When the Meliá Dubai opened ceremoniously last May, one of the only five-star residences in Bur Dubai, it was perceived as the start of a fightback by the older end of town, a new glittering gem in the face of the city’s rapid expansion south. All eyes were drawn to the hotel’s impressive openings, including two celeb chef- backed restaurants – Marco Pierre White’s Titanic and Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor – and its nightclub, Mansion. Titantic seems to have gone a little off-brand, launching a Latino ladies’ night, while the latter has enjoyed a turbulent time. After launching last May, Mansion shut early for a summer refurb, then closed altogether in December. As we went to press, Mansion was hosting a ‘Grand Opening’ party, with no mention of the fact it launched way back when.So, as we eagerly wait to see how Mansion Mk 2.0 goes down, we decided to see what other nightlife options the Spanish hotel dishes up.
The main lounge bar, Alfonso X, might strike you as slightly underwhelming at first. Like the rest of the hotel, it’s impeccably designed: delicately lit, decorated in bold complimentary colours, with a masculine lounge feel. But for all its smart design, when we visited at 9pm on a Friday night it was populated by just two solitary males, both twiddling with laptops and smartphones. The bar’s location off the hotel’s main lobby doesn’t help the feeling you’re in an airport departure lounge, with these two lost souls waiting for their gate to be called.
And it’s small. We counted just nine tables, most with only a pair of seats: the effort the hotel must have invested to craft the inventive list of imported drinks seems wasted on such a tiny overlooked venue. Incidentally, both the food and the Dhs55 mixed drinks were of a very high quality, although the persistent absence of any staff meant ordering and paying for them took significantly longer than it should have done. After a nigh-on ten-minute wait for service, we gave up on a second drink.
Assuming this disastrous service was an aberration, the stylish get-up and great drinks make Alfonso X a very pleasant place for a quiet drink – although our visit suggests it may be a very quiet one. We can only hope that with the reopening of Mansion, a few more lost souls stumble upon this place.