There are some hotels which simply have it all. The views, the location, the food and above all – a sense of place. I’ve spent my fair share of time in Dubai hotels and I can hand on heart say that Shangri-La Dubai is now one of my favourites. The Palm area of Dubai doesn’t quite do it for me and so location wise it was also perfect. Right in the heart of Dubai’s bustling Financial Centre and close to transport links which can whisk you off to just about anywhere. The night before our stay here we sadly had an unfortunately bad experience at another hotel and so it was a breath of fresh air checking in at Shangri-la Dubai. From the moment we dropped our bags off, till the moment we left the next day – everything was exquisite.
The hotel sits on the busy Sheikh Zayed Road and from the outside it’s rather impressive. Perhaps even the most impressive hotel of all on this incredibly long road which runs through the centre of Dubai. Huge vases line the front of the building as your approach and concierge are dressed in vivid red at the doors. It all comes across as very grand.
Despite the huge vastness of the hotels exterior from the road, inside it’s actually much smaller and more personal than expected. This isn’t a resort hotel but a hotel for people who want that personal touch and a little more refinement to their trip. The hotel has also recently had a mini face lift and it looks absolutely fabulous. Pristine marble floors and walls. Accents of gold and shimmer, huge glass copper chandeliers and tropical floral displays. The royal blue behind the reception which curved into the lobby lounge was rather easy on the eye too, adding a little glamour and allowing for that gold to pop out.
Admittedly our bags were a little late to the room, but we weren’t in any rush so it didn’t spoil our experience. We stayed on the 31st floor in one of the Horizon Club deluxe rooms. Designed with the business traveller in mind, each room comes with all of the mod cons and a unique curved design feature which means the room flows seamlessly as you walk around. Fresh fruit, baklava, a well stocked mini-bar and freshly cut flowers were just some of the lovely little touches. Our bathroom was of good size too, with a deep soaking tub, zesty spa products and a lovely walk-in rain-forest shower. Not to mention the added bonus of club room access high on the 42nd floor.
While the views on the hotel roof were extraordinary, the ones from are room were equally as impressive. The whole of the Sheikh Zayed Road was opened up to us from our windows. It’s the longest road in the Emirates and is rather mesmerising to watch.
Another very pretty part of Shangri-la Dubai is its lobby lounge area. A sumptuous place to spend an afternoon to enjoy Arabic tea while people watching. It’s rather magical in the evening too with live music playing almost every single night and the afternoon tea looked very inviting.
For those looking for a little indulgence during their afternoon, the lobby lounge also serves up an array of all day patisseries which are crafted to perfection, as well as a full afternoon tea and array of cocktails, juices and fine wines. The lounge is open 24 hours which means room service doesn’t always have to be the only option.
Another truly opulent and beautiful part of the hotel is the staircase located to the east of the property. A serene water feature at its base with a sort of monolith metal structure in the centre. Dark satin wood covers the whole staircase, while gold leaf illuminates the underneath. The chandelier is stunning.
One of the most spectacular features of Shangri-La Dubai is its views. Once you take the lift up to the very top floor you’ll find an exclusive indoor swimming pool for Club room guests and a balcony with what is arguably the best views in Dubai. You can see the entire Dubai skyline, tall mirrored sky scrapers, a colourful network of Dubai’s highway system and of course the enchanting Burg Khalifa. Booking a club room simply to enjoy these views is one reason alone to upgrade.
On your way back down from enjoying those incredible views, stop at the Horizon Club lounge. Particularly around 6pm when you can enjoy a couple of hours of complimentary free-flowing house alcoholic beverages, light snacks and canapes.
Halfway up the building you’ll find the outdoor swimming pool and iKandy Ultralounge. It’s the perfect setting with more views of the Burj Khalifa. Perhaps the area could do with a little updating, but the swim up bar in the pool quickly distracts from a slightly scruffy at times seating area.
For those wondering where to eat for lunch and dinner, the hotel is home to more restaurants than you could imagine and there’s something to satisfy almost every craving. The gorgeous looking Junoon serves a modern Indian menu which has won countless awards and hails from its big brother of the same name in New York, which also holds a Michelin star.
Shang Palace serves up beautiful Chinese food and the brand is so well-respected it’s one of the only restaurants you can find at other Shangri-La locations. Renowned for its unlimited dim sum yum cha and crispy duck, this is one place you mustn’t miss out on.
But with all that choice we sadly had to pick just one and I think it may have been the best. Hoi An is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant and run by a completely Vietnamese team and operated by husband and wife duo. You can really feel that the passion here and from our entire Dubai stay we never felt so at home in a restaurant as we did here. The food was astonishingly good and everything was cooked so perfectly. Order everything deep-fried, a bowl of Pho and ginger creme brulee. I think this may well be my new favourite restaurant in Dubai and that’s no exaggeration. Interestingly the restaurant was also the first Vietnamese restaurant in Dubai.
I’m not usually a breakfast person, mostly because I always gorge too much the night before – but I had to make an exception the next morning. It’s served in a gorgeous large dining room and with an equally impressive buffet to match. It does get very busy in the morning, so the earlier the better. Expect to enjoy just about every cuisine but for me the Indian offering was the best. Very authentic and very delicious.
Sadly we had to depart Shangri-La Dubai but it came with great regret in doing so. Our stay was nothing short of magical and after a bad experience at a certain other hotel the previous day, the team here really created a truly unforgettable experience. From the concierge, right through to the person serving us in the bar. It’s not matter of would we return, but instead when – because I can’t wait to come back.