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Review: Atlantis the Royal: First In

Dubai’s newest mega-resort delivers on all the superlatives you’d expect from the city, but also on superb service.
Hot List 2023
  • Brand new ultra-luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal is situated on the world famous Palm in Dubai, with 17 restaurants and bars, a 22nd floor outdoor entertainment venue and 2km of private beach for its guests
  • At 11.5 metres tall and consisting of 5.5 tonnes of stainless steel, Droplets is the focal piece of the lobby at the world’s newest ultra-luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal, in Dubai
  • One of the signature suites at Atlantis The Royal, featuring interiors by GA Design


Brand new ultra-luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal is situated on the world famous Palm in Dubai, with 17 restaurants and bars, a 22nd floor outdoor entertainment venue and 2km of private beach for its guestsAt 11.5 metres tall and consisting of 5.5 tonnes of stainless steel, Droplets is the focal piece of the lobby at the world’s newest ultra-luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal, in DubaiOne of the signature suites at Atlantis The Royal, featuring interiors by GA Design
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Why book? 

If you want to do Dubai on a grand scale, this is the place. Atlantis The Royal isn’t an understated bolt-hole: It’s big, it’s bold, and brands itself “the most ultra-luxury experiential resort in the world.” This is a hotel with 795 rooms and suites, 17 restaurants and bars, 17 high-end boutiques, wellness space spanning 32,300 square feet, and multiple swimming pools, including Cloud 22, perched high on top of the skybridge. If bling’s your thing, Atlantis The Royal is for you. Don’t let the fire and fountain shows distract you from the fact that the staff here are exceptional. In spite of its sheer scale, the resort delivers some of the best service you’ll experience anywhere in the city.

Set the scene 

Atlantis The Royal is big. Huge, in fact. And so was the hype around its opening. Eight years in the making, this is a hotel that was clamoring for attention long before it started welcoming guests on February 10. In late January, it put on a “Grand Reveal,” inviting VIPs, celebrities, and influencers for a three-day extravaganza during which 4,200 bottles of Moët & Chandon were consumed. Beyoncé performed her first concert in five years for an undisclosed but much speculated-upon fee. Kendall Jenner launched a tequila brand. Jay-Z smoked cigars by the beach. Tiësto wrote a theme song. Like the hotel itself, this party was extra, on an extraordinary scale. Atlantis The Royal is not subtle, and that’s why you come here.

Compared to neighboring Atlantis The Palm, with which it shares a 1.2-mile beach, Atlantis The Royal feels more grown-up. The restaurants here are for proper dressed-up nights out, there are plenty of adults-only spaces to retreat to in the daytime like the poolside recliners at Nobu by the Beach and the sky-high daybeds at Cloud 22, and also to party in at night, like the scene-y Ling Ling. The eclectic mix of guests makes for intriguing people-watching, and one thing is very clear: They’re all here to have a great time and enjoy it to the full, seemingly undeterred by the price tag.

The backstory 

Like all good—and possibly apocryphal—architecture stories, the original sketches of Atlantis The Royal started on a napkin at a cocktail party. Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the architects behind New York’s One Vanderbilt, the hotel is an evolution of Dubai’s original Atlantis The Palm, moving away from the underwater Lost City theme and replacing it with light, space, and pools in the sky. 

The rooms 

Compared to the over-the-top feel of much of the resort, the rooms can—at first—feel a little underwhelming. They’re spacious (the smallest measure 600 square feet) and light, with neutral color schemes and swirls of aquatic blue in the carpets. Bathrooms are big and are separated from the bedroom by glass walls that become opaque at the touch of the “magic glass” button. Décor is minimalist, and once you make it out to the balcony and see the views, the room starts to feel like a mere backdrop. Unless you really love looking at the sea, book one facing the Palm Jumeirah to be completely mesmerized. 

The extravagance of the hotel comes to the fore in the suites and penthouses. Forty-four of them have their own glass-sided pools high up in the air, and the penthouses have huge indoor and outdoor lounge and dining areas, large landscaped terraces, oversized pots of orchids, and vast marble-clad bathrooms with tubs that look out over the Arabian Gulf. All suites and penthouses include complimentary airport transfers, butler service, and breakfast.

Food and drink 

The resort’s 17 restaurants and bars cover everything from big-name celebrity chef concepts to Emirati afternoon tea. Californian diner Malibu 90265 serves juicy lobster rolls and Bloody Marys that are practically meals in their own right, as well as Micheladas that come with tuna tacos popping out of the top. At Nobu by the Beach, Nobu favorites are translated into poolside bites served straight to your recliner or private cabana. Molecular cocktails at Resonance by Heston Blumenthal push the limits of culinary science, although non-drinkers aren’t left out—the resort puts as much focus on 0ABV beverages as on alcoholic versions. At Jaleo by José Andrés, enormous dishes of paella are cooked on wood fires in the middle of the restaurant, served to the rousing clanging of a cowbell. The outdoor tables at Estiatorio Milos offer Greek seafood alongside front-row seats for a spectacular fire and water fountain show by the creators of the Rain Vortex at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

The spa

The treatment menu here is predictably vast, ranging from massage and energy therapies to results-driven facials and family bonding rituals, but for something really interesting go for the “local list” featuring ingredients like oud, dates, Dubai desert sand, and Gulf sea salt. Additional spa facilities include a salt cave, hydrotherapy pool, aromatherapy, chromotherapy, and a charcoal sauna, and there’s a hammam on the way.

The neighborhood/area

Situated on the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, the two neighboring Atlantis resorts make up a self-contained world of fun, food, and people-watching. With 54 restaurants and bars between them, as well as two spas, shopping, kids’ facilities, the Lost Chambers Aquarium, and the Aquaventure waterpark with 50 waterslides, many guests never feel the need to leave until they head back to the airport. 

The service 

In a word, superb. 107 different nationalities work at Atlantis The Royal, making for a wonderfully multicultural team. In a hotel of this size with more than 2,100 staff, you might expect things to be a bit faceless and impersonal. But everyone I met, from security staff to restroom attendants, servers, chefs, and housekeepers, was unfailingly friendly, warm, confident, and knowledgeable, and seemed genuinely to care if I was enjoying myself. In a property of this scale, that’s no mean feat.

For families 

From the fire and fountain shows to the well-designed Atlantis Explorers’ Club, children’s splash pad, and family watersports, there’s plenty to keep kids happy here. Additionally, all stays include complimentary access to the adjacent Aquaventure waterpark and aquarium. The Royal Pool is the family pool, and there’s a 1.2-mile stretch of beach here to play on, but be careful around the water—this is jellyfish territory at certain times of year, as evidenced by the purple warning flags fluttering along the sands. Stick to the pools if you don’t want an unpleasant surprise.

 Eco effort 

Atlantis’s Atlas Project—a “commitment to do business in ways that are good for both people and planet”—has a number of ongoing sustainability initiatives, including recycling efforts, marine conservation, education and science programs, water conservation, and donating used amenities to local charities in an aim to tread as lightly as an operation of this mammoth scale can. 

The single-use bathroom amenities in the rooms seem like a misstep, though. The world’s first collaboration with Graff, it’s surprising that they didn’t come up with refillable options. 


There are eight accessible rooms in Atlantis The Royal, and ramps and elevators around the property, including the beach and pools, facilitate access for people with limited mobility. The overall scale and architecture of the resort—vast public areas, wide corridors, and internal boulevards—help with navigation for wheelchair users.

Anything left to mention? 

Breakfast at Gastronomy should not be skipped under any circumstances. This multi-kitchen venue features a coffee roastery, ovens constantly turning out gianduja-filled pains au chocolat and zaatar-coated croissants, steamers filled with dim sum, and smoking machines for fish and meat. Salad dressing is dispensed from wall-mounted tanks that look like science experiments, and chocolate fountains guarantee sugar rushes for kids and adults alike. But what’s even more impressive than the food selection is the passion of the breakfast chefs. Chef Louis convinced me to try the eggs benedict with salmon smoked overnight, promising it would be the best I’ve ever had (he was right). Chef Stella made me a croiffle, throwing croissant dough into a waffle maker before topping it with hazelnut ganache, a dollop of vanilla ice cream, toffee sauce, and crispy chocolate pearls for one of the most ridiculous yet delicious breakfasts I’ve ever had. You could spend hours here, grazing, and you absolutely should. It’s a guaranteed highlight of any stay.

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