x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hotel insider: Oberoi, Dubai

Overlooking the Burj Khalifa, Dubai's latest luxury hotel does the business.

A handout photo of Premier Room at The Oberoi, Dubai (Courtesy: The Oberoi, Dubai) *** Local Caption *** WK16AU-TR-INSIDER-OBEROI.jpg
A handout photo of Premier Room at The Oberoi, Dubai (Courtesy: The Oberoi, Dubai) *** Local Caption *** WK16AU-TR-INSIDER-OBEROI.jpg

The welcome

I was greeted regally in true Oberoi style by door staff clad in traditional but elegant Indian dress. There's an impressive view of the Burj Khalifa from the elevated entranceway and, drawing you inside, two 12.5-metre-long golden chandeliers.

The neighbourhood

The Business Bay area of Dubai is still very much under construction, although some impressive apartment and office buildings have been completed. The hotel is part of the Oberoi Centre, a very smart, twin-tower mixed development.

The room

My room was high up, with a view down onto the pool deck and across to the other tower of the Oberoi Centre. Beyond, Dubai's new "design district" is taking shape. The room was businesslike, with cream walls, a polished wood-style floor, a square, striped rug and a corresponding square of modern art on the wall. The bathroom felt more opulent, with a marble floor, and had a see-through walk-in shower and roll-topped bath next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The service

Unlike most hotels, the Oberoi brand, which now has 30 luxury hotels worldwide, has its own school of hotel management to ensure quality and uniformity of service. This is immediately evident here - the mostly Indian staff are courteous, gracious and generally pleasant to be around - although they were a little overly attentive at breakfast, when there weren't many other guests. When I left the hotel to drive back to Abu Dhabi, one of the door staff politely reminded me that I'd forgotten my pillow - which he'd remembered unloading the day before.

The scene

The hotel was quiet when I arrived in the afternoon, and, despite its chandelier, the lobby area doesn't have much character. The outside courtyard will be lovely for events in cooler evenings. The atmosphere picked up in the early evening, when the Indian restaurant Ananta was full of distinguished-looking families and business people, and chefs were active in the open kitchen. The pool and spa areas were also sparsely populated, which I liked.

The food

The continental breakfast at Nine7One costs Dh125. I enjoyed the fresh carrot and orange juice and crunchy cut melon from the buffet, but nothing else stood out. It was a different matter at lunch, where an imaginative menu changes frequently. My spicy tofu with chicken and rice (Dh80) was tasty and reviving. Ananta, however, the hotel's specialist Indian restaurant, was my favourite. The kebab platter (Dh160) was fresh, confidently presented, pleasantly spicy and enough for two. I was already planning a return visit when I sat down to eat.

Loved

The 24-hour spa is ideal for those travelling at all hours on business, and the Thai massage there was expertly performed, if expensive at Dh500 for one hour. The platter of cold towels, Evian, Evian mist spray and delicious frozen grapes served free by the poolside is a great idea.

Hated

For those unfamiliar with the area, finding the hotel is a bit tricky. Like so many hotels these days, the room's lights are controlled via various flat, electronic panels that glowed so brightly in the dark that I had to wear an eye mask. This was a shame, particularly as the room was fitted with the best blackout blinds I've ever come across.

The verdict

The first Oberoi hotel in the UAE is a welcome addition to the hotel scene, and its location will only get better in time. With 252 rooms, it's small enough to have a personality.

The bottom line

Doubles from Dh840 per night including taxes. Until August 31, an introductory offer of Dh1,200 per night including taxes includes breakfast, an upgrade to the next room category (if available) and a Dh200 food-and-beverage credit per stay. The Oberoi Centre, Dubai (04 444 1444, www.oberoihotels.com).

rbehan@thenational.ae

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