Unlike many of the chain hotels in Dubai, it feels like a little bit of Europe - simple, smart and practical.
The Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Dubai
The Mövenpick is set discreetly into the background of JBR, almost missable. Its unassuming exterior is mirrored by the very simple, clean design on the inside. On arrival, the staff are attentive, greeting guests with fresh juice and cold towels.
There is plenty to do in the surrounding area, which has become a Mediterranean oasis in a city where street cafe culture barely exist. Cafes and restaurants line the cobbled street and at the weekends the street market has a range of arts and crafts to browse through. Just across the road from the hotel is a trendy public beach with a handful of small boutiques and interior design shops close by. It feels more like part of a resort than a city hotel, in spite of not having its own beach.
The crowd is a mixed bag of couples, business travellers and families but has more of a "grown up" vibe than most places, without the constant leapfrogging over pushchairs and toddlers. Getting into the lift, you could be mistaken into thinking you were in a European city with the range of Scandinavian-esque languages you hear. For young people it's a great location - next door to places like Trader Vic's and Buddha Bar, and yet for the older clientele and families it is a lovely environment to relax without needing to leave the hotel and head into the city.
As a stickler for good beds and pillows, I was very happy with the room. The bathroom opens out onto the bedroom through folding wooden doors, which gives a nice sense of light and space. The furniture is simple, with a spacious desk for people with work to do and a lovely L-shaped sofa to stretch out on. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to Atlantis on Palm Island, which from that distance looks awesome.
Nothing was too much trouble. We wanted to take the family on a boat trip, so the concierge happily did all the research for us to hire a boat for the day. He also booked us a taxi for six that arrived in minutes - quite a feat in Dubai - so all in all helped to make the stay very easy. The staff in the restaurants are very attentive, quick to serve but not overwhelming.
The chefs have been well-chosen. The chef de cuisine at the West Beach Bistro, Jason Wass, worked alongside Gordon Ramsay in the UK before being brought out to his restaurant Verre in Dubai. The executive chef, Spencer Black, was formerly at the nearby Buddha Bar. It's reflected in the food - buffet at The Talk always had a fantastic selection of salads, hot food, sushi and dessert, and the breakfasts were equally indulgent. The sushi is terrific.
The laid-back poolside terrace. On a cool evening, the grassy terrace offers a welcome respite from the crowds of The Walk. It is also licensed, meaning that whether you fancy a cup of coffee and shisha or a glass of wine, it is a peaceful place to sit and chat while looking out to the ocean. It is located on the same level as the main restaurant, The Talk, which combines a sushi bar, à la carte dining and a buffet, so in the good weather it is great to be able to sit outside and eat without the constant rumbling of cars.
The service out by the pool bar; staff are still in training and were not very attentive; there also weren't enough of them.
In spite of its size, with nearly 300 rooms, it feels warm and welcoming. Unlike many of the chain hotels in Dubai, it feels like a little bit of Europe - simple, smart and practical. I loved the fact that it had a well-equipped gym, meaning that in spite of sampling some fantastic food I could burn it off later. The spa treatments were also very good. I had the aromatherapy massage (Dh395) and the essential deep-cleansing Pevonica facial (Dh420), possibly the best facial I have had in two years.
It's still in the soft launch stage, so take advantage of the lower prices. The rate for nationals and residents is US$196 (Dh720) including taxes, on a room only basis (www.moevenpick-hotels.com; 04 449 8888). firstname.lastname@example.org