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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Hotel insider: Al Seef Hotel by Jumeirah

Go back in time at this Arabesque Creek dwelling in Dubai

Al Seef Hotel By Jumeirah is designed with Emirati traditions in mind, with rooms that overlook the old-style souk, as well as the Dubai Creek. Courtesy Jumeirah
Al Seef Hotel By Jumeirah is designed with Emirati traditions in mind, with rooms that overlook the old-style souk, as well as the Dubai Creek. Courtesy Jumeirah

The welcome

A little confusing, to be honest. After following the GPS instructions to the hotel entrance, there is some miscommunication about parking. As I pull up, I tell the staff I’m checking in and gesture to the bags, but am informed that valet parking comes at a cost and that once checked in I can come back and self park the car free of charge. After I have checked in, I do as they suggest but then proceed to get lost trying to find my way back to reception.

The neighbourhood

Situated on the banks of Dubai Creek, the hotel is surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes. Dubai International Airport is 15 minutes away and there are direct links to water taxis and traditional abras to cross the creek. Guests can also use the amenities at neighbouring Jumeirah properties, Zabeel House and Zabeel Mini, which are a 10-minute walk away.

The room

Of the 190 guest rooms across the 10 traditionally designed Arabian-style buildings or bayts, I’m in a deluxe souk view room (there are deluxe Creek rooms and suites, too). Rooms are designed with Emirati traditions in mind. Mine is quaint and warmly lit, has a king bed, small desk and two-seater Arabesque chair, and looks out over the warren of alleyways below.

The deluxe souk room. Courtesy Jumeirah
The deluxe souk room. Courtesy Jumeirah

The rotary dial telephones and dolly light switches, along with the bedside lamps and wooden window shutters, give it a real charm. In keeping with its rustic appeal, the addition of a locally made sand-infused soap among the amenities is a nice touch and I love the photographs from yesteryear that adorn the walls and shelves.

The service

The parking mix-up is compounded by a lack of communication around hotel services, like Wi-Fi and breakfast details, which is not ideal when you’re a first-time guest. Dealings are better in the restaurant where the chef and servers go out of their way to assist me when I eat dinner there.

The scene

It’s like stepping back in time. I’ve always really enjoyed spending time around Dubai Creek and this stay elevated the appeal. I loved wandering through the lanes around the hotel and watching the abras cruise down the waterway at sunset. Because the property is spread out, it doesn’t feel overly busy.

The food

With so many cafes and creekside restaurants in the vicinity, the hotel has opted to have just one eatery. Saba’a offers breakfast and dinner only and is Arabesque in its design, with a small majlis among the indoor and outdoor seating options. Breakfast (Dh75, if not included in the room rate) is a simple affair – as it would have been back in the day – with a small selection of salads, fruits and eggs. Try the balaleet (sweet vermicelli with an omelette on top) or the chebab (saffron-flavoured Emirati pancakes). The juices, however, were overly sour and the cappuccino I ordered was barely drinkable. In the evenings the restaurant serves meshawi – Middle Eastern meat or seafood grills (Dh135 or 145 per person respectively). There’s soup and salads for starters followed by your selection for main followed by local desserts.

Loved

One of the views from Al Seef Hotel by Jumeirah. Courtesy Jumeirah
One of the views from Al Seef Hotel by Jumeirah. Courtesy Jumeirah

The location and traditional charm of the place – it’s my new favourite spot in Dubai.

Hated

The commotion that went along with the souk stores opening early in the morning. Noise travels.

The verdict

Great for families, couples or solo travellers, especially those who like to walk and explore.

The bottom line

Rooms at Al Seef Hotel By Jumeirah (www.jumeirah.com) start from Dh400 a night, including taxes and Wi-Fi.

Updated: February 19, 2019 07:10 PM

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