Derek Freal

Derek Freal

" ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹǝɥʇouɐ ɯoɹɟ sƃuıɥʇ ǝǝs oʇ ǝʌol ı "
Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!

Millions visit Hawaii every year for the beaches and volcanoes, however there is much more to the islands than that! Even in and around Honolulu tons of offbeat activities abound -- if you know where to look. So the next time you find yourself on a crowded Waikiki Beach and want to break free of the masses and do something uniquely Hawaiian, here's where to start:

Hike To A Waterfall

Likeke Falls outside of Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Places like Manoa Falls and the Maunawili Trail are beautiful, however they are also overcrowded. To find somewhere less touristy but still beautiful, head on out to Likeke Falls just a few miles northeast of Honolulu. Although the falls are not as big as Manoa Falls, the view along the hike more than makes up for it! Just bring shoes because it is always muddy.

Get Lost In The A-Maze-ing Dole Plantation

The Dole Pineapple Plantation on Oahu, Hawaii

Located about thirty minutes outside of Honolulu on the original fields, the Dole Pineapple Plantation includes a museum housed in a replica of the old Dole plantation home, as well as The Pineapple Express, a train tour through the fields. However, their claim to fame is the world's largest maze, built entirely out of Hawaiian pineapple plants and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The world's largest maze is the Dole Pineapple Maze on Oahu, Hawaii

Hidden within the 137,000-square-foot maze are six stations with uniquely shaped hole punches. Each maze-goer is given a card with which to collect these punch marks. However, if one should get frustrated or give up, the card can be ripped open to reveal a map. Those who complete the maze with all the punch marks on an unopened card win a prize if their time is one of the daily or weekly tops.

The plantation is located on the Kamehameha Highway and reachable by bus if traveling on a budget.

Explore Hawaii Plantation Village

Hawaii Plantation Village on Oahu

Lesser-known than the Dole Plantation is the re-creation of a 1900s sugar plantation, Hawaii Plantation Village. It is a detailed look at the history and development of Hawaiian plantations, crops, immigrant workers, and the modern economy. Several tours are offered, all under $10.00 per person, with the longest lasting over two hours. The museum is nonprofit and sorely in need of extra funding, so make sure to buy your bottled water there, instead of bringing it with you.

Visit Jurassic Park

Kualoa Ranch on Oahu, home of Jurassic Park

Since the 1960s, more than 50 Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed on the Kualoa Ranch, including "Godzilla" and "Jurassic Park," as well as TV shows like "Lost." Production gear and props still exist, providing ample selfie opportunities as you get a guided tour through the exciting and beautiful history of this corner of The Big Island. And because Hollywood's "Hawaii Backlot" is still used every year, there is always a chance of encountering a shoot in progress.

Get Your Shrimp On

The famous Giovanni's shrimp truck can be found on the North Short of Oahu, Hawaii

The food truck trend has caught on in Hawaii, and scattered throughout the city are a variety of shrimp trucks, all of which serve succulent, mouth-watering shrimp. However it's the shrimp trucks on the North Shore that are the most famous -- particularly Giovanni's -- which brings me to my next suggestion.

Escape To The North Shore

The North Short of Oahu, Hawaii

To truly break free of the Waikiki crowds, head up to the North Shore for a night or two. There are still plenty of hotels, resorts and beaches, but far fewer people. However, keep in mind that the North Shore is a surfers' paradise famous for its waves, which can be several feet even on a calm day. Not ideal for young children or a relaxing float.

Of course we all know that Hawaii can be an expensive destination, but it doesn't have to be if you plan ahead. Keep an eye out for flight specials by signing up for alerts with one of those airline search sights (whichever your favorite happens to be).

See More       Offbeat Travel Guides   United States Travel Ideas

  flickr   //   danramarch   nostri-imago   3cl   meredith   danramarch   4nitsirk   eekim

Good coffee. Stylish street art. Grunge music. The Space Needle. Seattle street-fashion. These are all things you find in Seattle that might not surprise you. But the city is also friendly, eclectic, and sometimes even a bit eccentric — which means that it is a veritable hotbed of offbeat sights and activities. The next time you find yourself in Seattle, rather than sticking to the boring and predictable tourist route, head on over and check out these unique and offbeat destinations:

The Official Bad Art Museum of Art

OBAMA: The Official Bad Art Museum of Art, a one-of-a-kind offbeat destination in Seattle, Washington

Also known as OBAMA, I was lured in the by promise of good food, good music and bad art at The Official Bad Art Museum of Art. What a winning combination! The "museum" isn't as big as I'd imagined, but it was way more entertaining! Located inside of Cafe Racer, come eager for a bite to eat or to down a beer or cocktail as your peruse their collection of tasteless artwork. It's perfect for killing a half an hour or to use as a meeting place.

The Haunted Vending Machine

Sitting alone on one Seattle street corner and looking decidedly out of place is a beat-up, old vending machine that appears to have been there since the 1950s. Although it has in fact only been here for a few years, no one knows where it comes from or who keeps it stocked.

I thirstily approached it only to find that the buttons reveal no clue as to the contents of the machine. After inserting my 75 cents, I hit the fourth button and was rewarded with an Orange Fanta. Wow, I didn't even know that came in cans. To play the soda lottery yourself and see what the spirits give you, head on over to John & Broadway.

The Pinball Museum

The Pinball Museum in Seattle, Washington, just one of the city's many offbeat sights

Always a fan of crazy and kooky museums, it didn't take any convincing to get me inside the Seattle Pinball Museum. Turns out this place is so much fun that it has no right being called a "museum"— it is in fact an arcade. But, it's one that is complete with vintage games from the 1960s to the 2010s. Apparently they continually rotate through their inventory too, so you never know exactly what goodies from your childhood are waiting inside.

Greenwood Space Travel Supply

Full of knick-knacks, souvenirs, apparel and obvious scientific necessities such as a can of Chaos, a bottled quart of "Uncertainty" and the obligatory Black Hole Starter Kit, I was blown away by Greenwood Space Travel Supply. Not only is it cool and quirky, but by shopping here customers are supporting The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas (formerly 826 Seattle,) a charity working for over a decade to actively improving the writing abilities of children.

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll, just one of Seattle's many offbeat sights

Undeniably Seattle's most well-known offbeat attraction, the Fremont Troll has been lurking underneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge towards north Seattle since 1990. Apparently, it won an art competition and has since become an attraction for out-of-town visitors. It was definitely worthy of the five-minute stop and photo, as well as a mandatory climb up.

See More       Offbeat Travel Guides   United States Archive

  flickr   //   dancentury   natematias   rotron

Vienna is rich in both food and culture, but there is much more than that driving tourists here. Overwhelming history. Amazing coffee. Excellent shopping. Countless nearby vineyards. As Austria's capital and largest city, there is something for everyone here. That is undoubtedly part of the reason the city has become a favorite of so many travelers throughout Central Europe. However, for all you first-timers out there, I've got a few tips and suggestions for you.

Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria

Visit During the Summer

Summers in Vienna are surprisingly pleasant and as a result there is always a plethora of outdoor gatherings, open-air film festivals, farmers' markets, and other events going on. It's also more enjoyable to sit outside while you eat, breathing the fresh air and taking the opportunity to do a bit of people-watching.

Of course if it's the cold weather you want to experience, Vienna is an impeccable Christmas destination. From late November onward there is an ample selection of Christmas markets to be found all around town, much like there is in Germany.

Eat Your Way Around Town

Restaurants throughout Vienna tend to offer a staggering amount of dishes, most of which are pretty delicious. However, before dining at a restaurant, the first food you must try upon arriving in Austria is a Frankfurter. Regardless of what part of town your are in, within a short walk you will encounter a small street-side sausage stand.

Frankfurter from a Würstlstand in Vienna, Austria

They are known locally as "Würstlstand" and the best way to get a quick, authentic, and tasty sausage for cheap. Enjoy a traditional plain Frankfurter, the Burenwurst (with bacon), Käsekrainer (with cheese), or my personal favorite, Bosna (with onions and curry).

Stop and Enjoy the Beans

There is a strong coffee culture throughout Austria, but most especially in Vienna. Of course when I say coffee, I do not mean Starbucks. Although the chain can be found in the city, it is best to be avoided at all cost. Instead opt for a local cafe or coffeehouse, both of which are in plentiful supply throughout the city.

Coffee in Vienna, Austria

Coffee in Austria is a very leisurely event. Don't ask for your coffee to go. Take your time, savor the moment. Bring a book or a laptop or even a friend. Have a bit to eat with your coffee. And if your waiter/waitress comes across as a bit rude or snooty, don't let it get to you. That's a perfectly normal response to strangers. As a local friend explained to me, "You have to be rude at first, before you can be cordial. It's just how we do things."

Stroll the City

Walking aimlessly around the cobblestone streets of Vienna is an enjoyable pastime as well. It truly is a gorgeous city, full of beautiful streets and spectacular architecture. This is a must for any photography, history, or architecture buffs. Or if you want to add an educational aspect to your journey, consider taking a guided walking tour and learning more about the buildings you are marveling over.

Hofburg, Vienna, Austria

  Have any other suggestions?

  flickr // rejik   gastev   twang_dunga   pedrosz

San Diego is one of California's most entertaining cities. It can be exciting or relaxing, fun or mischievous, but always an enjoyable and delicious time. While many people come here for the weather and beaches, there is much more to San Diego than shoreline. Check out these offbeat sights and activities to make your next trip to "the Plymouth of the West."

The Whaley House in San Diego, the Most Haunted House in America

Experience "The Most Haunted House In America"

Never heard of the Whaley House? Neither had I. Turns out this place has a history to it, and was in fact named "the most haunted house in America" in 2005 by Life magazine. Built back in 1857, the Whaley House was much more than just a mansion. It was the theatre, county courthouse and general store. Unfortunately for the Whaleys, however, many of them lost or took their lives in this same house. Sightings of their ghosts are still reported.

The Cuban Cigar Factory in San Diego, California

Visit A Cuban Cigar Factory

Don't worry, it's perfectly legal. The Cuban Cigar Factory uses Cuban tobacco grown in Honduras, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic combined with traditional Cuban methods and expert rollers from Cuba to produce their cigars. It's even possible to watch the masters at work, which means you don't have to be a cigar connoisseur to enjoy a brief visit here.

Lucha Libre restaurant in San Diego, California

Wrestle Your Lunch

What makes good food even better? When you throw in a crazy, quirky environment that overloads your eyes and mind as much as your taste buds. This my friends is Lucha Libre, the most offbeat eatery in all of San Diego. As you may have guessed from the name, this delectable diner has a strong Mexican wrestling theme. In fact they even offer a discount for patrons who dine wearing their favorite lucha mask. Beyond on the flair however are tacos that deliver a smackdown. Definitely the best taco shop in all of San Diego. (Go for the Tap Me Out taco.)

Offbeat Brewing in San Diego, California

Taste-Test Some Offbeat Beer

Be honest, who doesn't like a good craft beer? Offbeat Brewing is known for producing top-notch craft ales and just happens to be located in Escondido, in the northern suburbs of San Diego. The founder and brewmaster left Stone Brewing Company to start Offbeat Brewing in 2011. Since then Offbeat has made a name for themselves throughout not just California but also with craft beer enthusiasts throughout the States. Last year while I took a tour through their brewery and sampled their entire line in the tasting room afterward. The winner? Hands-down it's Bear Arms Brown Ale, one of my favorite beers of all time.

Stumble Into A Secret Speakeasy

For a tasty cocktail simply text the number on the website to make a reservation at Noble Experiment, San Diego's secret speakeasy. Just please don't post about your visit to social media.

Tijuana, Mexico

Bonus: Tijuana!

This Mexican metropolis is located just a short drive or bus ride to the south and is perfect for a day-trip. Eat some delicious food, do some shopping or just soak up the glorious Mexican culture.

Eager to take your trip? Well my final piece of advice is to make sure a book a cheap San Diego hotel and use the money you save exploring these offbeat activities.

See More       Offbeat Travel Guides   United States Travel Ideas

  flickr //   josepha   jeffc5000   quitepeculiar   Dan K   omaromar

So you're passing through the fabled New York City but you only have 48 hours in the Big Apple. How can you make the most of this glorified layover? For starters, by booking a cheap NYC hotel and spending as little time in it as possible. New York City is expensive and there is a never-ending supply of new places to explore, things to experience, and of course food to eat. So save some money by not splurging on a hotel; you will want that extra cash elsewhere.

The city itself contains five boroughs and covers a whopping 305 square miles. Residents who have lived here for years can still consistently find new things to see, do, and eat. However, for guests on a quick trip, these are the sights, activities, and foods that you should not miss.

What to See and Do

A visit to Lower Manhattan is a must. Here you can see the Statue of Liberty, walk down Wall Street and past the New York Stock Exchange, even take a sobering glance at the World Trade Center Site.

This is Wall Street. Welcome to New York City baby. Nothing but wolves here!

Moving north to Midtown are Central Park and Times Square, both of which are very popular with tourists. (In other words, very crowded.) However, an obligatory short stop at both is a must for all first-timers to New York City. If visiting the park as a couple, consider taking a romantic horse-drawn carriage tour through Central Park.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditourium at Times Square, NYC

The city is also home to tons of theatres, art galleries, and museums. Just off Times Square is the Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditourium, which I believe vaguely falls into that last category. This "museum" (and I use that term loosely) is a great offbeat destination and an entertaining way to kill an hour. You cannot even begin to imagine what you will find inside—and I won't ruin it for you by spoiling it.

More offbeat sights and activities in NYC

The Beekman Tower in New York City, an example of some of NYC's unique and stylish architecture
The Beekman Tower

The city that never sleeps has an overwhelming amount of impressive and historic architecture. Set aside three hours and take a walking architecture tour of NYC, perfect for photographers, history buffs, and of course architecture enthusiasts. Or just wander around freely by yourself—you never know what you will find!

The Flatiron Building in New York City, one of NYC's most iconic buildings
The Flatiron Building

What To Eat

Pizza. New York style pizza is known around the entire world. It's time you investigate firsthand and find out why. Although the battle for the best pizza joint in the Big Apple is a war that will never be won, it is certainly a fun one to partake it by eating your way through town.

Nothing beats New York style pizza!

There is only so much pizza that you can eat in 48 hours though, so try to limit yourself to New York's best known pizza spots. Head out to Brooklyn for Lombardi's, famously known as America's first pizzeria (since 1905) and the birthplace of the New York style dish. Other notables include: Di Fara Pizza (also in Brooklyn, since 1965), Patsy's Pizzeria in East Harlem (since 1933), and Denino's out in Staten Island (since 1937).

  Have any additions to this list?

  flickr //   Thomas Hawk   dpbirds   Maciek Lulko   Thomas Hawk   Garrett Ziegler

For some reason people tend to overlook Raleigh, North Carolina as a vacation destination but they really shouldn't. From music to nature, nightlife to history, there is something for everyone here!

Raleigh, North Carolina skyline
Raleigh skyline, as seen from South Saunders   (source)

Raleigh, North Carolina is a bicycle-friendly city
Raleigh is a very bicycle-friendly city   (source)

Charles Frazier House in Raleigh, North Carolina
Charles Frazier House, built in 1925 and on the National Register of Historic Places   (source)

Sun down, fun up in Raleigh, North Carolina
Sun down, fun up   (source)

Great live music in Raleigh, North Carolina
Lots of live music can be found in Raleigh   (source)

Old cottage on the outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina
There is history in Raleigh too   (source)

Old cottage on the outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina
Plenty of beautiful nature in Raleigh as well   (source)

Lake Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh Lake   (source)

Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh, North Carolina
Lake Johnson Park   (source)

But the very best part about Raleigh...

Old cottage on the outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina
There is even a trolley pub!   (source)

So what are you waiting for? Get your trip started!

Montreal is an amazing city and arguably the best in all of Canada (take that Toronto!) but it's also one of those cities that takes time to reveal herself to you. Unfortunately when passing through Montreal briefly for vacation or on a road trip, this type of deep understanding is not always possible.

To truly begin to grasp the magnificence of Montreal you must see her underbelly, live it like a local and experience it all. Here's are a few quick suggestions on how to experience Montreal like a local:

Eat Like A Local

Fairmount Bagel in Montreal, the best bagel in Canada

Montreal is known for its bagels and one of the oldest and most authentic local establishments to enjoy them is Fairmount Bagel. Dating back to 1919, Fairmount is known throughout Canada as the best bagels in the country. Just one bite and you will understand why. Order your personal favorite "all dressed" and then watch the workers hand make and bake more bagels while you wait for it to be served.

Poutine is Canadian comfort food

Poutine is a classic Canadian comfort food and there is no shortage of places to find this dish in Montreal. There is also no shortage of top five and top ten lists of the best poutine joints in Montreal scattered around the web. It's a longstanding debate that will never be settled, however my personal favorite is La Banquise. They don't just serve poutine they serve over thirty different varieties of poutine! My recommendation for all you meat lovers out there is the Three Meats (La Trois Viandes, with ground beef, pepperoni and bacon).

Explore Like A Local

Montreal, Canada is a big bicycle city. At least during the summer.

Montreal is a big bicycle city and a beautiful city to just wander around and randomly explore. But rather than doing this on foot why not rent a bicycle for the day and explore the city on two wheels. Montreal On Wheels rents bicycles and also organizes various tours, if free exploring isn't your cup of tea. They are all great people and have a very local and active community of bicycle enthusiasts supporting them. Always a good way to meet locals.

Montreal is also home to dozens of museums and anyone in the mood for museums should look into getting a Montreal museum pass. It allows for free entry into 35 of Montreal's best museums and is a great way to pack as much learning and culture as possible into a short trip.

Montreal Underground City

Don't forget Montreal's Underground City, built to serve as a warm weather lifeline during those cold Quebec winters. It is composed of over 20 miles of pedestrian tunnels connecting metro stations and apartment complexes to everything from stories, restaurants, movie theatres, banks, offices and more.

Sleep Like A Local

Okay, sleeping like a local might be the trickiest part...namely because visitors don't have a home there, obviously. But to find a temporary home for your Montreal trip then consider checking Airbnb or save time (and a few dollars) by searching the web.

See More       Canada Travel Guides

What other local tips would you suggest for visitors to Montreal?

  flickr // chrisgold earlysound beautyisintheeye2 xiaozhuli

Let's be honest. Food can get boring. Day in and day out, week after week and year after year. Such routine. Such hassle. It's time to make things more interesting. And what better place to do that than in London, England's most diverse and interesting city.

London is an impressive city with hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden nooks and crannies to explore. Food in the city is the same way. There are always exciting new restaurants opening up that are doing something different. So come with me and let's see what kind of quirky restaurant bars we can find.

Bunga Bunga

Bunga Bunga restaurant and bar in London, England

Most restaurants have entrances, usually composed of a door. Boring! It's the places where the entrance is hidden or through the kitchen -- or in this case through a phone both -- that really captivate me before I've seen the inside. Thankfully, I was so impressed by the food here that I had to list Bunga Bunga first. Order the My Little Porcellino, or for a delicious vegetarian pizza, try the Burratina.

La Bodega Negra

La Bodega Negra restaurant and bar in London, England

Much like Bunga Bunga, prospective patrons of La Bodega must pass through a raunchy-looking adult sex shop to gain access to the restaurant within. Don't let that scare you away though -- inside you will find what is arguably the best Mexican food in all of London and drinks that are dangerously easy to down. The Pork Belly Carnitas here are my personal recommendation...but then again I've always been a sucker for pigs.

Circus

Circus restaurant and bar in London, England

I despise the circus (clowns are evil, just trust me on this one) but Circus is amazing! Guests are visually entertained by talented acrobatics and magic tricks while they devour their food and indulge in their drinks. Circus is a bit more expensive than the other establishments on this list, but to be fair you are also paying for the show. Definitely something that every visitor to London should experience at least once.

Meat Liquor

Meat Liquor restaurant and bar in London, England

Admit it: you already want to visit here just having heard the name. It's okay, I had a similar reaction. Turns out that Meat Liquor is the best burger joint in all of London, albeit a bit hippie-esque. Personally I never thought "chicken" and "burger" went together until I tried their Buffalo Chicken Burger. Simply amazing!

Shaka Zulu

Shaka Zulu restaurant and bar in London, England

London's largest and most well-known restaurant bar combination is Shaka Zulu. The restaurant recently re-opened last year following a 5.5 million pound renovation after acquiring the next door bar, Gilgamesh. The place supposedly is now even bigger and better, although I have yet the see the improvements firsthand.

Of course it's no secret that eating out in London and enjoying the city's nightlife is anything but cheap. There are ways to be thrifty. So make sure to check out my guide to cheap London hotels on Hipmunk to save some cash -- cash which can then be spent on some unforgettable food and drinks!

See More       London's Best Offbeat Sights And Activities   London HoliDaze Guides

What are your favorite London restaurant bars?

  flickr // ReadingTom EwanMunro masochismtango lokon swamibu

Eager to take a long overdue romantic getaway to Miami? It's no problem finding someone to watch over the kids for a weekend but what about your favorite four-legged friend? Obviously they have to come with! Thankfully there are plenty of charming great pet-friendly hotels in Miami Beach.

EPIC

The view from the pool at EPIC hotel in Miami
The view from the EPIC pool

Plush carpet. Spacious bathrooms. Sparkling fixtures and furniture. The name of this downtown Miami hotel describes it in one word: EPIC. I am nervous just wearing my shoes or drinking wine over the carpet around friends' places this nice; I would certainly never think it acceptable to bring a pet somewhere like this. However the EPIC not only is allows pets they even encourage them by never charging a pet fee or size limitation. Add in an amazing view and delicious restaurant and it's a wonder that EPIC is so aptly named.

Sofitel

Located right on the highway outside the airport, Sofitel is the perfect pet-friendly hotel for anyone in transit. However it by no means looks or feels like an airport hotel. Instead Sofitel exudes a unique charm thanks to it's stylish design that features just a touch of that modern Paris feel. Plus what they lack in beachfront view they more than make up for with their jaw-dropping view of the downtown Miami skyline. Although they do charge a $300 deposit per pet, it is 100% refundable as long as Fido doesn't destroy the place.

Fortune House

Another option for visitors that prefer the calm and quite located a few miles south of the heart of Miami is Fortune House. The hotel has an amazing few and rooms with balconies, if so desired. They are the perfect place to enjoy a bottle of wine while watching basking in the sun set. Fortune House is one of the best options for longer vacations thanks to their extended stay discount and tranquil surroundings.

Viceroy

The Viceroy Hotel in Miami, Florida

When nothing but the absolute best will do for you and your furry family members, the Viceroy is the only hotel in Miami to consider. Impeccable style, impressive views and an infinity pool -- all three of which can be enjoyed simultaneously on the 15th floor -- are just a few of the many things that the Viceroy has to brag about. A world class spa, top-notch dining with a seemingly endless wine choices and delectable cocktails, the hardest thing about staying at the Viceroy is leaving. However if you have to enquire as to what their pet fee is, this might not be the best hotel for you.

The Most Affordable Options

For the budget conscious traveler, Miami also have several pet-friendly options that will give you everything you need to feel at home on the road without any of those excess frills. Red South Beach is located just across the causeway in Miami Beach and their prices cannot be beat. Definitely the best pet-friendly lodging and an ocean view within twenty miles. Extended Stay America also has a Miami location that is perfect for the family on the road.

See More       Pet-Friendly Hotels   USA Travel Guides

  flickr //   gaensler eager

No other metropolis on earth compares to Dubai. Located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is home to the world's tallest building and several breathtaking manmade islands that have turned the city into a household name around the world. Their iconic innovations and architecture combined with white sands and year-round sun draw an increasing number of foreign tourists every year.

To keep up with these hordes of cash-wielding foreigners, hotels in Dubai have taken excess to the extreme. The next time you find yourself in Dubai for a day or two, check out some of these over-the-top monuments of excessi--Dubai's most amazing luxury hotels:

The Palace Downtown Dubai

The Dubai Palace Hotel in the United Arab Emirates

To be treated like modern-day royalty, one need not look further than The Palace. The Arabian theme and architecture whisk guests back in time, until they look up and see that directly across the lake lies the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Rooms and suites come in a variety of luxurious themes and each has a balcony; however it's the 500-square-metre two-story Imperial Suite penthouse that takes the crown here. With four master bedrooms, two living rooms, two study rooms, two dining rooms and 360-degree view of the city, there is no better place to stay in downtown Dubai.

Armani Hotel Dubai

The Dubai Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, United Arab Emirates, the world's tallest building and hotel

When simply seeing and visiting the world's the building is not enough and you need to stay overnight in it, then the Armani Hotel is your only option. Literally. As the exclusive hotel inside Burj Khalifa, the Armani rooms all have a view of Dubai unlike any other: it lacks the city's most iconic structure. And while the hotel may be on the small side (it only occupies six floors of the Burj, 34th-39th) everything else about it from the service to the design is grandiose.

Of course its the 390-square-metre penthouse suite where the party really takes place. In addition to the 360 degree views of the city, the desert and the sea beyond, it comes complete with multiple dining rooms facing each of those three directions (allowing guests to enjoy whichever scenic background view they prefer) as well as its own private gym and fully stocked bar and pantry.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers

The Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai

Two of the Dubai skyline's most stunning masterpieces are the beautiful Jumeirah Emirates Towers. All 400 hotel rooms feature a sleek and elegant modern Arabian style complemented by breathtaking views of the city. Of course the towers are much more than just a hotel. They also are home to a wide variety of shopping, dining and nightlife options, ensuring that all the guests needs can be met on site. Of course, should guests want to leave the Towers to get a little sun and water in their life, it's good to know that complimentary passes to a private Towers beach and the Wild Wadi Waterpark are provided to each guest.

However, anyone booking the 312-square-metre, two-storey Royal Suite won't want to leave this palacial enclave with floor to ceiling windows in every room.

Have you stayed at any over-the-top luxury hotels in Dubai?

See More       Luxury Travel Guides

  flickr // o_0 misc9 benginahmad

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