Think of Dubai and you might well think of shimmering skyscrapers, bling-drenched luxury hotels and eye-wateringly expensive cocktails.
The darling of the Instagram and TikTok crowd posing on the beach or by the infinity pool, it can often be overlooked as a family-friendly destination.
But the opening of a new Legoland Hotel in the emirate to the UK market is about to change all that – as I found out on a visit with my son Quinn, aged seven.
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Part of Legoland Dubai Theme Park, the eye-popping four-star hotel is home to 2,146 Lego models made from 4.5 million Lego bricks.
It is located just 130 ‘kiddy’ steps from the Legoland water and theme parks and also has its own child-friendly swimming pool.
Of course, some of the major appeals of Dubai are its guaranteed winter sunshine and a relatively short seven-hour flight from the UK.
Legoland is handily a comfortable 40-minute drive from the airport, halfway between Dubai and neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi (it’s similarly easily accessible from the airport there too).
From the moment you walk into its impressive brick-filled lobby, it is clear that this is a place built with kids in mind.
The check-in desks are at child height and a Lego play pit in the lobby keeps the little ones occupied while parents get room cards.
Those 250 rooms are decorated in one of five different Lego themes – Pirate, Adventure, Lego Friends, Ninjago and Kingdom and they all boast a separate sleeping area for kids and a king-sized bed for adults.
They also feature a teasing treasure hunt, with a series of fun clues needed to crack the code for the goodie-filled safe.
Parents will know that one of the most stressful parts of the day on a holiday can be meal times, especially when eating out in public.
But Dubai’s Legoland has that nicely taken care of. Youngsters are encouraged to fend for themselves at the child-friendly buffet, which features a selection of Western and Middle Eastern fare.
Crayons are provided so they can colour in their tablecloths, while their meals come on easy-to-carry plastic plates.
And when us parents look to unwind, the hotel’s smart Skyline Lounge offers an extensive range of alcoholic drinks.
Youngsters are kept occupied by a multi-level pirate ship soft-play and arcade games including air hockey.
If that wasn’t enough (and in Dubai ‘enough’ is barely a concept!) there are also creative workshops run by the hotel where Lego fans are given building tips.
The Master Model Builder Sessions are free for young guests and can be booked at reception.
Of course, with winter temperatures in the mid-20s, British travellers are naturally tempted outside. The hotel’s pool, open from 9am-6pm, features cabanas, sunloungers and a splash pad for little adventurers.
In keeping with the child-friendly theme, the warm pool was never above head-height for my seven-year-old and there’s also a team of lifeguards stationed poolside to make sure everyone is safe.
Guests staying one night at the hotel get free entry into either the Legoland water park or theme park, while visitors staying two nights receive access to both.
A three-night or longer booking also covers all the other parks within Dubai Parks and Resorts such as Motiongate and Bollywood.
The water park was a huge hit with Quinn and is designed with the Dubai heat in mind as giant screens and sails and lush vegetation mean visitors are rarely in the direct sunlight.
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It features 20 themed water slides and attractions, including splash areas for toddlers and the highlights include the Lazy River, Tidal Tube, Slide Racers and the giant wave pool.
Our favourite was the Splash ’n’ Swirl, where riders can choose to career down the slide in solo or double tubes.
Back on dry land, the neighbouring theme park is situated around an air-conditioned ‘Mini-land’ dome.
Inside is a fabulous display of brick-built Dubai landmarks, including the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the world’s tallest building.
Other displays include a miniature version of Dubai airport, complete with moving planes. The dome is surrounded by six themed lands, offering 40 interactive rides.
In Lego City, youngsters can fly their own aeroplane, navigate a boat and even pass their own driving test.
Thrill-seekers will love the Dragon rollercoaster, while in Imagination you can build and race your own Lego cars.
If you need to put your feet up, head to the Lego Studios 4D cinema, which shows exclusive park-only movies. Each guest is given a pair of 4D glasses, and be warned – you will get wet!
The theme and water parks, which opened five years ago, are aimed at kids aged from two to 12. Quinn and I loved them, and the hotel.
This is one yellow, red, blue, green, white and black brick road to follow. Happy kids, happy parents.
Book the holiday
Travel Republic offers a five night B&B half-term stay for a family of four at the Legoland Hotel in Dubai from £3,936, with Emirates flights from Heathrow on February 12 and free park access; Manchester departure from £3,894. Find out more at travelrepublic.co.uk.
Access to Heathrow Terminal 3 Club Aspire Lounge for a family of four from £34.99. Find out more at holidayextras.com.
You can also get more information at visitdubai.com and legoland.com/dubai.
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