Supersizing the retail scene since the early noughties, the city’s huge shopping malls invite you to slip on your comfiest sneakers and pound the marbled walkways. With more than 1,300 stores (and counting), The Dubai Mall (800 38 224 6255) is the grande dame of the city’s shopping scene, having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and offering fashion and entertainment in epic proportions. Its luxury shopping district, Fashion Avenue, is a high-end repository of style, with multiple triple-floor stores from the likes of Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta. Break to ponder your purchase at beautiful bookstore Maison Assouline, which has menus from breakfast though to dinner.
For haute beauty buys, Perfumery & Co (a department-store sized space on the top floor of Fashion Avenue) is the place to go. It's home to a wealth of exclusive fragrances and offers private consultations for expert advice on scents, skincare and make-up.
After restocking your dressing table, click your heels together à la Dorothy and transport yourself to Level Shoes for designer heels, before loading up on even more luxury labels at anchor brands Bloomingdale’s and Galeries Lafayette Dubai.
Another power player, Mall of the Emirates (+971 4 409 9000) has a hands-free shopping service, where you can drop off your bulging bags at designated points and have them delivered to your hotel. It'll free you up to continue exploring its four floors, anchored by ‘absolutely fabulous’ department store Harvey Nichols – Dubai and the high-end Fashion Dome. Once you're all shopped out, you can settle into an outsized seat at Vox Cinema's THEATRE by Rhodes, and watch a movie while grazing on a menu of snacks created by British chef Gary Rhodes and delivered to your seat at the touch of a button.
Dubai Creek has its very own mega mall experience at Dubai Festival City (800 332), where mid-range brands rub shoulders with the Singapore-born department store Robinsons. Within it you’ll find homeware goodies from the UK’s John Lewis and a collection of exclusive fashion labels. Located on the waterfront with a dedicated promenade, take time out from browsing this mall’s 400 stores for a dhow boat ride or to watch the nightly fire, light and water show.
At the other end of the city, fronting a vibrant waterfront residential area, Dubai Marina Mall (+971 4 348 4848) is a no brainer if you’re looking to shop at a more leisurely pace. It's compact compared to the city's larger retail havens, yet is peppered with a trendy selection of high-street brands and a chilled collection of restaurants, many with outdoor terrace seating ideal for a lingering lunch overlooking the water.
The only themed mega mall in the city, Ibn Battuta Mall (+971 4 362 1900) pays architectural homage to the travels of the legendary Arab explorer of the same name with a succession of interlinked spaces reflecting global culture, from China to India. Wander through the dedicated exhibition before letting loose in the 400-plus stores, passing many a well-known high-street name.