It was a nice thought that sitting in a warm bubble bath, chilled drink in hand, I should be able to watch the twinkling lights of the Burj Khalifa from my suite. I didn’t do this eventually, but the possibility was happiness-inducing. The tallest tower in the world, standing just a couple of kilometres away, is perhaps a major selling point in a city where ‘Burj view’ commands a premium.
That the Oberoi Dubai has a spectacular setting in the Business Bay area doesn’t hurt — flanked by a crescent of water and the Sheikh Zayed Road, and facing Burj Khalifa, the hotel is engulfed by the quintessential Dubai signatures of wealth and ambition. It is, however, also a very intimate space. With just 252 rooms, it is almost a boutique hotel by Dubai standards. You won’t see the endless march of people across the lobby and distracted-looking staff so typical of many business hotels in the city. The Oberoi Dubai has a composed feel — it may have something to do with the décor. The red-and-white scheme running through all the spaces, from the lobby to the restaurant to the bedroom, strikes just the right balance of calmness and energy. Dubai’s theme colour, gold, is in the décor, its use far more subtle than what one sees elsewhere. There are dull gold sofa cushions in the rooms; a touch of matte gold in photo frames; ridged golden panels in the ceiling above the red-and-white lounge area at the lobby; lobby pillars shimmering with a golden translucency; golden geometrical patterns on neutral room rugs… you do know you’re in Dubai, without the Dubai overkill. To highlight the Oberoi’s Indian legacy, the walls have beautiful black-and-white photographs of India’s heritage sites.
All this I noted while being given a tour of the property, as my room was being “prepared”. Ah, they’re getting the chocolate tray, I thought, perked up. What they got was, in fact, better than mere chocolate — but more of that later.
The Oberoi Dubai is awash with the feel-good factor; must be all the natural light streaming in through the glass walls giving the old endorphins a rush. An outdoor area outside the all-day dining restaurant Nine 7 One (named after Dubai’s international call code) makes for a beautiful sitout facing water features, when the weather allows it. The pool area not only has a lounging space, but a bar counter, too, with a smiling barman ready to whip up a drink. The bathrooms deserve a special mention: all of them have one entire glass wall that shows the city outside. You could pull the curtains aside and do the champagne-in-the-bath thing — not advisable with lights on, if you put a premium on modesty.
Now I was about to be shown into my room, and it was, ta-da, the Presidential Suite. And what do I see there on the living room coffee table? The expected chocolates, yes, alongside a massive platter of Arabic sweets. The most startling surprise — can’t sound blasé about this; I’m not a movie star, after all — was that I was already in the room, even before the key was handed to me. A likeness of me was sitting on the table as a framed chocolate photograph, next to another chocolate rectangle with the immortal words: “Outlook Traveller.” An amazed moment later, vanity kicked in — wish they had got a cooler photograph!
This sort of thing would bring a smile to anyone’s face, no matter how bad the traffic was on the way. And that’s really the nicest thing about the Oberoi Dubai — the personal touch. The Presidential Suite has every super-luxurious detail one can imagine in such a suite in a very classy hotel, but even hard-to-please travellers would be touched by the fact that many of the staff members know them by name.
The suite, with its four main rooms — bedroom, living room, study, dining room — plus a dressing area and a utility room, has an uncomplicated layout and, of course, a superb Burj view. The streamlined décor makes the space relaxing; massive crystal chandeliers and sculptures placed here and there make it glamorous and interesting. Again a small regret: I didn’t do more than dip a toe into the private plunge pool adjoining the terrace just outside the suite’s living room. This would’ve been fun — and risqué. I’m sure the champagne would have tasted better here.
The reason I didn’t do such deliciously decadent things in my suite is that I was too busy eating. The Oberoi Dubai’s East Asian restaurant Umai was closed for renovation when I visited, but no matter — between them, Nine 7 One and the Indian restaurant Ananta kept the lovely meals coming. Even basic fare like a tomato mozzarella salad and a mushroom risotto was special at Nine 7 One. At Ananta, my guest and I were treated to a chef’s special menu that had bite-sized portions of the restaurant’s best items — some of them were about to be included in the regular menu. While the overall meal was fabulous, the stars were dahi ke kebab, date and almond kofta and the carrot halwa spring roll. A fish item served to my companion was declared “brilliant”.
Though the limited time did not allow for any plunge pool session, I did have a couple of therapies at the Oberoi Spa. The therapists were wonderful and I came out glowing and smelling of roses (and perhaps also patchouli, lemongrass and many other herbs). Each therapy room at the Oberoi Spa has its own steam room, a level of privacy I haven’t experienced anywhere else. The Oberoi Dubai has been voted ‘Middle East’s Leading Luxury City Hotel’ in a 2014 survey. If I had a vote, I wouldn’t hesitate to cast it in favour of this property.
Location Business Bay (Burj Area), Dubai, UAE. The Oberoi Dubai is 17.3km/25 mins from Dubai International Airport. Airport transfers, unless included in a special offer, are AED 275 each way for a limousine or AED 70 each way for a Lexus.
Accommodation The hotel has 252 rooms. The rooms are of three categories: deluxe (city views), luxury (view of Godolphin Stables or the sea) and premier (view of Burj Khalifa). There are three categories of suites: deluxe (separate living room), luxury (private balcony) and presidential (living room, dining room, study, terrace, pool), all with a view of Burj Khalifa.
Tariff From AED 2,900 (deluxe room) to AED 12,000 (presidential suite). Rates valid till December 31, 2014.
Contact +971-44441444, oberoihotels.com/oberoi_dubai