Sun­shine, beaches and fish and chips

KATHER­INE BAINBRIDGE heads to Dukes Dubai, a ho­tel bring­ing re­fine­ment to the cap­i­tal of con­sump­tion

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

WHERE in the world can you get guar­an­teed sun­shine, beau­ti­ful sandy beaches, and au­then­tic fish and chips?

The an­swer is Dukes Dubai, the sis­ter es­tab­lish­ment to Dukes Ho­tel in London, which aims to bring a bit of Bri­tish re­fine­ment to one of the world’s ritzi­est cities.

Sit­u­ated on the fa­mous Palm Jumeirah, the ho­tel is small by Dubai stan­dards with 279 rooms and 227 ser­viced apart­ments, giv­ing it a re­lax­ing, calm and al­most homely feel.

For­get cov­er­ing every­thing in gold leaf – at Dukes you can ex­pect dark wood, leather so­fas, and fur­nish­ings by Lib­erty Fab­rics that give the com­fort­able bed­rooms a pop of colour.

Mind you, the lobby does fea­ture a huge, and I mean huge, Swa­vorski crys­tal chan­de­lier that it ap­par­ently took six men three days to hang. Just so you don’t com­pletely for­get where you are.

Among the ho­tel’s many ameni­ties are an in­fin­ity pool, pri­vate beach (the only one on the Palm so we’re told), kids club, af­ter­noon tea lounge, cigar and whiskey room, mez­za­nine bar, and three restau­rants.

It also has some great quirky el­e­ments, such as the Duchess Floor which only takes fe­male guests, and is only ser­viced by fe­male staff.

As an all-fe­male party, this was where we stayed. And yes, I did feel a bit like a duchess as it goes.

Dukes Dubai opened with a soft launch at the end of March this year and some of the ho­tel was still un­der con­struc­tion while we were there – not that this is un­usual for Dubai, there is con­struc­tion go­ing on ev­ery­where (a huge mega mall is be­ing built right op­po­site Dukes) and once you’re inside you wouldn’t know.

Once fin­ished it will also boast a float­ing swim­ming pool, spa and fit­ness cen­tre.

One of the main fo­cuses of the ho­tel is, of course, eat­ing and drink­ing, and we had a great time sam­pling a good pro­por­tion of what was on of­fer.

The three restau­rant of­fer­ings are GBR (Great Bri­tish Restau­rant), New York-style steak house West 14th, and In­dian restau­rant Khy­ber (we Brits do love our curry af­ter all), which we were treated to a sneak pre­view of as it wasn’t yet open to the pub­lic on our visit.

All op­er­ate un­der the watch­ful eye of ex­ec­u­tive chef Martin Cahill, who grew up in Bolton – so we can claim him as a Man­cunuian – and has hand­picked his team from all over the world.

Khy­ber is a sis­ter es­tab­lish­ment to the fa­mous Mum­bai restau­rant of the same name, so is as au­then­tic as it gets, and is on the 15th floor with breath­tak­ing views of the city.

Among the dishes we sam­pled were Tan­doori Murgh, Murgh Ka­gani, Nalli Ni­hari and Maa ki Dal, and all were com­pletely de­li­cious.

Those au­then­tic fish and chips came from GBR, as did one of the most var­ied and ex­cit­ing break­fast buf­fets I have ever seen.

We also sam­pled an ex­cel­lent af­ter­noon tea in the afore­men­tioned lounge, and a fa­mous Dubai brunch at West 14th.

Brunch in Dubai is a huge thing – it takes place on a Fri­day, the main week­end day – and peo­ple pay a set price to eat and drink for hours.

And I can see why; the desert buf­fet alone would have kept me go­ing for days, never mind hours.

Plus it’s very (and I mean very) ex­pen­sive to drink in Dubai, so an all-you-can-drink deal is some­thing to be taken ad­van­tage of; though as it’s 40C in spring, tak­ing it easy is ad­vis­able.

One of the things Dukes London is fa­mous for is its bar – and more specif­i­cally its mar­ti­nis, which are said to have in­spired Ian Flem­ing to write James Bond’s fa­mous ‘shaken not stirred’ line, and have also made the trip to the UAE.

The Ves­per mar­tini, which I can’t fully re­call the in­gre­di­ents off even though it was made in front us and ex­plained in de­tail (pos­si­bly as a re­sult of drink­ing it), is al­most worth the trip alone... just don’t try to op­er­ate any heavy ma­chin­ery af­ter­wards.

The ho­tel has a lovely, calm feel which is due in no small part to the won­der­ful staff, who could not have been more wel­com­ing or help­ful dur­ing our stay (and I speak as the kind of an­noy­ing guest who im­me­di­ately loses their room key card on the beach).

As­sum­ing you can drag your­self away from the ho­tel, the pool, the beach, the food, and the mar­ti­nis, Dubai of­fers plenty of di­ver­sions.

If you like shop­ping, you’ll be in sev­enth heaven, with the Mall of Dubai and the Mall of the Emi­rates of­fer­ing thou­sands of square feet of high end re­tail (plus the chance to spot the su­per­cars cruis­ing by out­side – I ticked ‘gold Fer­rari’ off the Dubai bingo list), while the souks in the old town ped­dle every­thing from spices and dates to gold and sil­ver jew­ellery.

I’d rec­om­mend a trip to the top of the Burj Khal­ifa; the world’s tallest build­ing, which dwarfs the mas­sive sky­scrapers that sur­round it.

As­sum­ing you have a head for heights, stand­ing right up against the glass and look­ing down is quite an ex­pe­ri­ence.

If you can, go at dusk to watch the city go dark and the lights come on, and then de­scend to see the danc­ing foun­tains give their fa­mous Las Ve­gas coun­ter­parts a run for their money.

If you’re look­ing for a break from city life, a desert sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence is a great way to go.

We were with the Dubai Tourism Board and went dune driv­ing (quite a lot like be­ing on a roller­coaster – best not to eat too much be­fore­hand...), sand board­ing, shisha smok­ing, and en­joyed a de­li­cious bar­be­cue un­der the stars.

A pretty good way to spend a day.

Dubai is only a seven hour flight, and the time dif­fer­ence is just three hours, so it’s per­fect for short breaks as well as longer hol­i­days; we got loads done in just three days as well as spend­ing plenty of time by the pool.

So why not get a bit of sun­shine in your life? Just take it easy on those mar­ti­nis.

The view from Dukes Dubai

The lobby

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