Hotel Insider: Conrad Dubai
Driving from Abu Dhabi along the Sheikh Zayed Road necessitates a U-turn at Trade Centre Roundabout before turning off to the hotel on the right. There’s an event taking place when I arrive and the forecourt is busy, but once inside there’s no queue at check-in. The lobby is grand, but lacks the design statement that I’m hoping for. I’m then told that check-in is in the comfort of the executive lounge overlooking Jumeirah on the 24th floor, which is a great way to start.
The purpose-built, 51-storey tower block is opposite the World Trade Centre Metro station. A walkway directly in front of the hotel connects to the Dubai Convention Centre; Dubai World Trade Centre is also within walking distance. Emirates Towers, DIFC and the Downtown Dubai are all very close.
The hotel has 555 rooms; mine, on the 44th floor, is so high up that the panorama from the Trade Centre Roundabout on the left to Emirates Towers on the right looks like a scale model. The room is decorated mostly in cream and beige, with a thick beige carpet with dark-brown swirls, dark-wood furniture and a pale-orange marble bathroom. Everything works and the bed is huge and enveloping. There’s no door separating the toilet from the rest of the bathroom, and there’s an additional window through to the bedroom from there, so you have to lower a blind for privacy. I like the high-quality TV embedded in the wall at sensible viewing height from the bath.
I’m greeted by two smiling girls at the entrance to Ballarò, the hotel’s ground-floor international restaurant, but the one who escorts me in seems to want me to sit inside when I prefer outside. The breakfast is a buffet, but staff are slow to lay the table and bring coffee. Room service arrives swiftly and efficiently, but at Purobeach Urban Oasis, the hotel’s poolside lounge, I’m served by a new staff member who confesses that she doesn’t know much about the menu and can’t recommend anything. The order is mixed up and both food and drinks take a long time to arrive. When I leave my swimming costume by mistake, communicating with housekeeping is a chore and I don’t feel that anyone is bothered if I get the item back or not. I don’t.
This feels like an urban, adult, business hotel rather than a resort, and apart from open areas at the back of the building and a small terrace at Izel, a cavernous Latin supper club, feels hermetically sealed. That’s no bad thing – the six bars and restaurants are all worthwhile destinations. I like the executive lounge, though it closes at 11pm.
The buffet breakfast is extensive, but not superlative. I order the sushi and sashimi platter from room service, which is high quality (Dh115, including service charge) but the hot and sour soup (Dh55) is too salty. Lunch at Purobeach involves six oysters (overpriced and unspectacular, Dh150); Asian beef salad (made with processed meat, Dh55). Better are the tandoori wrap though it’s Dh62, and the delicious “passion” mocktail, made with apple and mint (Dh38).
The location and urban feel.
The road system, which means that when you drive out of the hotel and turn right, instead of being able to go straight to Jumeirah, you end up back over the other side of the Sheikh Zayed Road.
This is a new hotel with a lot of potential, so hopefully service issues will be addressed.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Conrad Dubai (conraddubai.com; 04 444 7444) cost from Dh1,222 per night, including taxes but excluding breakfast.
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