Our Late Night Las Vegas Experience In Dubai

Filed Under: Emirates

As I mentioned previously, I’m currently on a trip with one of my best friends, Matt. We’re planning the trip day-by-day, which means I’ll be writing the trip report more or less live. Matt will be sharing his thoughts as we go along as well — here’s his third installment.

After indulging in seven course tea at the Burj al Arab, Ben and I headed back to the Park Hyatt Dubai to try to get some sleep before our relatively early 7:20 am departure on EK17 to Manchester.  That started off swimmingly, but we were both wide awake about two hours later.  Fortunately, Ben had also just received good news from his family, which meant our trip could continue for the duration initially planned.

We proceeded to spout off potential destinations and airlines for a few hours until we ultimately decided on our post-Manchester destinations (which will remain nameless for now).  At this point, it was around midnight.  The morning call to prayer was happening in under five hours and we had barely slept.  Any self-respecting person would have gone to bed.  We had a better idea.  The Emirates lounges at Dubai Airport are operated around the clock, so it only made sense to go straight to DXB and enjoy the Dubai Mall @ DXB EK lounges!


The Business/First check-in hall is massive, and it was totally devoid of any human life except a handful of Emirates agents.  After rolling our 75 pound Tumi Alpha Internationals all the way to immigration — which is in all honesty at least a quarter mile, I was a little concerned when the immigration agent noticed I had no entry stamp in my passport.  Who knows why.  I went through customs on arrival — scout’s honor!  He flipped through it at least 4 times, page by page, looking for the stamp.  Then proceeded to say something (to himself, I guess), and then stamped my passport with an exit stamp.  Crisis averted, thankfully.  An efficient and unobtrusive pass through security was next, and then a tram ride to Terminal A.  We were actually departing from the Terminal B concourse, but Ben assured me the Terminal A lounge was not to be missed.  It was certainly something!

It looks an awful lot like the high limit area of a Las Vegas casino.  Right???


This is not even a lounge; it’s actually an entire floor of the terminal.  It even has its own duty free.  It was like a visit to Aria or Mirage in Las Vegas.  I haven’t been to Las Vegas in a while, and I was in Dubai, so I was fairly happy with the Vegas style bling.  And the fact that it was like Aria was fine — you can use and earn Hyatt Gold Passport points there.  To be sure, the Cathay Pacific Wing in Hong Kong is definitely more intimate and well appointed, but the lounge was nice and new, so I had no complaints.



Where the lounge really excelled was the food.  There is quite literally unlimited seating in the lounge.  I would guess there’s greater than 2,000 seats for what I imagine is never more than 200-300 passengers (and that’s being liberal).  We decided to dine in one of the larger restaurants, which offers a full buffet as well as a very expansive menu.  There were less than a handful of people there, staff aside.



We started with flat (for me) and sparkling (for Ben) water as well as a glass of the white bordeaux they were pouring.  The wine was excellent.  Emirates serves Voss water on the ground and in the air.  It was so refreshing both because I was parched and because the bottle was one sleekest things in the entire airport.

To start, I had the octopus carpaccio.  It was absolutely as good as other octopus dishes I’ve had at many of my favorite restaurants.  And the presentation was excellent as well.


Ben and I both had the curry cashew chicken next.  The presentation was wonderful.  Sadly, it was a look but don’t touch type of thing.  The dish was flavorless.  Both the chicken and the naan it was served with had a slightly odd, almost sterile smell too.  Major fail, for lack of better description.  And I love curry.  We both tried our hardest to make it look like we ate a little.  Playing the old move it around on the plate trick seemed to work.  Or maybe they just don’t say anything to first class customers when they don’t finish their meals? Hmm..


Worry not.  After a turbulent main course, Emirates was back on track with dessert.  I ordered a sesame nougatine with jasmine rice sorbet and strawberry compote.  It was one of the best desserts I have ever enjoyed.  Anywhere.  And I highly doubt my feelings were sleep induced.  Overall, the Terminal A first mall lounge lacks intimacy, and certainly has a Las Vegas feel, but it’s new and the food offerings are quite excellent.  Not my favorite lounge ever, I don’t think, but I would say that it has some of the best food of any lounge I’ve visited.


Just so that everyone is aware, Ben and I were of course paid full fare Z class passengers.  We parted with a full $28.20 plus $12.50 partner booking fee for our flight experience, so we were obviously balling on the same budget as most people that frequent the first class mall-terminal-lounge.  Just like them, we drink Chivas Regal Royal Salute Tribute to Honour.  This is apparently such an attraction that the security guard in the duty free section of the lounge called us over to see it.

Apparently named after the oldest of the crown jewels from Scotland, the bottle on display and for purchase was number 15 of only 21 bottles.  None of the scotch blended into it is less than 45 years old — which is a little older than me but not really all that old for scotch.  Anyway, it only costs $200,000, so if you need a gift for your niece or housekeeper it’s probably the way to go.  Just don’t try to take it through airport security or else you’ll end up like this woman.  Not even I would go there.  #alcoholic



Having been sufficiently humbled, we took the train to Terminal B.  The lounge in this terminal had the appearance of a more traditional lounge.  Inside, it was basically a terminal again.  But unlike the Terminal A lounge, it showed signs of age.




If the Terminal A first lounge was Aria or the Mirage, we had just arrived at the Tropicana.  The lounge was just tired, more so than us even.  Having had only two hours of sleep, it’s unclear how that was possible, but it was.


The food offerings, however, were once again incredible.  The buffet set ups included a number of cheese, terrines of foie gras, smoked balik salmon, charcuterie, sandwiches, cheeses, and my favorite offering — a proper sushi bar!  Yum!




The lounge also had a number of showers.  The shower facilities were fine.  But only fine.  And that isn’t really what airlines ought to go for when it comes to their hub international first class ground products.



The biggest problem was that the shower rooms were only made to shower in.  There was no sink or mirror that would allow one to really get ready in the showers.  Thus, you have to finish showering, towel off in a steamy (and not in a sexual way) shower room, dress yourself (while in sauna), and use the sinks and mirror in the common area (pictured above).  This isn’t actually a huge problem in my opinion, but it’s a nuisance, and one shouldn’t be annoyed when flying first class.

For the kids whose parents book them Emirates first.  Congratulations!  You will probably never need to work.  Also exciting is the fact that you can play Sonic All Star Racing in the lounge.  Ben and I may or may not have played a round, and Ben may or may not have beaten me.


Both Terminal A and B have a Timeless Spa.  Emirates offers its first class customers a free 15 minute chair massage, acupressure foot massage, Indian head massage, and Thai massage/stretch.  In Terminal A, Ben and I had chair massages.  We figured they would let us get a second treatment in Terminal B.  Not so.  After telling the agent we’d like the acupressure foot massage, we were told that we had used our free treatment and were invited to pay for the service if we still wished to have it. We decided to go for it, because feet need loving too.


The massage was very good, and well worth the ~$28 charge.  After the massage we decided to head to the gate for boarding, because my Emirates iPhone app indicated it was time to do so.  We were then told at the Business / First upstairs gate that boarding had not yet commenced, but that it was scheduled to go out on time in approximately 20 minutes.  After some confusion, which resulted in us being called off the jet bridge when we had just thought we were walking on, we boarded and were greeted by the very warm staff from the UK and Slovakia.  We had endured the worst of it.  The Tropicana was finally behind us.  Emirates round two!  My review of EK17 is coming soon.

  1. Hate to disagree, but the shower setup in Terminal B is horrible. You mention that it’s inconvenient, that doesn’t do it justice. I’ve never been mad after an airport shower, but after my experience there I was so angry the attendant wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Small, no ventilation, poorly designed, certainly NOT fine or adequate for a first class lounge. Please don’t sugarcoat your reviews. People use trip reports to make decisions as to how they are going to spend their money and points and need to know where to go and where not to.

  2. One Word comes to mind when I walk through the Dubai airport – BLING!!! Feels like I am in another World. Fascinating. Looking forward to returning to the UAE next month. My new home away from home. Great report Matt!!

  3. So do all First Class passengers get access to the A terminal lounge even if they aren’t on the A380? Good to know.

  4. @wwk5d — You have access to all terminals after clearing security, and EK doesn’t base lounge access on the departure terminal, so yes you can go to A lounge when departing from B terminal. I recommend it. It’s only about a 10 minute walk/train ride.

    @Tom — You’ll get Dom Perignon on the ground ex-DXB, and Moet from the US. Moreover, although the A lounge isn’t awesome, it’s better than the outpost lounges EK operates (which are joint F/J). So maybe DXB? You’re fine either way!

    @Owen — They fly A380s out of both terminals. EK17 is an A380.

  5. I guess nameless only on the blog, but not on Twitter/Instagram (“We proceeded to spout off potential destinations and airlines for a few hours until we ultimately decided on our post-Manchester destinations (which will remain nameless for now)”)

  6. Did you have to pay for the Sonic Video game? Or was it free?

    I must say it would be messed up if you still had to pay for the video game in a lounge for first class.

  7. Loving your trip report. Next month I’m flying solo DFW-DXB with a 3 day stopover, then on to BCN – all on Emirates a380 First, thanks to many of the tips from this blog! I’m curious… how many hours before departure can a passenger check in and access the lounge in DXB?

  8. @Eric. If you base where to go on a trip based on an airport shower, you need to get a grip on your ego.

  9. I must admit I scratch my head when airlines put showers in their lounges, but fail to give them adequete ventilation or drainage, making them a rather pointless activity (you go in as sweaty and rumpled as you go out). I can shower at home, in my modest shower, without such problems (ditto gyms, hotel rooms, etc) but airport lounge showers generally tend to have these types of problems (even in First lounges).

    So thanks for the intel @Francisco C, that the EK Terminal A lounge showers are one of the better ones at DXB.

  10. Wow very unimpressed with that Terminal B lounge experience, sounds exactly like the setup at the Virgin Euston lounge in London a decade ago, although they managed to throw the shower mainly running cold but the room being like a sauna into the mix!

    Do you know if those travelling in Qantas F (with Oneworld Emerald FWIW) have access to the Terminal A lounge when in transit? Have a MEL-DXB-LHR trip and based on this much prefer the sound of using that setup!

  11. @ Julie — Presumably you should be able to check in within 12 hours or so and use the lounge really early, if you were so inclined. But I don’t think it’s worth arriving that early, personally.

  12. Good trip reports so far Matt, although, as a whisky drinking Scotsman I have to correct and say a 45yo Single Malt, or Blend for that matter, is reasonably rare and would be pretty expensive.

    Enjoy the rest of the trip, and if you’re back on Emirates, try the 21yo Glenfiddich. Goes very well with a creme brûlée!

  13. still trying to figure out this statement “It looks an awful lot like the high limit area of a Las Vegas casino. Right???”

    — I’ve spent a decent amount of time in high limit rooms. I “guess” the Mansion High Limit area at MGM is pretty large, but most are not that large (or depending on the casino there are 2, 3 or 4 high limit areas…) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE high limit rooms… it’s just that most are rather intimate, even if intimate in a rather gaudy way. Though, for fun, “high-limit” rooms at rather “low-brow” casinos can be super fun. Heck, I even got them to serve me (comp, of course) Dom Pérignon while playing at the “the D” casino on Fremont street in Downtown Vegas.

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