Ritz Carlton DIFC
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.