The hotel entrance is at the bottom of a ramp that takes you from the street to the basement. This feels a little odd but, once you get there, it's slick, stylish, well-lit and well-staffed. There's a glass lift up to reception on the ground floor, which is situated in an impressive lobby with a large atrium and a lounge area on a raised platform in the centre. In keeping with the hotel's Spanish brand, staff are warm and genuine. More glass lifts take you to the rooms upstairs.
The hotel is off Kuwait Street in an uninspiring part of Bur Dubai and feels too upmarket for its location. Surrounded by nondescript apartment blocks, low-cost hotels and main roads, the proximity to Dubai airport is the only plus.
I stay at this hotel on two separate occasions and try both a standard room and a suite. Both are large and beautifully designed, mostly in dark brown and beige and featuring luxuriously upholstered bedheads and furniture, wow-factor designer bathrooms and sophisticated lighting. The only disappointments are the views, which are pretty bleak.
Generally charming, helpful and genuine, though I found the service in the breakfast room a little slow and laboured.
The first time I visit it's Ramadan and the hotel is quiet. The second time is much more lively. On both occasions, there is a heavy Spanish presence: Spaniards watching Real Madrid vs Barcelona fill the sports bar. In the morning, it's a laid-back mix of stopover travellers and business people. Signature, the Indian restaurant, was empty when I dined but Titanic, which is the smartest place in the hotel and adjoins the lovely Alfonso X bar, feels like the place to be.
The hotel has three restaurants: Azalya, an international buffet restaurant, Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor, a modern Indian restaurant, and Titanic by Marco Pierre White, serving contemporary European cuisine. Titanic is the most impressive, both in terms of food and ambiance. We try salads of beetroot, goat's cheese and walnuts (Dh40) and chicory, pear and gorgonzola (Dh40), which are fresh and delicately presented, and a 250 gram rib-eye steak with pepper sauce and onion rings (Dh140), which is tender, juicy and delicious. In Signature, we liked the tamarind glazed tandoori chicken and paneer tikka (both Dh90) as starters and the prawn curry, served in a fresh coconut (Dh150, serves two), the goat rogan josh (Dh75 for a small portion) and the fabulously presented Hyderabadi biryani (Dh115). The buffet breakfast was decent if not spectacular and staff are adept at suggesting adaptations to suit your taste.
The room, the restaurants and the YHI spa, on the top floor beside a great rooftop pool. I like the fact that you can choose your own music, and the signature YHI Abhyanga massage (50 min, Dh325) and diamond lift effect facial (80 min, Dh950) are performed with utmost skill. The massage sends me to sleep and the facial includes a massage and the usual processes, with Natura Bisse products, and culminates in a coating of "frozen marine DNA" which holds your glow for a week.
The location is a little depressing. When I ran a bath, I had to remember to pull out a knob on the tap at the same time as turning it on to prevent the room being sprayed with water by the hand-held shower. Given that there was a separate shower room, this seemed unnecessary. And there was no plain black tea in the tea and coffee selection.
A smart, warm, and stylish hotel in a disappointing location.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Melia Dubai, Kuwait Street, Port Rashid, Dubai (www.melia-dubai.com; 04 386 8111) cost from Dh648 per night including taxes.
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