x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Movenpick Hotel Deira is an elegant retreat in Dubai's old quarter

Hotel Insider the new Movenpick Hotel in Deira provides welcome respite from the busy streets of Deira.

The lobby at the Movenpick Hotel Deira. Courtesy Movenpick Hotel Deira
The lobby at the Movenpick Hotel Deira. Courtesy Movenpick Hotel Deira

The welcome

We arrived after 10pm on a Thursday, nearly three hours off schedule, thanks to a couple of wrong turns and the fact that I, my husband's co-driver, was too busy watching a live cricket match on my iPhone to help him figure out the directions provided by the hotel's thoughtful communications manager. Once we pulled up, though, our car was immediately whisked away by a smiling, smartly dressed attendant, and we stepped through the revolving doors into a brightly lit lobby scattered with lots of comfy yellow chairs. Check-in took exactly 17 seconds - I know because I timed it - and we were shown to our room before my husband and I could begin an argument about whose fault it was we were late.

The neighbourhood

The business hotel, which opened in January, is easily accessible by both Maktoum Bridge and Garhoud Bridge. When we went, driving up to the hotel's entrance proved complicated because of the dug-up roads and winding detours. But the hotel sits right at Deira's heart, minutes away from the business district, with Al Reef Mall just up the road and Dubai Creek and the Deira Corniche a short drive away. The Gold Souq and the Spice Souq are also within easy reach. Dubai airport is quite close, too, and while the low-flying planes delighted our son, we were left with a sense of foreboding - would we able to sleep through all that noise?

The service

The service was super-quick and efficient for a hotel that's only been open for a few months. Room service was sterling, too - our piping-hot lunch was delivered less than 15 minutes after the order was placed, and dental kits were brought up to our room barely seconds after we made a call to housekeeping. The staff were friendly and helpful without being too attentive. The doorman, who seemed to know Deira inside out, was happy to tip us on short cuts to around the crowded, congested town.

The room

Our executive suite, comprising a spacious bedroom and a living area, opened onto a connecting double room that was set up with a tray of sweets and chocolates for our son. Floor-to-ceiling windows along one side of the suite looked out over the street (sadly, there wasn't much to see except a police station, a cement mixer and a dusty fly-over). I found the decor predictable and a tad too masculine - all dark and heavy furniture. The suite's main bathroom (it had two) was airy and bright, laid out with white marble, a big round jacuzzi and shiny silver fittings.

The food

We dined at the Wok In, the hotel's intimate new restaurant, and were escorted to one of the deep-red booths set around the live cooking station. At nine on a Friday night, the restaurant was empty except for us and a young couple seated at the other end. The music was a little too loud and the view from the window revealed traffic cones and a digger, but dinner was to die for: from the laksa, coconut-based seafood soup (Dh39), to the siew mai, tender prawn dim sum (Dh35), every dish was perfectly spiced. The winner was the delicious Singapore chilli crab (Dh150), beautifully presented with melt-in-the-mouth Chinese Mantou buns. For dessert we chose an all-time Thai favourite, khow neaw ma muang, sticky rice steamed in banana leaf with coconut sauce, sliced mango and ice cream (Dh40). Breakfast the next morning was a standard buffet - omelettes, a variety of breads, fresh juice, fruit - at Jigsaw (Dh90), the other restaurant. We could have chosen to eat it at the Executive Lounge but changed our minds when we walked past and saw a lone businessman sitting behind a newspaper while a plate of eggs congealed in front of him.

The scene

There were plenty of European tourists about as well as young Arab couples and families out to enjoy the weekend. The rooftop pool was noisy with children, the gym was fully occupied by a group of Germans and the lobby was filled with Deira residents who'd popped in for coffee and a chat.

Loved

Luxuriating in the super-sized jacuzzi after a hot day exploring Deira.

Hated

The planes whooshing overhead all night. My husband and I had some trouble getting to sleep, but our son went out like a light and woke up at six the next morning, ruining any hopes we had of a lie-in.

The verdict

An elegant hotel with exceptional service and none of the hiccups usually associated with a new opening.

The bottom line

Double rooms cost from Dh564 per night, including breakfast and taxes. The Mövenpick Hotel Deira, Sallahudin Road, (www.moevenpick-hotels.com; 04 444 0111).

ciyer@thenational.ae