Great service and facilities, expensive and rooms are tired
In short, superb service, fantastic facilities in the hotel and the wider complex, great for families, expensive food and drink that's only sometimes worth it, and the rooms are a bit tired. I'd say this is far from being the most luxurious hotel in Dubai, and perhaps dines out a bit on its reputation when others are likely to have surpassed it, but you absolutely cannot fault the facilities on site and the service is still top notch. For families specifically, it has a lot to offer and I think it's very likely we will be back at some point.
I'd always wanted to stay at Atlantis as it had the reputation of being the best luxury family hotel in Dubai. So we spent three nights here in January 2016 at the end of a three week trip to Australia to get over jet-lag, and relax and have fun as a family (we have children aged 9 and 7). We opted for Imperial Club primarily to get a bit of extra flexibility around feeding the children.
We arrived very early in the morning after an 11 hour overnight flight from Perth, slightly unsure what to expect as we were obviously well ahead of our designated check-in time. No worries at all. We were taken to the Imperial Club lounge, and offered a complimentary breakfast while we checked-in, and then we were able to get straight into our room. It may have helped that the hotel was not full, obviously, but this was really excellent service. It helped ensure we could make the most of our relatively short stay, and made it relaxing from the very start.
We were then shown up the room, which I'm afraid to say was very disappointing, although apparently typical. The rooms are basically a bit old, the decor is tired and the technology is outdated (old Apple connector on the dock, for example). It was completely lacking in any sort of "wow" factor. We had a few issues with ours (iPod dock didn't work, iron had brown sticky stuff on the bottom, and some of it had not been cleaned properly). We complained, and these were quickly rectified and then we had an excellent housekeeping service from that point on. After that, we forgot about the room. The reality is that there is so much to do at Atlantis that you don't spent a huge amount of time in the room awake. The beds are comfortable, there is adequate space and storage, and so it wasn't really a big deal for a family holiday. However, if you expect to spend more time in the room, and less time using the other facilities, you might want to think twice.
If you're considering Atlantis, then I assume you know about the other facilities. They're extensive. We went to the Aquaventure water park on two of the three days we were there, and all four of us enjoyed it. As a hotel guest, you can charge refreshments and lockers to the room, and get towels as you need. You can get a buggy down there and back as well if you don't fancy the walk. Entry is free for hotel guests, so you can dip in and out as you like. We did the Dolphin Encounter as well, which we had pre-booked online, but they kindly refunded the discount for hotel guests after we arrived. That was a fantastic experience, and well worth it even though they charge a fortune for photos knowing full well you can't take a camera with you into the water yet will want something to remind you of the experience. We also went to the Lost Chambers Aquarium (also complimentary), which was impressive even though I'm not convinced the whole theme of a lost civilisation was really necessary or worked very well.
We had the Imperial Club Lounge breakfast one day. It was good and there was a very personal service. However, we went to Saffron for breakfast the other days, and the choice was unbelievable. Every sort of breakfast from around the world from sushi to dim sum, from "full English" to pancakes to fruit to curry to noodles to "cronuts" or a chocolate fountain and marshmallows. We also took advantage of the Imperial Club afternoon tea one day, and the evening drinks and canapés twice. It was nice, and certainly welcome to have the opportunity to get a snack without having to pay extra. They also made an effort to accommodate my wife's gluten free requirements. However, the food itself was nothing special. We ate at Ronda Locatelli one evening and were quite disappointed. They had barely half the wines on the wine list (a problem with a supplier apparently) and the food was really quite expensive for what it was. We ate lunch in Aquaventure two days and it was fairly standard fast food with pricing designed to take advantage of a captive audience. Ice creams from Bread Street Kitchen were good though.
Security was tight, wi-fi was fast and free. Bottled water in the rooms was free and they left plenty of bottles.
We weren't really sure what the weather would be like in Dubai at this time of year. During the three days we were there, it generally reached about 25C but could be quite windy so it was quite cold in Aquaventure at times and not necessarily pleasant at the pool at the hotel away from peak 11am-3pm. However, we still needed sun tan lotion, and it was obviously way nicer than at home in the UK.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay and the service and facilities were excellent. The prices and the quality of the rooms do let it down, however. On balance, I feel I have to give it four stars.