• Service is second to none • Spending a day at the pool is a real pleasure • The places to eat are very special
Location: Most Dubaians know Raffles and the Wafi complex well, it has long been on the map in Oud Metha. It has good metro links, if, like us, you don’t mind using public transport, and is so much of a landmark that you can’t miss it. It’s a pyramid with an illuminated peak after all. Character: Wafi is an Egyptian-themed part of town, and the hotel, as we’ve said above is in the shape of a pyramid. There’s Asian style and Egyptian influence inside too – when we stepped inside we were wowed by the grandeur of the lobby. The pool area and gardens are a real surprise when you find them too – there’s no hint at such beauty and size when you’re on the street below. This is a hotel of real warmth and character – in the rooms, the public areas and in the staff.
Service: The staff at Raffles are extremely warm and friendly. They seem genuinely interested in the wellbeing of every guest and make a huge effort to make sure each stay is personalised. There is no difference in attitude between any member of staff – perhaps the best service we’ve experienced in the region. Rooms: Just like with the initial impression of the hotel, the rooms at Raffles are warm and welcoming. At first glance they might seem a little out of time, but that’s surely on purpose. They have a real sense of history, right down to the Egyptian art. Don’t be fooled though, the rooms have as many modern twists as its newer rivals. Balconies are huge with comfortable loungers and are a perfect place to relax and gaze over the Dubai skyline. The bathrooms are big and luxurious, with the sunken bathtub particularly impressive. There’s also Wi-Fi, excellent entertainment facilities and everything is controlled by an iPad. Restaurants & bars: Let’s start at the top with People by Crystal, which occupies the top two floors. The Time Out award-winning club has 360-degree views of Dubai and is one of the places to be seen in the city. Underneath the club is Tomo, a fantastic Japanese restaurant with a stunning terrace for dining and a separate one for its bar. Also in the hotel is Solo Bistronomia & Bar, which won Best Newcomer at the Time Out Dubai 2015 Restaurant Awards. All-day dining restaurant Azur is the place for breakfast, with a good array of Arabic dishes as well as European food. There’s also a brunch at Azur and an innovative afternoon tea at Raffles Salon in the lobby. Drinks are available by the pool, which has a swim-up bar (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a swim-up bar?), and in Crossroads, which has a terrace overlooking the impressive garden and is one of Dubai nightlife’s best-kept secrets.
Facilities: A butler service is available, there’s a library and there are activities for kids. These are just three of the many things on offer. The hotel’s spa, with separate male and female areas and salons, is a real sanctuary. Treatments include a gold facial and other extravagant treatments and rituals, but we chose a simple, but very effective, aromatherapy massage. The gym is well-appointed and has a trainer on hand should you need any help or pointers.
Activities: There are the award-winning restaurants and bars sure, and the excellent pool, but perhaps the coolest thing of all is the Raffles Cinema. You can pick a movie for you, your family and friends, or just for the kids, in the nine-seat screen in the hotel.