Venue Review: InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Staycations are the next best thing to hoping on an airplane and flying somewhere tropical. Sometimes even better, because it’s just the right amount of time to recharge your batteries, soak up some great family time and best of all you are a 15 minute car ride from home!

This past weekend I went to explore the 5 star InterContinental Dubai Festival City. As the name says, yes, it’s located right at Festival City (with direct access to the mall). FYI that mall has undergone SO many changes, I think it just might be my new fav place to shop (no I was not told to write that!). It has my families favorite stores: Toys R US, Build A Bear, IKEA & Ace! LOL!

Alright back to the hotel! We checked in a bit late (around 3pm) and the kids were immediately greeted with “VIK” welcome bags and lanyards. This was all very new to me as I did not know the hotel had such a program. VIK stands for “Very Important Kid”. Like my kids needed to hear that again, they just kept rubbing it in my face. By wearing the badge it gave them access to free meals (when Mom & Dad dine too) and could also be used to take part in activities. The VIK program only runs during special holidays (upcoming Eid, Christmas, Easter, Ramadan).


Some organized activities V.I.K have planned for next week (Eid) are Marco Polo, a treasure hunt, water balloon game and more (Mom or Dad are to approach the Club Team to register). Plus each evening at 6pm they set up a movie night for the kids including popcorn. The only thing I was disappointed to discover, is that there was no physical kids club located in the hotel. Might be a good idea to investigate in making one. Not that I was planning on dumping my kids at the club for free babysitting, I SWEAR! It’s just that Ruby & Nate genuinely love to make crafts whenever they visit hotels.

Some other fun facts for kids staying at the InterContinental:

  • If you forgot your armbands/floaties at home (which has happened MANY times to me) simply ask and you can use a complimentary pair!
  • 24 hour babysitting services are available
  • 50% discount on laundry service for children 6 and under
  • Should you require a baby cot, baby pillow, high chair, kids stool, baby cutlery, baby bathrobe these can be requested from the front desk

We stayed in a sumptuous suite with the most spectacular view of Dubai & the creek on the 19th floor (the hotel has a total of 36 levels). Check out our amazing club suite! I would be quite happy selling my house and moving into something more sleek like this place haha!


A dining room, living room, office space, very large master bedroom, walk in closet with motion sensor lights, and the most glorious bathroom of all time! That soaker tub…heaven!


My Mom and I always joke how sheets of say… 600 thread-count feel like sandpaper on the body. It’s true! Well I happened to find the bed sheets in our suite rather perfect, silky & smooth. I have this “thing” no matter WHERE I go, I need to pull back the sheets and mattress cover to be EXTRA sure there are no bedbugs or any sort of bugs in my bed. I know, I am twisted. But it has to be done. For the first time in…AGES I slipped into my bed and didn’t think twice to check. It felt so clean and fresh it just didn’t have to happen.


I really loved the little touch for the kids that the hotel thought of. They had their own pair of hotel slippers just like Mom & Dad. Cute Arabic style type with pointy toes. They were on the tight side, even for their narrow itty bitty feet so I might suggest they carry them in various sizes. The bathrobes were also on the big side even though they had two on offer for Ruby & Nate.


(Screenshot from my Instagram account @Mommyindubai)

Can you believe what I did…I darn well forgot to pack my pajamas. My husband rolled his eyes when I told him, as if to say “so typical, you forget EVERYTHING”. I snapped back quickly to ask him how many bags did he pack…that’s right only one, HIS! Thank you very much! So I wore one of the robes they had for adults. It was actually quite nice, thin almost Asian style. I slept well in it haha.

The room was really just perfect for my family. It has been some time since we have stayed in a suite and boy does it really make a difference to have that extra space!

So after we snooped around our room and concluded that our favorite feature was the bathroom, we quickly had a peak in the “Club InterContinental”. Very beautiful. All day snacks on offer and drinks!

After that was the most anticipated moment of the day for the kids! The POOL! Located on the 4th floor we spent the following 3 hours there! Jumping from the children’s splash pool, to the spa pools (with views of the creek/city) & the big swimming pool!


The pool was really nice and they had some great shallow type areas for the kids to safely play. The only thing I didn’t like were these ring barriers (which just so happened to be Ruby & Nate’s favorite thing to play with) that they rolled themselves over into the deep end. It would be nice to totally section off a small area for the kids so they can’t get into the deep end. Ruby is a great swimmer, but I still get worried about Nate.


The pool loungers were clean and plenty available for guests to laze about on. Let me quickly add how I really appreciated the fact that they had sunscreen on each side table (I ALWAYS forget to pack this for the kids) + call bell! Seeing as I am picky about sheets, that also means I am picky about towels. The pool towels were soft and a nice shade of crisp white with blue piping. All in great shape. Nothing worse than getting a ratty old towel right?


After an hour in the pool, the kids were thirsty AND hungry! We tried some mocktails. Really nice! And the kids split a chicken nugget and french fry meal (dinner was literally 1.5 hours away!). They gobbled up the food, which is a good sign because they are generally very picky eaters.


At about 6:30pm we decided to call it a day and head back into the hotel. Ruby needed a pee break, two minutes later Nate needed one too! I took them into the changing rooms located opposite of the gym. After doing their business, they had fun drying each other’s hair. I had to hurry them along as they would have wanted to try out the sauna and steam room too! Kids will be kids!


From there, I shuffled the kids along to the elevator but they could not resist having a look at the lights inside the spa. They were beautiful, that’s for sure! Gorgeously strung fairy lights…they resembled fireflies at nighttime. Can’t comment on the spa as I did not try any of the services. They say never judge a book by it’s cover, but judging by the entrance I imagine it to be very nice!

Alright, finally back up in our suite. Bubble bath time! This was so much fun the kids I could barely get them out of the bath in time for our dinner reservation for 7pm.


Back downstairs on level “L” we dined at “Anise”. Prior to being seated, I had to bribe the kids to go inside the restaurant because their eyes were fixated on the macarons from Choix Pattiserie. I told them Anise would most likely have macarons for dessert (thank goodness they did!).


If I could have picked where to have dinner myself, I would have chose “Raflets Par Pierre Gagnier” (a michelin star chef) but let’s be honest, with kids? Not going to happen! Anise was really nice though, no complaints. 8 different live cooking stations, buffet style food and decent kids menu. I took SO many pictures of food, I can’t quite possibly share them all…


So to give you an idea of the cooking stations they had: Chinese noodle soup, Korean BBQ, Sushi, Indian, Arabic, Western, dim sum & desserts! I am on a super strict diet and had to be careful with what I ate. The soft-shell crab was AMAZING I had to control myself, I also liked the fresh sashimi and dim sum! My husband sampled EVERYTHING haha. From steak, to mixed grill and more! The service from the staff was spot on. I liked that they were attentive to when our plates were finished + they brought out any order that was placed at the cooking station quickly.

The kids were kept entertained with coloring books and crayons. For dessert they indulged in gummies and ice cream! Oh and for dinner…because they like to eat things backwards when on holiday…they ordered pizza! I know, my kids are so healthy, right? Who cares, we were on “vacation”!

FYI…On Tuesdays the theme is “Taste of Asia”, Wednesday “Street Food Festival”, Thursday “United Flavors of Anise”. Friday brunch “Seafood Indulgence” & Saturday brunch “Tastes of the World”.


For the first time ever I didn’t overdo it at a buffet (although it was hard, believe me). Which meant it was not a major task for me to walk back to the elevator and then to my room. Usually it would be a waddle!

If I didn’t have my kids with me, I would be going for a nice (strong) cocktail post meal…They have a champagne bar & terrace bar wahhhh!

We had a surprise waiting for us inside our room! Edible chocolate suitcases for the kids, filled with jelly beans + sweets. And no they did not forget about Mom & Dad! How considerate (who ever thinks of parents these days) we had a pretty chocolate work of art (I nibbled on a few and they were delish). Yes the kids truly had it in them that they were indeed VIK’s! That was really fun!


Even though they did eat some candy before bed (usually that’s a big no, no right?) they still managed to crash out ASAP. They were toast! Might I suggest the next time (for other parents who may not be as chilled out as me) to leave the chocolate suitcases as surprise upon arrival (ie. mid afternoon)? Just an idea!

I woke up a few times in the night, only to relish in the fact that I felt like a celebrity in my beautiful, big room. I didn’t want Saturday morning to arrive, because that meant we had to go home! Saturday sure DID arrive and we all slept in until after 8AM. I quickly packed up some of our belongings (mainly Ruby’s doll clothes that took up half the room!) and got everyone changed into their bathing suits and clothing. We were then ready for breakfast!

We went back down to Anise. I can’t decide what was better, dinner or breakfast? The selection of food was just as wonderful. Only complaint is that the coloring books they gave the kids this time around were from Easter. Would be nice to have some more updated versions (perhaps they ran out?)


I equally enjoyed looking at the restaurant in daylight just as I did the night before. The interior design is beautiful. They have all these little areas ie, one that resembles being in a woodland forest, another with a bubbly wall (which Nate was SO drawn to) and these unusual design features coming out of the ceiling. It is very contemporary, fresh and inviting.


What did I have for breakfast? A lil’ Mexicano and Japanese! Rancheros & Miso soup! Oh and some Asian noodles and a platter of fruit! The kids had manakish and chocolate milk! And I think Nate stuffed his pockets full of Nutella. Every time I looked over at him, he was eating a new packet of Nutella…yikes…I am an awful Mom! Just kidding!

After breakfast I was dying to see what the Club had on offer. It was BEAUTIFUL! Then I thought, gosh we should have gone there for breakfast! Isn’t it pretty?


Back at the pool we swam for an hour and then it was time to get ready for our 12pm check out. The kids had fun swinging on these dangling egg chairs behind the lobby while I sorted out things with reception and waited for our car to arrive from valet. Nate exclaimed how we needed chairs like these in our house, I totally agreed and then retracted my words because who am i kidding? It would be a mad zoo with the kids swinging from them at our home!


Papers were signed, bags were in the trunk, car was waiting…it was time to wave goodbye! Until next time!

And then…the words I was hoping we would not hear before going home! Can we PLEASE go to Toys R US AND Build A Bear?

To make a reservation you can visit InterContinental {HERE}


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