Smart but not stuffy, the hotel attracts mostly European businesspeople and holidaymakers.
Hotel Insider: Pullman Dubai Mall of the Emirates
Assured and businesslike. The hotel has a pleasant entrance well away from the throngs arriving and departing from Mall of the Emirates. After pulling in I'm greeted swiftly and the car is valeted. Once in through the revolving doors, the hotel has a swish, upmarket feel to it, and the welcome is warm but to the point.
The Pullman is attached to Mall of the Emirates' northern side. There's little else of interest besides the mall, but it's a good location nonetheless, just five minutes' drive from Jumeirah and 15 minutes from Downtown Dubai.
Generally efficient and unobtrusive. My car was brought back from the valet in a timely manner without any fuss or fanfare, which is always appreciated. The mostly Chinese staff in Sanabel restaurant were smart, attentive and cheerful.
Being part of a chain, the standard rooms have a slightly cookie-cutter feel decor-wise, but they make up for this with space and comfort. My room, a one-bedroom executive suite on the eleventh floor, was enormous. One side of the bedroom looked out over Mall of the Emirates, the other at the Burj al Arab, and the living room at Downtown Dubai. It was so high up that there was no noise from below and the tangle of flyovers immediately opposite the hotel looked quite spectacular.
The suite was light, private and very comfortable: I stayed for only one night but could happily have spent the whole weekend there. The cosy sitting room had both a dining and desk area; there was also a separate kitchenette and two bathrooms. The main bathroom was impressive, with electric blinds, a bath with a view and its own TV system. The bed was fine but unfortunately fitted with a mattress topper that I found hot and uncomfortable.
The hotel only has one restaurant, Sanabel, offering all-day dining. Instead of an all-day buffet, however, the lunch and dinner arrangments offer a choice of salad buffet (great value at just Dh20), plus a good selection of main courses ordered à la carte. The hummous, smoky moutabal, baba ghanoush, labneh, makdous and zingy muhammara were all delicious and led to the swift disappearance of three slices of warm, crispy nan bread and an accompanying spicy cream cheese dip.
My main course, sea bass pan-fried in meuniére of lemon and thyme, was tasty, and served with a pleasant celeriac confit and creamy mashed potato. A Dh45 payment for dessert means unlimited access to several glass fridges loaded with hundreds of sweet delights, from chocolate mousse to mango cheescake. There's also an impressive juice bar well stocked with fresh fruit, including whole green coconuts. A carrot juice costs Dh25. For dinner, I tried the lamb tagine (Dh75), which was a bit disappointing - the lamb shank was well cooked, but the rather gloopy sauce made from meat juices and onions had a rather bland flavour. The couscous came topped with vegetables in a small amount of sauce but, again, I would have liked a bit more spice.
Smart but not stuffy, the hotel attracts mostly European businesspeople and holidaymakers. Part of the Accor chain, Pullman hotels offer comfort superior to the Novotel brand but below the Sofitel. However, this feels at least as smart as a lot of Sofitels I've stayed in. The restaurant was very quiet in the afternoon but the atmosphere at breakfast was better, and towards sunset the fifth-floor outdoor terrace filled up. The 24th floor houses a rooftop pool and the spa and gym. The pool is quite spectacular and worthy of a magazine shoot - the views all round, especially across Al Quoz to the Burj Khalifa, are stunning. Again, the newness of the hotel means it's still forging its identity, but I liked its quietness and sophistication.
My 60-minute signature relaxing massage at the Sanctuary spa (Dh325) by Christine from the Philippines was first rate. Her touch was both soothing and therapeutic and I emerged in a trance-like state. The steam room was lovely, too. The executive suite rooms and the private link to Mall of the Emirates. So near but yet so far.
The traffic on Saturday afternoon - leaving the hotel by car or taxi and trying to get to the Sheikh Zayed Road - inevitably involves an irritating crawl around the back streets of Barsha. Having to strip down the bed to remove the mattress topper at 3am.
A very smart and stylish new addition to Mall of the Emirates hotel scene, this is somewhere you'd stay even if your weekend doesn't revolve around the mall.
The bottom line
"Superior" (ie standard) double rooms cost from Dh732 per night, including taxes, without breakfast. Executive suites cost from Dh1,620, including taxes and breakfast. The Pullman Dubai Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha 1, Dubai (www.pullmanhotelsdubai.com; 04 377 2000 or 04 702 8000).