The Taj Dubai, which opened in 2015, is the first of the Indian Hotels Company’s five-star hotels in Dubai. It is soon to be joined by several more, starting with the Taj Jumeirah Lakes Tower opening in November 2019 and followed by the Taj Dubai Palm in 2020. A further property is planned in Deira.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Very opulent, with Indian touches in the design including a dramatic backlit sandstone ‘jali’ screen set behind the reception, marble floors covered in thick rugs and silks in lilac, teal and a dusky gold, plus tall mirrors with brass surrounds disguising the supporting columns for the building. It’s not overpowering, not least because of the while panelled walls with polished brass.
The reception is double height with a staircase leading up to the mezzanine floor, and hanging from the ceiling is a beautiful modern chandelier with crystal birds in flight. Guests are greeted with a sandalwood-bead necklace and a dot of sandalwood paste on the forehead, though they don’t seem to mind if you politely refuse and just have one of the chilled welcome juices and a cold towel.
There are thousands of pieces of art and sculpture throughout the hotel, many created by Indian artists for Taj, including wood, stone and marble carvings of elephants and horses. The whole concept was created by Capsule Arts which provided artworks for several areas of the hotel after travelling to India to source accessories, visit antiques dealers, artisans and design companies in areas such as Udaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
There are even some display cabinets in the lobby telling the story of the UAE’s heritage displaying traditional Arabic accessories and objects with information about each one.
WHERE IS IT?
In the Burj Khalifa precinct, a five-minute drive from the Dubai Mall. Dubai International Airport is 15km from the property.
All the 296 rooms and suites are large, with the entry level Luxury Rooms being 45 sqm and ranging up to the Presidential Suite which is 680 sqm. Some of these suites are simply beautiful, with stunning design; understated, but also wonderfully ornate with great detailing.
All rooms are external facing, with views of the surrounding buildings (or more like building sites at the moment). The building is 35 storeys tall, with rooms on floors six to 35.
The Taj Club executive floor is on 24, where there is also the private Chambers Club (you won’t have access to that). Smoking floors are 17, 18, 19, 28 and 29 (54 rooms and suites in total).
Rooms have plenty of plug points and USB charging, along with a good size work desk, comfortable chair and a 42-inch LED television. Windows are floor to ceiling, though black out curtains do an excellent job of keeping out early morning sun if you want a lie in.
All rooms have a safe and minibar, although mine was empty so I could chill the complimentary water or fill it with my own purchases. There are tea and coffee making items and the bathroom has a separate bath and shower, as well as two basins.
Taj Club Rooms are on the higher floors and have views of the Burj Khalifa tower, as well as benefiting from butler service and access to the Lounge on the 24th floor, which serves breakfast in the morning and evening cocktails, with a private boardroom for meetings.
FOOD AND DRINK
Tesoro is the all-day dining restaurant which, in the evening, changes to Miss Tess – an Asian street-food restaurant with flavours from China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. I didn’t go in the evening, but in the morning, sitting on my own, staff were welcoming and chatted with me until my companions arrived.
The hotel also has the excellent Bombay Brasserie, which will have fans from anyone from the UK who knows the one at Gloucester Road, also run by Taj. I wish I’d had time to eat at it, having had a fabulous lunch at the London one only a few weeks’ earlier.
This one has the same assorted mélange of furniture; carved wooden musicians and stone carvings, as well as ornate brocades and fabrics with large handcrafted Mughal paintings.
Where I did have time to visit (all too briefly) was The Eloquent Elephant gastro pub which is a vintage British-inspired bar with gas jar-light fittings, metal window frames, and a timber floor.
You walk through a door from the lobby and suddenly it’s like you’ve entered a different world, though thankfully one with similar excellent service. Sport was playing on the TV, the beer was cold despite the temperature outside, and I toyed with the idea of spending the rest of the evening there, before seeing the messages on my phone that everyone was waiting in the lobby.
It has a theme of ‘cabinet of curiosities’ hence the collection of vintage cameras, bowler hats and other curios in the display cases overhead the bar, as well as within a series of styled bell jars.
The idea is that it creates the feel of a luxury home where a well-travelled person has collected mementoes from their travels. Artist Matthew Ryder was commissioned to create a series of original watercolour paintings of elephants in the style of old Victorian portraits.
On the mezzanine floor there’s an art deco-style Byzantium Lounge with Indian lacquer work panels and soft furnishings inspired by iridescent Indian silks and fabrics.
Both meeting rooms have a maximum capacity of 20 people. The boardroom can hold up to ten delegates. For larger groups, there is the ballroom and outdoor pool deck with capacities for 300 (in round table seating) and 120 people respectively. The pre-function area can hold 120 people.
The hotel has a Taj Jiva Spa with a range of treatments, and there is a fitness centre and pool area on the third floor, with Life Fitness and TRX machines for personal fitness and training. It’s an elegant area with timber and stone detailing, and staff on hand to help. There is a large outdoor swimming pool and then a smaller one beneath a waterfall for children (it’s a very small waterfall – very safe).
The hotel has a calm assurance in what it is doing, and the staff are excellent. It’s a good choice for business travel, but also has the restaurants (and spa) to ensure that a longer stay (say, over the weekend) will also be enjoyable. It’s the sort of hotel you look forward to returning to, and I don’t think that about many city centre hotels.
Taj Dubai, Burj Khalifa Street, Business Bay, PO Box 8489 Dubai UAE; +971 4 4383100; tajhotels.com