Date of Last Visit: Late March, 2011
As I like to say to my FOX News-loving father, “They have hotels in Dubai too, you know.” When I go to Dubai, I think he’s imagining me out under the stars with the Bedouin. Not that that would be a bad thing. I’m 100% positive that would be totally awesome. Sand in the laptop though…that would be bad. (Having spent a fair chunk of time in Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria within the last 18 months, I am confident that even out under the stars, we would have wifi.)
The desk area in my hotel room was PERFECT. Great chair. And they included a US=>Europe plug adapter. (Newer properties in Dubai use European plugs, although you’ll find a lot of the older three-pronged outlets that I couldn’t quite figure out.) There was also an awesome one-cup Nespresso machine. Heaven.
Other things I loved about the Jumeirah Emirates Towers: seemless free wireless Internet access everywhere, free pick-up and drop-off from the DIFC, being attached to a mall (even if the mall was a little empty), finding a nail salon in the mall, the bar snacks at the bar on the top floor (mmmm wasabi peanuts), and the lovely wine list at the wine bar on the ground floor. Also, how when my purse broke, they brought me like 20 safety pins to try to fix it.
Is the Jumeirah Emirates Towers BIG? YES. Is it soulless? YES. Are the rooms a bit dated? YES. But is it convenient if you’re in Dubai for work and have to go back and forth to the DIFC? YES.
I’d stay here again.
Normally, I am more of the sort to get out and explore and traipse from one end of the city to another in search of lunch and dinner. (I can’t tell you how helpful Foursquare has been when traveling. Don’t know where you are but need someplace for lunch? Foursquare yourself. Awesome.)
This time around, due to a crazy work schedule and a massive sandstorm on my only free day in town that had all of the hotel staff walking around outside in face masks, I rarely left my hotel except for work meetings. (More on the hotel later.)
Here’s where I did eat though…
La Petite Maison, DIFC: When my colleague ditched me for lunch, I decided to head over to a place The Dubai Guzzler had recommended last time: La Petite Maison. Located in a corner of the Dubai International Finance Center, the restaurant is very pretty and bright. It’s also very corporate-y, which is a shame because I think it would be popular with a larger audience if not for its business-district location. I had a very lovely roast chicken and some thick cut chips, much to the disappointment of my very sweet server, who also wanted me to order a starter. Not at these prices! Verdict: Lovely. Pricey.
Tokyo @thetowers, Jumeirah Emirates Towers: Dubai seems to love all things Japanese, and my hotel had not one but TWO Japanese restaurants. I too tend to love all things Japanese, so I hit up Tokyo @thetowers for some mediocre and overly greasy yaki soba and indifferent service. Verdict: Meh.
Et Sushi, Jumeirah Emirates Towers: Nothing but not predictable, am I? So I wasn’t supremely hungry–jet lag is about the only time in the world when I can’t eat–but I hadn’t eaten in something like 12 hours, So I headed down to the Jumeirah’s upscale version of Yo Sushi, the popular UK sushi-by-conveyor-belt chain. Service was extremely attentive but not cloyingly so. They really wanted me to enjoy my meal, which ended up being one unagi roll and two salmon nigri. Seemed more reasonably priced than Tokyo @thetowers, but that could also be because I didn’t eat anything. Verdict: Not a destination, but nice just the same.
That’s all I’ve got for you this time, friends. Not sure I’ll be back to Dubai anytime soon, but I said that last time and was back less than two months later so you never know…
Dubai Radisson Blue, Media City
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Background: No one ever listens to me. When my colleagues and I were booking our trip to Dubai, I was in charge of airline tickets and someone else was in charge of hotel arrangements. I said, “Don’t book us in a hotel by Dubai Marina. We want to be south of the Burj Khalifa or otherwise, we’ll spend all our time in taxis.”
You can guess where this is going.
Where did he book us? Media City, which is about a five minute taxi ride from Dubai Marina and a 20 to 30 minute ride to the Dubai International Finance Centre, where most of our meetings took place. So we spent all our time in taxis. (That being said, we got a really good rate at the Dubai Radisson Media City…something like $225 a night. Much cheaper than most of the other business class hotels I had looked at.)
Anyhow, in the end, it didn’t really matter because this was quite a nice hotel. My flight got in around 6:30 a.m. and I was to my hotel at 8:30 a.m. I was in bed by 8:40 a.m. with this idea that I would wake up at noon and go shopping or spa-ing. (Spa-ing. Have I just created a new gerund?)
Again. You can guess where this is going. I woke up at 2:30 pm. Talk about a waste of a day!
I liked the desk at the hotel. It was a nice place to work, and I appreciated the coffee/tea service and the two bottles of complimentary water they left for me every night. (They also left chocolate on my pillow each night too!)
I also liked the slippers. So enamored am I with hotel slippers that I’ve started buying my own on Amazon. I hate it when hotels don’t provide slippers. Manky carpet and all that.
Best though was the spa at the Radisson, where my 1 hr 15 minute facial–by my first male therapist no less–turned into a two hour facial and my skin emerged more youthful than it’s been in years. I was very very pleased.
I never got a chance to try the fitness center, unfortunately. But I did visit the bar on the ground floor and the rooftop bar (not that either have anything to do with fitness). They were both nice in that they didn’t feel like hotel bars; they felt more like destinations. Also, I had a good meal in the hotel restaurant–Certo–where our service was amazingly lovely, although our mains fell short of the mark.
The Verdict: If you need to be in this part of town, you could do far worse than the Dubai Radisson Media City. It’s got all the amenities a business traveler could need, and the service is quite good. In short, this hotel is a very good option.
So yes, I eventually did make it to Dubai. Thank you to the Lufthansa agent who didn’t charge me the ridiculous amount of money he wanted to charge me to send me directly to Dubai instead of my original destination of Tel Aviv.
Now for those of you who are like my parents–maybe you get all your news from Fox News and are convinced that in the Middle East, everyone still rides camels and wears burqas and that one should “be careful”–here’s a quick video I made for my dad last time I was in town to prove that they do indeed have roads and cars in the United Arab Emirates and it’s all quite normal. My friend Chris is doing most of the narration because he has this insanely deep voice.
Back to the topic at hand…where to eat…This was my second visit to Dubai and being a bit longer than my first visit, I was able to have a bit more fun and get out and about a bit more…
Zuma, DIFC. For a place like this, their set lunch was an insanely good value at 120 AED per head, or $33 USD. After a very generous portion of miso soup, I loved the fresh and light salmon salad wrapped with rice paper. The seafood tempura was a bit overcooked, but still generally enjoyable. Best was the beef tenderloin with sesame and red chili. For 28 AED extra ($7.75), I helped myself to a slice of green tea cake. Nice ladies’ rooms and a great vibe overall.
Anar, Souk Madinat Jumeirah. I was traveling with a French-Iranian, a Spanish-Dutchman, and another American. When the French-Iranian (his parents returned back to Tehran many years after his grandfather was expelled during the revolution) offers to take you out for Persian food, you say yes. Now firstly, I have to admit that I love the Madinat Jumeirah big time. It’s like Epcot, only classier. So I was bound to love this place. And I loved that my co-worker Reza did all the ordering in Persian. The food, on the other hand, was only okay. I loved the mezze starters, but the mains (basically kebobs and rice) were uninspiring. I still think the Madinat Jumeirah is a great place to hang out though.
Al Nafoorah, Emirates Towers. Thanks to @duguzzler for sending us here. A lovely Lebanese looking out on the DIFC. Attentive service, great mezze. Fantastic set menu. And a 20% discount for using my American Express card. Not so touristy, which was nice after the Madinat Jumeirah. Is it a “must visit”? Probably not. But a great place for a business dinner and/or upscale Lebanese, for sure.
Caramel, DIFC. Fun atmosphere and could see this being a great after-work hang-out with the investment banking set. I really enjoyed my Asian chicken salad, but others complained the table was too small.
Certo, Media City. Really really lovely service. Excellent guidance on the wine list. Loved our starters of stuffed calamari. Thought our pasta mains were only okay. But because they were just so darn nice, I’d give this another shot. Is that odd?
I will admit that I also ate at Wagamama in Dubai Marina. It was fantastic. I’m sorry but once you’ve been without yaki soba for six months, maybe you’ll understand.