Time Out dons its dark glasses, readies its notebook, and takes a look around the best new hotels in Dubai. You won't believe what we found.
Time Out Dubai staff
InterContinental, Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111) When: November 15 Where: Dubai Festival City Cost of the rooms: Dhs1,125 plus tax 5 star Number of rooms: 498 www.ichotelsgroup.com If you've been wondering what the towering 36-floor construction beyond the imposing new Garhoud Bridge is all about, then keep reading. If you already live in Dubai, you might not care too much about the InterContinental Dubai Festival City's panoramic views, flat screen TVs and freestanding bathtubs, so what about the French fine dining restaurant instead? Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire will be the first restaurant opened in the Middle East by the Michelin-starred pioneer of fusion food. There will also be an authentic Japanese restaurant, a Lebanese seafood joint and a Parisian Bistro, plus the vertigo-inducing Vista lounge, which - so the public relations communication claims - floats above the waterfront promenade. And that's not all: the InterContinental Residence Suites nearby will have an Italian restaurant, a delicatessen and a bar called Level 17, which will coincidentally have great views from the 17th floor.
Crowne Plaza, Dubai Festival City (04 701 2222) When: November 15 Where: Dubai Festival City, next to the Waterfront Centre Cost of the rooms: Dhs800 plus tax 5 star Number of rooms: 316, including 16 suites and two Presidential suites www.crowneplaza.com/dfc Again, part of the impressive new Festival City complex, the Crowne Plaza is billing itself as ‘the place to meet'. And appropriately enough, it's going to have plenty of places to do just that. Fitness buffs will want to take note of the gym, sauna and steam room while there's also a 25m pool and an outdoor spa pool offering postcard-perfect views of the Creek. Gastronomes, meanwhile, are catered for with the arrival of Zaytoun, an all day dining restaurant with live cooking stations. The most exciting news, however, is that the Belgian Beer Café will actually be serving Belgian food and drinks. With most venues in the city limited to the bog-standard beers, a chilled Leffé or a raspberry-flavoured beer in this two-storey, indoor/outdoor bar will do very nicely indeed.
Raffles Dubai (04 324 8888) When: Currently in the soft opening stage Where: It's the big pyramid-shaped building right next to Wafi City Cost of the rooms: To be confirmed 5 star Number of rooms: 248 www.dubai.raffles.com It hasn't quite got the charm, and it obviously doesn't have the history of its big brother in Singapore, but Raffles is sure to be a major player on Dubai's hotel scene. Shaped like a huge pyramid to reflect its Wafi surroundings, Raffles will offer 11 food and drink outlets, four presidential suites, two penthouse suites and two royal suites among its 248 rooms. Asiana restaurant, inspired by the flavours of the Orient, offers everything from dim sum and satay to noodles and rice dishes, while the Fire & Ice Raffles Grill will satisfy the hungriest meat devotees. Rather than being based on a dour motel in the English West Midlands, Crossroads Cocktail bar is where you can savour the famous Raffles tipple, the Singapore Sling. Meanwhile, the Raffles Salon is a sophisticated lobby lounge where you can take a traditional Raffles afternoon tea and attempt to revive the dubious glories of the colonies.
Golden Tulip, Al Barsha (04 341 7750) When: Now open Where: Behind UBL bank in Al Barsha Cost of the rooms: From Dhs500 plus tax 4 star Number of rooms: 125 www.goldentulip.com Sleeping in a Golden Tulip sounds like something out of a Roald Dahl story, but this hotel is very real, with rooms, beds, showers and everything. It's aimed at the business traveller and, just like you and me, our suited and booted chums like to eat and drink occasionally, so there are a number of refreshment outlets to investigate. Al Fandi, the new Lebanese restaurant and terrace, also has live music, while Bamboo is described as a quaint little place serving Chinese food from Peking and Canton. Sport addicts will get their fix from The Locker Room's 50-inch plasma screens, while booty-shakers and shape-throwers can indulge in their folly while tucking into juicy steaks at Infinity, which is a nightclub with a kitchen. It all sounds very nice, but we advise you to thoroughly check directions to this hotel on the website - people have been known to go missing for days in the wilds of Barsha trying to find the place. Draw up a map, pack some Kendal Mint Cake, tell the police where you're going and you should be fine.
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina (04 399 3333) When: March 2008 Where: Next to Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Cost of the rooms: Available on request 5 star Number of rooms: 294 www.westin.com/dubaiminaseyahi Ever slept in a Heavenly Bed? Well you can at the Westin. The branded beds at this soon-to-open hotel mean you'll be sleeping on a registered trademark, and not just an amazingly comfy and revitalising mattress. If you can drag yourself out of the sack, you can then indulge in a Heavenly Shower, and so on. Westin Hotels are designed to refresh and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit, and make you feel better when you leave than you did when you arrived. The various food and drink outlets might help that process, starting with the main restaurant, Blue Orange, which will be kitted out with live cooking stations and a sprawling buffet. Then there's Hunter's Room and Grill, which will feature Argentine beef, and the Emporium restaurant, which will be focused on spices from around the world. What's left to do after all that but retire to your luxury room, kick off your shoes and shuffle off to do something decidedly unheavenly in the five-star bathroom?
The Monarch Hotel (O4 329 8888) When: November 2007 Where: Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite the World Trade Centre How much: To be confirmed 5 star Number of rooms: 236 www.themonarchdubai.com Those who've noticed a regal presence on Sheikh Zayed Road recently haven't been deceived, because The Monarch Hotel will soon be flinging open its hallowed gates. The lanky, 33-storey building stands opposite the World Trade Centre, and boasts dramatic sea views on its north-western side, not to mention a ballroom that can hold up to 550 people. Of its eight restaurants, its Japanese outlet, Okku Dubai, is set to bring together some of the best chefs from Japan, the US and the UK. Meanwhile, The Empire will be a bastion of opulence and luxury on the ground floor, with its mahogany flourishes and glass sculptures. The modern European menu promises a whole host of gourmet dishes, from succulent meat to the freshest ocean catch of the day. After dinner, you can pop something from Havana in your mouth at the Cigar Lounge, or carry on the Cuban theme with a daiquiri in the cocktail lounge. When you're done gorging, smoking and slurping, there's the exclusive Mandara Spa and health club to at least make you feel like you're licking your pampered frame back into shape.