WHAT’S IT LIKE? Rotana’s flagship Dubai property opened in 1997 and was fully renovated for its ten-year anniversary in 2007-08. The five-star, four-storey property is built around a central atrium and is decorated in a classic, elegant style, with the sound of water from two big fountains in the lobby the first thing you notice. The lobby is grand and has a garden theme – there is a raised seating area in the middle underneath a curving wooden structure that suggests a gazebo (this area is actually called Gazebo and pastries, tea and coffee are served here), along with tall palm trees and an ornate glass ceiling decorated with flowers. A piano plays in the lobby in the afternoon and evening. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
WHERE IS IT? On Casablanca Road, five minutes’ drive from Dubai International airport. It’s about a 15-minute drive to the World Trade Centre.
ROOM FACILITIES The 275 rooms and suites are traditionally decorated with beige and red colour notes and dark wood furniture. Standard amenities include wired internet access (charged at Dhs 95/£18 per 24 hours – I was told the hotel was in the process of installing wifi), safes, flatscreen TVs and tea and coffee-making facilities. Most bathrooms have a combined bath and shower. Club Rotana rooms are located on the third and fourth floors, and I stayed in one on the third. It was quiet and peaceful and had a large comfortable bed, a good-sized workdesk (although the chair was a little too low for me), UK plug sockets and a cable for wired internet access. There were two cream armchairs and a coffee table. I was provided with free mineral water, fruit and dates and a free daily copy of Gulf News, which were welcome touches. The view was of the neighbouring building’s car park.
Maid service was twice daily and very thorough – I had left some clothes out of my case and found these neatly folded and arranged on my return, which I appreciated.The bathroom was a little old fashioned in décor for my taste, with green marble and gold-plated taps. It had a combined bath and shower with a curtain, and the mirror steamed up when I showered. The L’Occitane toiletries were nice. As a Club Rotana guest I had access to the lounge, on the third floor – it was largely open-plan in style and overlooked the lobby, the sounds of which were audible. It had plenty of seating, newspapers and magazines, a TV, and three PCs with free internet. Breakfast, afternoon tea and all-day drinks are served here.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are several dining options on the ground floor. Choices is a 24-hour diner and is where the buffet breakfast is served – I have rarely seen such a spread, with bountiful Western and Eastern hot dishes as well as cereals, fruit, breads, pastries, cold meats, yogurts and even sushi. Rodeo Grill is a fine-dining steakhouse open for lunch and dinner – I had an excellent steak here as well as a delicious chocolate soufflé, and the service was top-notch and very friendly. There is also a bar, Come Prima; Blue Elephant, a Thai restaurant; Benihana, serving American-Japanese cuisine; a Lebanese eatery called Mawal, which is run by an external company; and a poolside snack bar.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The Al Bustan Rotana Convention Centre is an impressive facility located on the lower ground floor. It has one of Dubai’s largest hotel ballrooms – at just over 1,500 sqm, it divides into three and holds 1,500 people, with grand chandeliers adding a luxurious touch. The convention centre also has its own entrance, a large pre-function space with plenty of sofas for relaxing, dedicated coffee areas, several meeting rooms of varying sizes, and a private VIP room. There is a business centre next to reception with two PCs and a small meeting room.
LEISURE FACILITIES Bodylines fitness club includes a good-sized gym with Star Trac machines, an outdoor pool (very noisy from construction work going on near the hotel when I visited), an outdoor spa bath, separate sauna and steam rooms for men and women, one squash court and three tennis courts. Massages can be arranged.
VERDICT A well-equipped business hotel ideally located if you need to be close to the airport. Excellent dining and meeting facilities and friendly, helpful staff.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from Dhs 780 (£148) for a Classic room.
CONTACT Al Bustan Rotana, Casablanca Road; tel +971 4282 0000; rotana.com