BACKGROUND The first Oberoi hotel to open in the United Arab Emirates, this five-star property was unveiled in June by the Indian brand.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Height, light and space were the three words chosen by Oberoi to be embodied in this new-build – and, at 27 floors tall with bedrooms starting from 52 sqm, all with floor-to-ceiling windows, this has been achieved. Stepping into the cool of the lobby, reception is to the right, while straight ahead are views on to an outdoor terrace with frangipani trees. The interiors are modern, luxurious and businesslike, with plenty of white marble, glass and timber, and little in the way of local or Indian touches. Dotted throughout are dozens of specially commissioned abstract canvases hand-painted in primary colours, which jazz up the otherwise neutral décor.
WHERE IS IT? In Business Bay, looking towards the Burj Khalifa, which is 5 km away. Dubai International airport is about 25 minutes’ drive and the Business Bay metro is nearby, though not within walking distance if it’s hot. Being so new, when I stayed in the summer none of the taxi drivers knew where it was; the area is also surrounded by building sites so is quite an unattractive place to be located at the moment.
ROOM FACILITIES All rooms have in-room check-in, butler service, Nespresso machines, iPod docks, LED TVs, minibars, twice-daily housekeeping, free mineral water, daily fruit and flowers, a pillow menu, 24-hour laundry and room service, one-hour pressing and free wired/wireless internet. Just over 30 rooms and suites have terraces.
I stayed in a huge (134 sqm) Deluxe corner suite, which had a living room fitted out with an office area complete with desk, wireless phone and international sockets. Sliding doors opened on to two private terraces, glass walls provided panoramic vistas, and there were bedside controls for the blinds and lights. The white marble bathroom featured twin sinks, a walk-in rainshower, a freestanding tub, a walk-in wardrobe and lots of thoughtful amenities such as nail clippers and silk robes. One morning I noticed that the maid had left me a new tube of toothpaste as mine had run out.
The hotel says it tries to personalise each guest’s stay by asking pre-arrival questions, checking loyalty scheme preferences or looking at their social media profiles. So people might find their company logo reflected, their favourite drink in the minibar or a copy of a book by an author they like on a shelf.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS I had breakfast at the 24-hour Nine 7 One, which lays on a diverse buffet of pastries, fruit, eggs, salad, hummus and Arabic bread with melted cheese and za’atar (a mix of herbs and spices). There are also delicious à la carte options such as a waffle on a stick with strawberries and maple syrup.
Umai specialises in contemporary pan-Asian cuisine and has an open kitchen, a teppanyaki station, a “kung fu tea master” and the only chef in Dubai licensed to prepare fugu (poisonous blowfish). I ate at fine-dining Ananta, where friendly staff present flavoursome fare from the coastal regions of India. The 24-hour lobby lounge serves tea, coffee and snacks, while the adjacent bar is open between 5pm and 2am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Unusually, much of the event space has been assigned to one of the hotel’s highest floors (the 26th) so has stunning views. As well as seven meeting rooms (the largest for 12 people), there is a 16-seat boardroom, a business centre and video-conferencing facilities. The lower lobby level has two small meeting spaces for four to five people, and a ballroom for 440 guests theatre-style.
LEISURE FACILITIES Floor three has a superb 19-metre outdoor infinity pool, a gym with Life Fitness machines and a spa with seven treatment studios. The 60-minute Ayurvedic-inspired hot herbal poultice therapy I had was very relaxing. Both the gym and spa are open 24 hours.
VERDICT An excellent new luxury hotel where staff work hard to go beyond the call of duty when it comes to service. Once the Business Bay area around the Oberoi is developed, it will enjoy a prime location.