Le Royal Méridien
The perfect ingredients for a brilliant staycation? Great food, a lively atmosphere and all the facilities you could wish for on a family holiday – but right on your doorstep.
Luckily this hotel has them all and then some. Just over an hour down the highway we had escaped our hectic Dubai lifestyle and were lounging by a pool. Not for long though, as we’d been invited to the pool picnic brunch at PJ O’Reilly’s, which we’d been told was a must-do.
“This is the best table in the house,” the waitress told us, showing us to one that was outside, on the lawn, and right in front of where the resident band was going to play.
I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be so close and looked towards the bouncy castle and kids’ area at the back of the garden, but they were full. One number in and I was glad I hadn’t moved – the band was amazing.
To classics such as The Rolling Stones’ Honky TonkWoman, the lead singer, who resembled Jack Black from School of Rock, had the packed crowd up on their feet.
I twirled our little girl around the dance floor, then found myself doing a jive with my husband while my 11-year-old son rolled his eyes. Luckily there was the barbecue to distract him, and the food and the music kept everyone going back for more.
Hours flew by, and as the sun began to set, the band moved inside along to shouts of “Encore!” among the happy crowd. We would have followed, but we wanted to relax before our next meal – a fine-dining experience at the Café Palmier.
Upstairs in our room, which had recently been refurbished and boasted every mod con you could ever want, and a view overlooking the Arabian Gulf, we warned the children they were going to get their hands dirty.
Tonight they had to join the chefs and make their own dinner. My son has always fancied himself as a junior masterchef and happily donned a chef’s hat and whites to make pizza. Our little girl almost vanished standing behind the counter, but emerged 20 minutes later with one of the best margherita pizzas I’ve ever tasted. Our son’s had extra mozarella – just the way he likes it – and he quickly devoured it and slipped back into the kitchen to make some more.
Meanwhile we’d ordered lobster risoni and Angus beef fillet with wild mushroom sauce for my husband and deliciously spicy spaghetti all’arrabiata for me. It was shocking to see how quickly we emptied our plates – we’d spent most of the day laughing, dancing and eating. “Signs of a great holiday,” I thought.
We were meant to go cycling around the corniche the next morning but I turned off the alarm for a rare lie-in, before checking out the spa while the family hit the pool.
I’d been booked for a Phytoceane facial treatment, which uses natural marine ingredients to moisturise, plump and destress skin.
My therapist was incredible, and I emerged 90 minutes later, feeling refreshed and hoping I looked years younger.
Next it was my turn to play with the children while my husband went for a Thai massage. He’d been suffering from a bad back – caused, he said, by the dancing the day before – but came back smiling.
There was just time for what was supposed to be a light lunch at whEAT – but ended up being another feast thanks to the smorgasbord of food on offer. I opted for a tomato, rocket and mozzarella focaccia, while the rest of the family bit into huge grass-fed Angus burgers, which the children said were “Better than McDonald’s” – praise indeed.
And after soaking up the last of the afternoon sun, we reluctantly headed back to Dubai. We were only gone for a night but we felt recharged, and ready for the week ahead. It was our first stay at Le Royal Méridien, but it definitely won’t be our last.
whEAT serves up hearty lunchtime fare
Although it’s in the heart of the city, the hotel is still the perfect place to relax