Just moments away from three of Dubai’s top tourist attractions – Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall – Manzil Downtown is in the heart of the city’s very popular Downtown area. The Arabesque design blends perfectly with the surrounding Old Town residential district which, despite its name, is home to sought-after modern apartments. This small traditionally-styled district, with its winding alleyways and lantern-like street lighting, provides a welcome contrast to the ultra-modern mall and skyscrapers nearby.
The hotel’s prime location is complemented by a great guest experience. A plethora of doormen greet you with smiles after the short journey from the airport. The hotel lobby is welcoming, small enough to feel intimate yet undoubtedly oozing the glamour you’d expect from a top class Dubai hotel.
After a warm welcome from the front desk and a welcome early check-in, we were very happy to see our deluxe room. The 32-square metre sleek and contemporary room is the entry level accommodation but has ample space for two people to spread out and relax – and one child under 12 is welcome to share the room with parents. There is a desk area, armchair, comfortable king-sized bed and amenities such as a minibar, tea and coffee making facilities, and flat screen internet protocol TV. The bathroom is large with twin vanities, separate shower and bath tub, and toilet cubicle. All guest rooms at Manzil Downtown have a balcony and ours overlooked Old Town, with a sideways view of Burj Khalifa.
The pool area is fringed with palm trees and helpfully sits on the second floor so that you have a great view of the surrounding district but also catch any breeze. There’s a gym with cardio equipment and a range of weights machines and dumbbells; it’s open 24 hours a day which is perfect for jet-lagged guests.
We ate several times in the Boulevard Kitchen restaurant which serves a delicious array of Middle Eastern dishes as well as healthy salads and sinful desserts. The outdoor Courtyard restaurant was another favourite, its peaceful ambience and soft lighting at night make it an ideal place not only to eat but to enjoy shisha and tea for the evening.
Close to the airport and steps from top tourist attractions as well as an abundance of restaurants, Manzil Downtown is in the perfect location for a stopover break in Dubai.
A new hotel in the up-and-coming Dubai Water Canal district in Business Bay, the Raddison Blu Dubai Waterfront is an excellent choice for both business and leisure travellers.
We stayed in a deluxe room with a large balcony and a view of the canal and Burj Khalifa. The room was a great place to relax with two easy chairs for lounging, a large bathroom with separate shower and bathtub, and all the in-room amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel – mini bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, international TV channels, free highspeed wifi and a comfortable bed with top-quality linens.
We dined at the outdoor terrace of Fire Lake Grill House and Cocktail Bar which offered a wide range of flame-cooked top-quality seafood and meats as well as a small selection of vegetarian dishes. The setting was sublime, with the glittering towers of Business Bay and the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, providing the perfectly decadent backdrop to delicious pre-dinner cocktails.
The hotel’s affable general manager is a Scot (like us) and there are Scottish touches throughout the hotel. From the Nigerian doorman resplendent in his kilt, to the Scottish bar and the cutlery at breakfast laid out in a cross, reminiscent of the Saltire, Scotland’s flag, these little Caledonian touches give the hotel a distinct character.
The most distinctive thing about the hotel, however, is the staff. In a city packed with luxury choices and great service, Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront’s staff really do live up to the hotel’s slogan of “the friendliest 5-star hotel in Dubai”. I don’t quite know how the manager has done it – although he did personally meet each and every staff member during their recruitment process – but he has engendered a genuine warmth and friendliness throughout the hotel. With hundreds of staff from 41 countries, it’s quite an achievement and one which makes for a memorable stay.
Fairmont The Palm has all the cachet that comes from its location on prestigious Palm Jumeirah island but with the convenience of easy accessibility to the attractions of the mainland – although with ten restaurants and lounges and a plethora of things to do, you may find you don’t want to leave the resort at all.
Entrance is through a grand, high-ceiled marble lobby adorned with Arabic artworks and beautiful, extravagant flower displays. The luxurious modern guest rooms are designed to reflect the colours of sun, sea and sand and feature Arabian touches such as the geometric patterns in the headboards and intricate detailing on the lamps.
We stayed in a 48-sq.-metre deluxe room with stunning views over the resort, the Arabian Gulf and the glittering towers of Dubai Marina in the distance. The beds were wonderfully comfortable although the pillows were a little soft. The room had a well-set-up desk area and sofa and was a great place to relax after a busy day. The best feature of all was the large balcony with table and chairs and a chaise longue – a perfect place to have a drink and admire the view before heading to one of the hotel’s excellent restaurants. Particularly worth visiting is Little Miss India, one of the finest Indian restaurants in town. The excellent food is prepared in an open kitchen and served by knowledgeable and helpful staff.
As well as five outdoor pools, the hotel has a well-equipped gym and offers daily fitness classes, beach volleyball, beach football, watersports and a range of other activities. From the fitness fanatic to someone who just wants to be a little healthier on holiday, everybody will find something to get them moving. As a contrast, the Willow Spa offers top-class treatments in a refined and utterly serene environment that will leave you blissfully relaxed.
Fairmont The Palm is the perfect hotel for a relaxing beach holiday on the Palm, safe in the knowledge that Dubai Marina and the rest of Dubai’s attractions are only a taxi ride away.
Being greeted by name on arrival at any hotel is a perfect start and so it was at the Fairmont Dubai’s Gold Club lounge. Immaculately attired staff welcomed us and offered drinks during our short check-in procedure before showing us to our suite.
The bright and airy Fairmont Gold one-bedroom suite felt more like an apartment than a mere hotel room. Despite including a dining table for four, a well-situated desk with extremely comfortable high backed leather chair, tea/coffee making area and a full-size sofa opposite the wide-screen TV, the sitting room felt very spacious. The hotel had asked our preferences in advance and there was also a beautiful spread of cut fruit, mineral water and the most delicious macarons imaginable.
The bedroom had a wonderfully snug king bed, ample storage space and a chaise longue, ideal for lazing on to watch the bedroom TV or to browse a magazine.
At the lofty height of the 33rd floor, the large Gold Club lounge affords fantastic views and attentive service and includes all-day soft beverages, afternoon tea and a generous 3-hour serving of evening cocktails, as well as 24-hour access. It’s a perfect spot to escape your room (if you really want to!) and work, or relax in between outings exploring Dubai.
Breakfast is taken in Cascades restaurant on the ground floor which offers an appetising array of international and Arabic dishes and subdued mood lighting that make for a relaxing start to the day. Our dinner was at the ‘Best Steakhouse in Dubai’ according to Time Out magazine, The Exchange Grill. Everything about the meal was perfect, from the sublime ribeye steak to the very knowledgeable staff, excellent wine list and funky décor. The restaurant also has a well-thought-out and high-quality vegetarian selection; unusually, the vegetarian options here are much more than a mere afterthought.
The hotel has a unique and striking architectural design, inspired by the traditional wind towers of the region. It’s essentially two towers connected through a soaring central atrium and the glass elevators provide stunning views as they race up the interior of the building. The design allows for a one-of-a-kind pool experience too. The Fairmont Dubai has ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ pools, one on either side of the hotel, allowing for one to be completely in shade while the other has full sunshine — guests can take their pick of toasting in the strong sun or relaxing in the shade.
The Fairmont Dubai is a long standing icon of the city, positioned at the beginning of the famous Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s a stone’s throw from the financial district and the convention centre while being only ten minutes from three of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain. It’s also within easy reach of the local beaches and of Dubai Creek, in the heart of fascinating old Dubai and only 15 minutes from the airport so perfect for stopovers. There’s also a metro station right outside the front entrance. We had wanted to stay at this hotel for many years; it was well worth waiting for.