KING PIN

GLIT­TER­ING AND BOLD, W DUBAI AL H AB TO OR CITY–THE WILD CHILD OF THE HOTELCOMPLEX TRIO–BOWL SA CLEAN STRIKE AS ONE OF TH EU A E’ S MOST PLAY­FUL STAYS, WRITES LAU­REL M UN SHOWER

Destination of the World News - - DESTINATIONS -

In­ever imag­ined a ho­tel would sum­mon up the nostal­gia of a rel­a­tively for­got­ten as­pect of my youth: par­ties and get­to­geth­ers at bowl­ing al­leys i n the United States – though ad­mit­tedly, not a favourite pas­time of mine given my in­cred­i­ble lack of skill in the sport. Stay­ing at the W Dubai Al Habtoor City, how­ever, helps me to re­mem­ber the best parts of a night out at the lanes: a cease­less at­mos­phere of en­ergy and life, thump­ing music, and au­da­cious eye-catch­ing dé­cor. Through­out the ho­tel glit­ter-in­fused floors, metal­lic mar­bled pan­els rem­i­nis­cent of bowl­ing balls, and striped cor­ri­dors in Pan­tone-per­fect blue, pur­ple, black and white of­fer a throw­back to the joys of my teenage years, all the while po­si­tion­ing it­self firmly in adult­hood with an ar­ray of cock­tails, buffed and bronzed bod­ies strut­ting pool­side, and danc­ing late into the night at a glam top-floor club. And the suites’ cir­cu­lar beds? A thing of dreams 20 years ago. There is lit­tle that is laid back about the W brand, and I’m im­mersed in its dis­tinct at­mos­phere from check-in on level 30, where the desks are sur­rounded by vast city views over­look­ing Sheikh Zayed Road and the new Dubai Canal to the Gulf, and ad­ja­cent to the buzzy W/Lounge, which is touted as the ho­tel’s so­cial cen­tre and “liv­ing room” for guests. It’s some­where I’ll have to check out later on, as in no time I’m es­corted to my Fan­tas­tic Suite, 117 square me­tres of retro-fu­tur­is­tic style in a striking black-and-white pal­ette. Tak­ing up one of the ho­tel’s cor­ners with views over Sheikh Zayed Road to the sea and over the ho­tel’s pool ter­race to­wards the Dubai Ma­rina, ev­ery­thing about the suite seems to call for your at­ten­tion. The open­lay­out space fea­tures a bed­room and liv­ing area po­si­tioned back to back, with plenty of white so­fas fit to en­ter­tain a small party. Also fit to en­ter­tain that party is a bar area with a glow­ing, pearles­cent frame and a cock­tail shaker to ac­com­pany a bot­tle of Grey Goose, and mini­bar stocked with mix­ers and Veuve Cliquot. A wall of mir­rors make the space feel even more am­ple, and hide (look for the cute “pull me” stick­ers) plenty of closet space for all your nightout (BOA Lounge & Club), bot­tom­less-brunch ( ev­ery Fri­day after­noon at Level Seven) and pool-party (WET Deck) out­fits. I swiftly found my­self imag­in­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of host­ing birthdays or other events in the room – if only

it were avail­able to book for just the day. Lucky for me, I’m in­formed that’s def­i­nitely within the realm of pos­si­bil­ity, and guest room day rates are listed at around a 30 per cent dis­count from the usual overnight. The fo­cal point of the bed­room is un­ques­tion­ably that over­sized cir­cu­lar bed (which also hap­pens to be very com­fort­able), but the en suite bath­room, with its light-up coun­ters, and ca­pa­cious walk- in rain shower with floor- to­ceil­ing win­dows over­look­ing the Dubai Canal, is dif­fi­cult to ig­nore. With its over­ar­ch­ing party feel, form over­tak­ing func­tion is most ap­par­ent here; I am un­able to find some­where to hang my used tow­els, and the place­ment of the stand­alone bath­tub op­po­site the bath­room on the other side of the bed­room is per­haps a bit puz­zling. But af­ter some time in the room, the ran­domly placed tub and tow­els tossed in­sou­ciantly around the floor seem to suit the vibe of the space: care­free and fo­cused on fun. In any case, I’m quickly dis­tracted by the ex­cel­lent lemon and sage Bliss toi­letries (the body but­ter is par­tic­u­larly wor­thy of nick­ing) from W’s sig­na­ture spa brand – which un­for­tu­nately is not a fea­ture at this W prop­erty, but sis­ter-ho­tel Westin’s (page 67) Heav­enly Spa is within easy reach, con­nect­ing to the ad­ja­cent prop­erty on level seven. Need­less to say, room ser­vice is an op­tion, but there’s lit­tle rea­son to stay hun­kered down in the room when W Dubai is a ver­i­ta­ble on­estop-shop of week­end an­tics thanks to on-site din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment that take guests from morn­ing to, well… the next morn­ing. Level Seven is the all- day din­ing venue, and with its chic coun­try-kitchen style, it stands out in a ho­tel that seems to wish to be the fur­thest thing from a south­ern Euro­pean hol­i­day in some charm­ing vil­lage lo­cale. It is, how­ever, a nice change of pace (es­pe­cially at break­fast when you may not be quite ready for the party at­mos­phere, or are per­haps still re­cov­er­ing from last night’s) with light woods and in­nu­mer­able jars, pots, pans and other kitchen ac­cou­trements mak­ing up light­ing fix­tures hang­ing from the ceil­ing. Bright and airy, it of­fers a breath of fresh air – not to men­tion a menu of rus­tic Mediter­ranean cui­sine loaded with cured meats, creamy bur­rata, grilled pro­teins and a crudo bar. When evening be­gins to fall, W/Lounge is a good place to start with a cock­tail – likely pre­sented with dec­o­ra­tive flair to match the sur­round­ings be­fore head­ing off to din­ner. Just up­stairs from the 30th-floor lounge, 31st-floor NAMU en­cour­ages the prop­erty’s so­cial at­mos­phere with a menu of shar­ing plates boast­ing Korean and Ja­panese fu­sion cui­sine – mix­ing and min­gling on the ta­ble are dishes such as kim­chi and tataki, fried chicken and Ja­panese veg­eta­bles with katsu. And as the evening ramps up, it’s time to head one level higher, to the 32nd floor, where the party at BOA Lounge & Club goes into the morn­ing hours. One of W’s trade­marks is WET Deck – the brand’s unique pool ar­eas are found across its prop­er­ties around the world, and in­cite pool­party fun from day to night. The Dubai ho­tel’s ren­di­tion is no dif­fer­ent, al­though ad­mit­tedly a bit on the quiet side in the city’s mid-sum­mer heat. When the mer­cury drops in the au­tumn months, I imag­ine the scene at W Dubai’s WET Deck will, in turn, heat up. It’s tai­lor-made for groups of friends with dis­crete pool and Jacuzzi ar­eas sur­rounded by plush sun­loungers, ban­quettes and spacey hive-like ca­banas amid a sound­track of laid-back beats. Add to that two bar ar­eas (one of which is also a café, but is closed in the sum­mer months), a DJ booth and those afore-men­tioned buffed and bronzed bod­ies, and you’ve got your­self a W pool party. Slip­ping into the wa­ter, the floor­ing of brightly coloured peb­bles sooth­ing my feet, I’m of­fered a freshly chilled towel to drape across my neck to com­bat the after­noon tem­per­a­tures. It’s just the thing to re­lax be­fore par­tak­ing in an­other night of revelry, which though re­hashes some whim­si­cal teenage mem­o­ries, hits ev­ery pin in cre­at­ing a grown-up play­ground.

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