Dubai is widely associated with glitzy hotels with vast lobbies and lavish brunches. But there are a couple of "guest houses" in the historic Bastakiya district near Dubai Creek that are trying to do something on a smaller, more discreet scale.
Business is not easy, the "tiny hotels" say, as costs of running these properties is quite high. Yet they remain popular among guests looking for alternatives to the big brands. The XVA Art Hotel, with just six rooms, is one such property.
"We are giving people the opportunity to stay somewhere a bit authentic and a bit special," says Claude Berquier, the hotel's general manager.
The hotel also doubles as an art gallery, with paintings and sculptures by artists from countries including Iraq displayed throughout the property and even in the rooms. These pieces are all for sale, with price tags of thousands of dollars.
The XVA Art Hotel is set around a couple of small, peaceful leafy courtyards. It has a cafe that serves vegetarian meals and there are plans to double the number of rooms to generate more revenue. It is also open for conferences.
By September, as the new rooms open up, the hotel will have just 10 staff, Ms Berquier says.
"I know all the people who are staying in the hotel," she adds.
But to remain competitive with the plethora of well-known players in the region, room rates are the same as much larger rivals, ranging from Dh200 ($US54.45) to Dh800 per night.
With a limited budget, marketing these small hotels relies mainly on word of mouth.
Some of them are also receiving a boost from the web. XVA Art Hotel has been awarded a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor.com and its 4.5 out of a possible 5 on Booking.com is complemented by almost 70 reviews from visitors.
Nearby, the Orient Guest House, is also benefiting from dozens of positive reviews and a 4-star rating on both sites.
"I don't have difficulty in selling because such properties are unique," says Habib Khan, the general manager of the hotel and chief executive of the hospitality division of Planet Group. "I'm not promoting very heavily," he adds. "A lot of my bookings are coming directly online."
Mr Khan's guest house has also received help from a company that manages the Arabian Courtyard Hotel, a larger sister hotel located nearby.
"If the occupancy is high I can send people from the housekeeping," says Mr Khan. "If there's something not working I can send the maintenance people from the hotel to fix the problem."
Mr Khan says guests are looking for something different.
"They are not looking for the swimming pool and the gymnasium facilities," he says. "The people who are staying there are quite in touch with the historical values and the cultural values."