Staring out at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at night, the city streets far below a neon racetrack, one wonders how George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – so synonymous with New York – would sound like played on an oud?
For sitting in the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai’s Horizon Lounge gazing out at the world’s tallest building (it still is) illuminated against the dusk it’s hard to think that the composer would have objected to an Arabic twist to his musical portrait of the city he loved, writes Scott Armstrong.
Panning down to the streets below the busy lights of the traffic on the Sheikh Zayed Road blur to create the illusion that a timelapse film is playing out beneath you. All in all it’s a vista to be savoured, especially with something chilled in one’s hand.
The Shangri-La Hotel Dubai is one of the venues in the busy emirate that simply works, it does exactly what you need it to, billing itself an oasis in the heart of the city.
This traveler had come seeking a comfortable spot from which to assault Dubai Mall as a major shopping expedition was long overdue. I knew that this would be a perilous mission that would test my stamina to its limits. This would be no quick raiding party, rather a sustained marathon of a campaign, two days of retail trench warfare that would sap the spirit and drain the soul.
Therefore one needed a five-star base of operations from which to launch the forays and the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai more than ably acquitted itself for such an endeavor. A luxury haven to retreat to after hours of forced marching, wading through a quagmire of tourists and locals in the world’s biggest mall (I think it still is?).
I’d picked Shangri-La primarily based on past experience, enjoying excellent service at its Abu Dhabi property and being enchanted by its beautiful Barr Al Jissah resort and spa in Muscat, Oman.
While the Dubai property perhaps doesn’t have the space of those two properties to roll out horizontally it instead concentrates on climbing high with its luxury offering.
Wisely I chose the one-bedroom suite with access to the Horizon Club, the hotel’s excellent club lounge with the generous view and a generous happy hour (with generous staff when pouring), which proved to be just the thing to revive my flagging mind and body after torture at the tills.
The suite itself provided a quiet, spacious haven away from the madding crowds of the mall. The private lounge area removed any hotel claustrophobia, giving the guest the room to breathe without tripping up over suitcases (indeed it also provided a handy second bedroom for a teenager son).
The main bedroom itself was an equally comfortable affair, the crisp white linen stretched across the huge bed, combined with panoramic views of Dubai intensified the feeling of space and light. Add to that a private dressing area and a huge spa-like bathroom with a deep marble bath for soaking in and a monsoon shower for re invigoration.
To refuel the Horizon Club does offer a selection of snacks but of course the hotel offers a number of choices, with Shang Palace being one of its better known brands, however Hoi An is an excellent alternative serving up food from Vietnam.
Perhaps what makes this restaurant stand out is the passion for the food served by the restaurant team, who are entirely Vietnamese. They are rightly proud of the dishes they serve and their enthusiasm is so infectious one could hardly dream of not enjoying the meal set before you.
All in all Shangri-La Hotel Dubai serves up a hotel which ticks all the five-star boxes, and in fairness it probably deserves two ticks in each box.