Shopping, spas and super supperclubs are the recipe for a perfect girlie weekend in Dubai, says Catherine Wylie

AS I look up at the beautiful mosaic ceiling, I sigh indulgently as the masseuse pours silky suds all over my freshly exfoliated skin. I'm having my first ever Turkish hammam and I like it, a lot.

In Dubai, where historical landmarks are in short supply, the spa takes centre stage as part of the daytime activities in a girls' getaway.

I've come to the emirate with a group of friends. We arrive feeling remarkably alert after a flight with Royal Brunei; the airline's Dreamliner service uses a special climate control system which circulates more oxygen, which means fewer headaches - and LED lighting to help passengers seamlessly adjust to different time zones.

Almost immediately, I discover the stories I've heard about Dubai's luxury are true. Home to the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, this is a destination that takes both customer service and grandeur very seriously.

But I also learn that a lot of the preconceptions people have about supposedly strict laws in this man-made city aren't entirely accurate.

In fact, I find the blissfully serene experience at the Talise Ottoman Spa in the gold-encrusted Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel on the Palm Island, to be the calm before the hedonistic storm.

On arrival at the hotel we are instantly made to feel like VIPs. My room has a view across the sea, and in the bathroom there's a marble tub that would easily fit four people, and a gold sink. The ultimate display of tailored luxury is the dressing gown folded on my bed which has my name sewn on.

Mornings are spent taking a dip in a pool lined with palm trees, followed by a stroll along the private beach in front of the hotel.

In pursuit of memorable eats, we book into the Friday brunch at the hotel's Imperium restaurant.

Lebanese dishes, sushi, trays of roast meat, oysters, pies, breads and a whole lot more take pride of place on beautifully decorated tables in a huge dining room lit by chandeliers. Next, we get a taste of what it's like to stay in the city itself, moving into the Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

From my bed, I have the pleasure of looking out at the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

It's time for some retail therapy, involving some mooching around the mall or the souks. I come away with a cerise pink pashmina and a very cool handbag.

For the more traditional side of Dubai, we go on a Platinum Heritage desert safari, travelling in an open-top vintage Land Rover through the Arabian sands.

Next it’s a a helicopter flight. From my bird's eye view, I can confirm that The Palm really is shaped like a palm tree, and the Burj Khalifa sparkles just as much from above.

It’s time to sample the nightlife. But we're all stumped about what we should wear.

Demure dresses and strictly no cleavage, is the order of the night.

However, when we arrive at the exclusive supperclub restaurant and club, we encounter a liberalism which we weren't expecting. Sparkling wine and cocktails flow, and women wear tight dresses that show more than just a little thigh.

Travelbag (travel; 0845 543 6615) offers two nights at the five-star Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on The Palm (half-board) and two nights at the five-star Jumeirah Emirates Towers (half-board) from £779 pp, including direct flights with Royal Brunei from London Heathrow. Book by June 30 for travel in July.