With its bold architecture, more-is-more mentality and east-meets-west culture, Dubai is unlike anywhere else on the planet. And with guaranteed sunshine 365 days of the year – we wouldn’t recommend visiting between June – September though, unless you enjoy holidaying in an oven – it’s a popular hotspot for some winter sun.
Nestled right in the heart of one of the city’s most popular landmarks, the Palm Jumeirah, Dukes Dubai is an elegant yet buzzy choice of hotel, and as the sister of Dukes London, has perfectly recreated its sophisticated British style in the desert. We checked in for a long weekend of delicious cuisine, stellar drinks and top-notch relaxation.
After a six-and-a-half-hour flight from London, our overnight British Airways flight landed in Dubai at 6.30am, meaning our taxi was speeding up the west side of the Palm’s trunk to Dukes by 8.30am – well before the 12.30pm check-in time. We were resigned to catching a few hours’ sleep beside the infinity pool – trust me, there are much worse places to grab forty winks – but the highly-polished front desk had arranged early check in; just one of the exemplary acts of service we experienced during the stay.
Feeling peckish? Breakfast is generally included in the room rate, but if you’re arriving early on your first day, you can delve into the sumptuous breakfast buffet for half of the regular price (£20). The dazzling foyer boasts an unforgettable chandelier that dominates the lobby which is complemented with stunning bouquets of flowers, and the attentive staff are always on hand to welcome you with a cool towel for the hot weather.
With 279 rooms, 64 suites and 287 one-bedroom apartments, it’s safe to say Dukes isn’t short of space – and neither was our suite. We were greeted with an office-slash-living space with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, a large double bedroom, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and separate bathroom, decorated in neutral shades of brown and cream with dark wood furniture.
While the décor wasn’t as modern as you would expect in a five-star Dubai hotel, the bed was cloud-like and the amenities, including coffee machine and huge separate bathtub, most definitely did their job.
The hotel backs onto an existing residential complex which slightly impacted the views from our balcony, but we were still able to enjoy a couple of G&Ts at the end of each night with a partial view of the ocean to lull us into a dreamy sleep.
Ladies looking for a little extra privacy should opt for one of the Duchess rooms – designed for female travellers and served by female staff, they feature soft furnishings with Liberty prints as well as thoughtful extras such as hair straighteners.
Food and drink
A breakfast buffet is legitimately one of my favourite things about hotel stays, and the feast at Dukes doesn’t disappoint. Held in the glamorous brasserie-style Great British Restaurant (GBR), we filled up on everything from pastries, cold cuts, waffles and pancakes, while there’s also a live eggs station for an omelette of your choice. As with most big hotel chains there’s no a la carte menu available, and keep in mind you won’t find any form of pork served up alongside your other British favourites, so it’s veal sausages to go with your full English.
Aside from GBR, Dukes operates two other stand alone restaurants – West 14th, a poolside fine-dining restaurant specialising in steak, and Khyber, which offers authentic Indian cuisine and some of the finest curries in Dubai. Dukes also boasts a gorgeous tea salon, whisky lounge and Dukes Bar, where a martini is an absolute must. Bartenders are trained by Alessandro Palazzi, Dukes London’s legendary head bartender, and will expertly mix up a cocktail even James Bond would be proud of.
The first international outpost of the famous Mumbai restaurant, Khyber’s standouts include green masala pomfret and tandoor-coked baby lamb leg, with the venue spread over one floor of the hotel with its own bar area, terrace, many seating booths and a huge private dining room. Plus, surprisingly for Dubai, not a single spice powder is used in its kitchen; instead, everything is ground, pounded and fried from scratch.
Craving succulent meat and a chilled out atmosphere after a few heavy Dubai days, we dined at the Manhattan-style steak house West 14th on our final evening, and enthusiastically indulged in all the top quality beef we could stomach. It was all washed down with a bottle of Rioja and some of the most beautiful views of the Persian Gulf and Dubai Marina skyline – not too shabby at all, if I do say so myself.
As per Dubai tradition, West 14 also hosts a lavish Friday brunch. I use the term brunch loosely seeing as the event itself starts at 1pm, and guests can indulge in an unlimited spread of smoky barbequed meats, grilled seafood and decadent desserts alongside free-flowing alcohol for three hours, all for £50.
When it comes to the hotel’s outdoor facilities, Dukes’ infinity pool is the cream of the crop. Overlooking the hotel’s private beach with a stunning view of the Dubai Marina skyline, it’s the ideal spot to while away the day in some very un-British weather. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s a menu of traditional poolside staples – opt for one of their crispy pizzas for the win – before indulging in some Happy Hour cocktails as the sun goes down.
Elsewhere in the hotel there’s a state-of-the-art fitness centre and gym, temperature-controlled indoor pool perfect for laps, and if you come with little ones in tow, there’s also a kid’s club with indoor and outdoor play areas and a weekly activity schedule based on the Happy Minds children’s entertainment programme.
Dukes might not be up there with some of Dubai’s more impeccable five-star hotels, but if you’re looking for a mix of glamour and home comforts with one of the most competitive prices in the city, you could do much worse.
Rooms can be booked from £188 per night.
British Airways flies to Dubai from London with prices starting from £346 based on return fare in World Traveller (economy).
Address: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Phone: +9715 4 455 1111