From the region's first Design Hotels member to several new Rotanas, plus continued expansion in Oman and Saudi Arabia, the last six months have been busy in the region's hotel scene. Here's our pick of the best
The best new hotels in the Middle East
FORM HOTEL DUBAI
In the Culture Village area of Al Jaddaf on Dubai Creek, the 136-room Form Hotel Dubai has become the first Gulf hotel to make it into the Berlin-based Design Hotels brand. Elsewhere in the MENA region, the only other Design Hotels property is the Anayela in Marrakech, though in Turkey there are three in Istanbul and one in Capadoccia, and there are two in Cyprus.
The Dubai property currently has rooms from just Dh220 per night including taxes. The newbuild, 15-storey hotel is billed as a "technology-driven design hotel" with "understated yet sharp interiors", "art-deco inspired bespoke furniture" and has a three in-house restaurants with "wholesome menus crafted from sustainably-sourced ingredients", a pool, wellbeing "retreat", concept store and co-working space. It was designed by Amar Sabeh El Leil of the Paris-based Architecture Studio.
SAADIYAT ROTANA RESORT & VILLAS, ABU DHABI
The 340-room Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas opened on March 20th, with rates from Dh1,280 per night including taxes. This hotel offers 327 rooms and 13 beach villas, seven dining outlets including a gastropub and Italian restaurant, a Bodylines fitness centre and Zen spa, kid's club and mini golf course.
GRAND HYATT ABU DHABI HOTEL & RESIDENCES EMIRATES PEARL
Also in Abu Dhabi, the long-awaited opening of the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl, located in a new tower between Etihad Towers and the Bab Al Qasr hotel, will open its doors on June 1. Rooms cost from Dh555 per night including taxes. The luxury property will have 428 rooms, including 36 suites, and 60 full-service one- and two-bedroom residences. There are six restaurants and lounges, an infinity pool, spa, fitness centre and private cinema.
HOLIDAY INN DUBAI FESTIVAL CITY
A new, 19-storey, 508-room Holiday Inn hotel has opened at Dubai Festival City, with rooms from Dh274 per night including taxes. There are several restaurants and a lounge on the top floor. There is a gym, and indoor and outdoor pools, and the hotel is linked to IHG's other two hotels in the area, the InterContinental and Crowne Plaza, by an air-conditioned walkway.
CROWNE PLAZA RIYADH - RDC HOTEL AND CONVENTION CENTER, SAUDI ARABIA
IHG is also continuing its expansion in Saudi Arabia, with the opening of its 31st hotel in the country and 7th in the capital. The Crowne Plaza Riyadh - RDC Hotel and Convention Center has 326 rooms and is located in the Al Ra'idah Digital City (RDC), a mixed-use development that is expected to accommodate over 20,000 workers at multinationals, technology companies and government agencies, and up to 10,000 residents. The hotel has a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a health club and spa and Japanese and Brazilian restaurants.
PEARL ROTANA CAPITAL CENTRE, ABU DHABI
The Pearl Rotana Capital Centre at Adnec has 315 rooms and sits next to the existing Rotana Centro and Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana hotels. The new property is aimed at both business and leisure travellers and features five restaurants, a club lounge and a Bodylines Fitness & Wellness Club, which has a gym, rooftop pool and sauna, steam and massage rooms. Dining options include an Italian bistro and The Warehouse, a tapas bar. Rooms cost from Dh565 per night including taxes.
ROVE DUBAI MARINA
Rove Hotels, part of Emaar Hospitality Group, has launched the 5th property in its budget brand of "lifestyle hotels" offering style, convenience and value for money in key locations in Dubai. Rove Dubai Marina opened in April, with rooms from Dh282 per night including taxes in July, and from about Dh400 including taxes at busier times. It is located on Marina Promenade at the southern end of Dubai Marina, within walking distance of JBR beach, and has a 24-hour gym, pool, sundeck, a restaurant, meeting spacs and free self-parking and Wi-Fi. A buffet breakfast costs Dh55 and is free for children up to the age of 15. Check-in is 4pm and check-out 2pm.
ZABEEL HOUSE AL SEEF, DUBAI
Continuing this trend, the Dubai-based hospitality group Jumeirah has launched a new hotel brand to appeal to young, design-conscious travellers, with rooms going on sale from Dh528 per night including taxes.
Zabeel House, which Jumeirah says has been created "in response to the continuing and growing trend for exploration and enrichment through travel experiences", is kicking off with hotels in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, with the first property, Zabeel House Mini Alseef on Dubai Creek, opening on March 15. This was followed by Zabeel House Al Seef on May 15 and the next opening will be Zabeel House The Greens.
KEMPINSKI HOTEL MUSCAT, OMAN
Kempinski has opened its new resort hotel on Al Mouj ('The Wave') in Muscat. The hotel has 310 rooms and suites and 77 residences, 8 restaurants and lounges, a spa, kid's club, a 2km beach, 3 swimming pools, a bowling alley, ballroom and watersports facilities. Rooms cost from Omr 150 (Dh1,432) per night including taxes.
FOUR SEASONS TUNIS
Tunisia's first Four Seasons opened on December 15. The latest property in the Canadian luxury-hotel-management group’s expansion in the Middle East and North Africa is a resort-style hotel in affluent seaside suburb Gammarth, north of Tunis city centre and close to La Marsa, Sidi Bou Said and Carthage. The hotel has 200 rooms, many with outside spaces, plus a 500-metre beachfront, a Roman-inspired spa with 11 treatment rooms, three restaurants and two lounges. Rooms cost from €246 (Dh1,052) per night, including taxes. For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/tunis/.
FAIRMONT AMMAN, JORDAN
The Fairmont Amman has opened on the city’s 5th Circle, west of the centre and within walking distance of Abdoun and the diplomatic area. The new hotel has 317 rooms, a Willow Stream Spa with a Dead Sea pool, mud room and hammam, a fitness centre, hair salon and seven restaurants. Rooms cost from 189 Jordanian dinars (Dh979) per night, including taxes.
W AMMAN, JORDAN
Five minutes away in Abdali, the new commercial and residential district west of the city centre, Starwood Hotels opened the new W Amman on Feb 1. The 280-room property is located in a new 37-storey tower, with has four restaurants, plus a gym, spa and pool deck. There will also be seven floors of serviced apartments and a helipad. Rooms cost from 194 dinars (Dh1,005) per night, including taxes. There are four dining options, an outdoor heated pool, a large spa and gym.
BULGARI RESORT DUBAI
The new Bulgari Resort Dubai, which opened on Jumeira Bay Island from December 7, has 101 rooms and a 1,700sqm spa and room rates cost from Dh3,620 per night including taxes (www.bulgarihotels.com). The hotel is the first Bulgari hotel in the UAE and the company’s fifth worldwide.
RENAISSANCE DOWNTOWN DUBAI
An impressive new, 298-room Marriott has opened in Dubai’s Downtown area, with rooms from Dh969 per night including taxes. The Renaissance Downtown Dubai is located next to the canal and will have a Six Senses Spa and five restaurants.
INTERCONTINENTAL FUJAIRAH RESORT
On the UAE's east coast, the InterContinental Fujairah Resort opened on November 15. The 190-room hotel, which is the InterContinental Hotel Group’s first resort property in the Middle East, comprises a six-storey block running along Al Aqah Beach. It will feature four swimming pools, three bars and restaurants and a spa. Rooms cost from Dh1,674 per night, including breakfast, service and taxes.