buildings dotted around the city and modern landmarks in the Golden Triangle area which includes the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world, the Petronas twin towers, and China Town. If you prefer to gaze around rather than above you, then the 400 million years old Batu caves will fill you with wonder. And you will still have a lot of change left in your pocket to enjoy all the gastronomic delights on offer when a room in a 5 star hotel costs $129 per night.
Sofia
If you are into European culture, the Bulgarian capital offers a lot to see and do. Several museums shed light on the history, architecture, archaeology, military history and natural history of this former Soviet bloc country while those after shopping can forget Soviet-era austerity in Vitosha Boulevard. The city’s architectural heritage includes the 4th century St. George Rotunda, brutalist communist era housing estates and the St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral, the largest Roman Orthodox cathedral in the world. And you can still have enough dosh to visit the Vitosha mountains with a 5 star hotel room costing $132 per night.
Sharjah
For the health conscious and culturally oriented, this WHO designated healthy city is a breath of fresh air. Capital of the Sharjah emirate in UAE, it lies on the Arabian Gulf and has been nominated as Islamic Culture Capital in 2014. A variety of souqs, squares, forts, museums and a vibrant gold market make this a city for all tastes. The waterfront, wildlife center and aquarium make it suitable for families. Art lovers can install themselves at the Al Noor island located in the Khalid lagoon where a variety of art and light installations are exhibited. And all for $135 per night at a 5 star hotel.
Ho Chi Minh city
Formerly known as Saigon, the Vietnamese capital is especially popular with backpackers but offers a lot also for those who enjoy their creature delights. Museums reflecting the country’s turbulent history, theaters, amusement centers, culture parks and an amazing eco beach provide savvy travelers with a variety of choices. Those who like a resistance act can enjoy the underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong fighters while Vietnamese street food is simply irresistible. And at a $160 per night in a 5 star hotel, resistance is futile and no backpack is needed.


Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

Luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers. (bulgarihotels.com)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

  • The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island
  • Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic

DUBAI: Bulgari, the venerated Italian design house, has just five hotels around the world. And even in Dubai — a city crammed with luxury hotels — the Bulgari Resort manages to seem exclusive. The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island, offering guests some respite from the city’s often-hectic atmosphere, even though it is literally minutes away from the pulsing heart of Dubai.

Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic. Master architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel — who are responsible for all the Bulgari hotels worldwide — have used a neutral color palette and custom motifs, such as coral-inspired lacquered steel parapets and mashrabiya-patterned accents, to give the hotel a sense of place.

Here, luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers, with fine materials — from Italian marble to sumptuous silks, impeccable attention to detail, and touches including the signature fragrance that wafts around you from the second you enter.

The hotel is responsible for a couple of firsts for the brand, including its ‘Little Gems’ kids club — where children are entertained with bespoke activities such as cooking classes and treasure hunts while their parents enjoy some downtime — and the global debut of the Bulgari Marina & Yacht Club, which has its own pool and recreation facilities, signature seafood restaurant, and 50-berth harbor.

All rooms and suites feature a walk-in closet, spacious balconies, smooth one-touch button controls, and bathrooms with standalone tubs boasting enviable views — making for some excellent Insta-fodder. The signature trunk-style mini-bar is as funky as it is functional, and the trendy basket beach bags are perfect for stashing your souvenirs — including designer knick-knacks from on-site concept store La Galleria.

The one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas offer private pools and butler service, but you don’t want to miss the resort’s circular central pool, where luxury cabanas with oversized daybeds and on-call service invite you to lounge the day away. Just adjacent is the crescent-shaped private beach, with the gentle waters of the Arabian Gulf offering perfect swimming conditions, even if the tip of the seahorse-shaped island mars the view slightly.

Whether you opt for a beach-and-pool day or a Dubai-sightseeing trip, your evening should definitely be devoted to the quintessentially Italian aperitivo experience at Il Bar, where an oval-shaped chrome counter provides a social centerpiece, and an outdoor terrace offers marina views. The seriously chic Il Ristorante (by lauded Italian chef Niko Romito) is just next door, and shares the terrace. Its tiramisu is one of the best in town, as is the freshly baked rustic bread.

Offering a more pared-back dining experience are La Spiaggia, a beachside restaurant and bar, and Il Café, the Bulgari take on a casual all-day dining destination which still features jaw-dropping design, and, in line with the whole ‘nothing is too much trouble’ service ethos, serves breakfast all day.

That ethos extends to the spa too, where therapists provide the ultimate in pampering using top-shelf products, including La Mer, in a soothing nature-inspired space. The use of rare precious materials, including grey Vicenza stone and green onyx, infuse the environment with a subtle opulence.

A 25-meter indoor swimming pool with its own cabanas, extensive facilities (including a shower offering a “Caribbean thunderstorm” experience), and private hammam, plus an exclusive Lee Mullins training program at the state-of-the-art gym complete the impressive recreation facilities at the resort.

If you’re looking for a classy, authentic ‘slice-of-Italy’ experience in the Middle East, then the Bulgari Resort Dubai is where you should check in.