Ritz Carl­ton DIFC

Friday - - Hot List -

Feels like… Lon­don, Eng­land The decor is uber cool, the de­sign ul­tra-mod­ern and the lo­ca­tion is fan­tas­tic so it’s no won­der Dubai’s Ritz Carl­ton re­minds me of the lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels in Ca­nary Wharf, Lon­don’s trendy fi­nan­cial dis­trict.

There, guests at the iconic steel and glass ho­tels over­look the cap­i­tal’s Ca­nary Wharf Tower and have Jamie Oliver’s Ital­ian restau­rant on their doorstep. Here, the Ritz Carl­ton stands in the shadow of the world’s tallest build­ing, the Burj Khal­ifa, and counts the gas­tro­nomic greats of The Gau­cho, Caramel, Roberto’s and Marco Pierre White’s Wheeler’s as its neigh­bours.

But while there are a clutch of five-star re­treats in the heart of Lon­don’s East End, the Ritz Carl­ton is the only ho­tel in DIFC.

That means it doesn’t have any com­pe­ti­tion and could have got away with be­ing a bland so-what type of ho­tel. But the clever peo­ple be­hind this spec­tac­u­lar Ritz Carl­ton didn’t want a vanilla of­fer­ing, sim­ply vy­ing for the well-heeled but hardly in­spir­ing busi­ness trav­eller clien­tele. That’s why they’ve made their suites and fam­ily rooms an op­u­lent French art deco af­fair with sump­tu­ous fur­nish­ings – all silk, suede and leather with ac­ces­sories in gold, sil­ver and duck egg blue – and mar­ble bath­rooms com­plete with sunken bath and flatscreen TV.

We had a two-bed­room suite that was big­ger than the aver­age pent­house back in Lon­don, and could have spent the en­tire stay there, watch­ing movies – in the bath, in the mir­ror above the bath­room sink (which made our chil­dren happy to brush their teeth for ages!) and on one of the gi­ant plasma TVs: one in each bed­room and in the liv­ing room, which had din­ing and study ar­eas, but we wanted to ex­plore.

So we headed to the 13th Floor Club Lounge, which of­fered com­pli­men­tary canapés, drinks and a concierge to cater to our ev­ery whim. That meant marsh­mal­low sweets for my fiveyear-old daugh­ter, dough­nuts for my 10-year-old son and a lit­tle bit of peace and quiet for me and my hus­band.

Rested, we headed to an area of the ho­tel that would not ex­ist in its Lon­don coun­ter­part – an out­door swim­ming pool on the roof top. What would be the point when the Bri­tish weather is 90 per cent driz­zle and grey clouds com­pared to Dubai’s sunny-all-year-round cli­mate? We adults soaked up the rays, while the chil­dren splashed up and down work­ing up an ap­petite.

Luck­ily we were all rav­en­ous by the time we hit the No5 Lounge & Bar. We opted to sit out­side on the ter­race – the tem­per­a­ture hadn’t yet hit siz­zling – and it meant we could re­lax to the sounds of the res­i­dent DJ while my hus­band or­dered mouth-wa­ter­ing sushi, sashimi, lob­ster and Wagyu beef tar­tar. Be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian, I or­dered the de­li­cious aubergine with ri­cotta rolls, grilled hal­loumi br­uschetta and stuffed mush­rooms, while the chil­dren tucked into tapas be­fore danc­ing along to the disco to the amuse­ment of the other guests.

Full, we strolled back up­stairs to our suite and tried to con­vince our chil­dren to go to sleep while we flicked through the mul­ti­tude of TV chan­nels. Even­tu­ally, I de­cided there was only one thing to do when stay­ing in such a swanky ho­tel and that was to watch TV in the bath. Af­ter an hour’s soak – just enough to catch up on Sky News – I fell into a deep slum­ber.

Af­ter a lie-in the next day, we went for a full-on English break­fast with scram­bled eggs, grilled toma­toes, toast, baked beans and cups of tea, fol­lowed by a visit to the spa.

I’d opted for the East Meets West Sig­na­ture Mas­sage, which used aro­matic oils and var­i­ous tech­niques to tackle the knots in my shoul­ders and neck. Dur­ing 80 min­utes my ther­a­pist mas­saged my tired limbs and made me feel so re­laxed I al­most fell asleep.

I left in a Zen-like state, grate­ful that I’d come for a mini-break at the Ritz Carl­ton. At the end of our stay we all felt like we’d been on a hol­i­day more ex­cit­ing than vis­it­ing Lon­don - af­ter all we’d ex­pe­ri­enced all the glam­our with­out hav­ing to take an aero­plane and with­out a drop of rain in sight.

DE­TAILS: Rooms from Dh1,725. The Ritz-Carl­ton, DIFC Sig­na­ture Mas­sage, 80 min­utes, Dh620. For reser­va­tions call 04 372 2555. For spa book­ings email difc­spa@ritzcarl­ton.com.

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