Flying long haul on Emirates Airlines? Got a long layover in Dubai? Get some zzzz’s at the transit hotel in Dubai Airport.
That’s what we did when flying Emirates Airlines in Economy Class to and from Seattle and Africa via Dubai.
Layover at the transit hotel in Dubai Airport
Both ways, we stayed overnight at the Dubai Airport Hotel (also called the Dubai International Airport Hotel) to break up the long trip.
The hotel is a transit hotel in Dubai Airport, Terminal 3.
We didn’t have the luxury of a private First Class suite on our flights. Nor could we shower onboard (which First Class passengers can do on several long-haul Emirates Airlines A380 planes).
But at least we got a proper night’s sleep in a decent hotel mid-way through our flight journey.
And because the Dubai Airport transit hotel is located within the airport’s security gates, we didn’t have to go through security again for our onward flight.
Hotel staff even met us right at the plane to escort us quickly to the hotel.
Dubai transit hotel – brilliant!
All Emirates’ flights from North America (e.g., Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto) to Africa or Asia stop in Dubai, its hub.
Dubai is one of the seven kingdoms making up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Emirates Airlines, the Dubai airport and the transit hotel in the Dubai airport are all owned by the Dubai government.
Surprisingly, there’s enough to see and do to justify spending seven days in Dubai. And in future, we’d like to spend more than just an overnight in Dubai.
But if you don’t have the time to visit properly, Dubai at least makes for a great stopover to get some sleep.
You have many options when booking your flights through Dubai. From Seattle, we could have flown all the way to Africa with an approximate 3-hour layover in Dubai; the same was true for our return flight.
But for about the same ticket price, we could overnight in the Dubai Airport transit hotel before our onward journey. This was a very attractive option for us – just an extra $200 to $250 USD a night for the hotel, and a nice treat to ourselves. (And way cheaper than a Business Class seat with a lie-flat bed.)
Both ways, we arrived in Dubai in the evening (local time), and our onward flights left the next morning about 9:30 am.
What’s special about a transit hotel?
A transit hotel is super convenient.
Normally you have to go through security on an international layover to overnight in a hotel. But the Emirates stopover hotel is right inside security – a true transit hotel.
Transit hotels are found in busy transfer hubs like Singapore’s Changi Airport and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
When you stay at a transit hotel, you don’t have to throw out liquids and go through security again when you board your next flight.
At the transit hotel at Dubai Airport, you simply walk direct from your room to your departure gate, getting there the required 30+ minutes before boarding begins. (So for a 9:30 am departure, you can sleep until 8:00 am.)
Need to know (Dubai Airport transit tips)
- Because this is a Dubai Airport transit hotel – within security – you cannot collect your checked luggage (or you’ll exit security and not be able to get to the hotel). Your checked bags should be checked through to your final destination. (They’re automatically stored during your overnight layover in Dubai.)
- Be sure you have what you need for your hotel stay in your carry-on bag!
Location of this Dubai Airport Hotel
The hotel is found in Terminal 3 of Dubai Airport.
There are three concourses (A, B and C) in Terminal 3, and the hotel rooms take up the top two floors of each concourse.
Each concourse has its own hotel reception – so it’s like three separate hotels.
The hotel rooms are just above the flight departure gates; a thick glass wall is between the room corridors and gates below, so rooms are well sound-proofed. Each of the three hotels has its own spa and small swimming pool with hot tub.
Is one concourse nicer than the other?
Not really. We stayed in two different concourses, and while the room décor and color scheme differed between the two, they were much the same otherwise.
The hotel is considered 5-star.
Most important are the beds – comfortable, with cool white linens and duvets. (Note: The lower-category room type we booked offered one queen bed or two twin beds, not a king-size bed.) You’ll find toothbrushes, hand lotion, shaving gear, etc. in the bathroom (useful in case you don’t have those with you in your carry-on bag). Air conditioning is strong and quiet.
For an airport hotel, this Emirates airport hotel is great, but it’s not as luxurious as you’d want for a 5-star city hotel or resort. (The hotel is very busy, so there’s a lot of turnover and that translates into some “wear and tear.”)
Despite arriving at night (early in the wee hours for the second stay), we were processed extremely quickly. Hotel reception staff are adept at getting you to your room in record time.
Tips for booking the Emirates transit hotel
Email in advance:
The Dubai International Airport Hotel says it aims to meet all guests at the plane, but it can’t promise this. We emailed the hotel in advance, asking for a staff member to please meet us at the plane – and and we were met both times. (Really nice!)
Ask for Concourse B:
Dubai’s airport is MASSIVE, and it keeps on expanding because there’s so much wide open flat land (desert) around. (It’s the second largest building in the world by floor space.) Terminal 3 is dedicated to Emirates flights only, and there are three huge concourses or buildings (A, B and C) in Terminal 3 alone.
Ideally, you’d book your overnight hotel room in the concourse where your flight departs the next morning. But the Emirates departure gates may change from day to day.
Your best bet is probably to book in the middle in Concourse B.
For more information, see the transit hotel’s website.
You may, however, find better rates booking here through Booking.com.
We paid the full regular hotel rate for our Emirates overnight layer, and we haven’t been paid to write this review.
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Photos courtesy of the Dubai International Airport Hotel, except where noted
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.