Where is it? The St. Regis Dubai hotel is part of the new Al Habtoor City urban development – named after the visionary Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor – which is located in Dubai’s Business Bay region. Having opened in November, this five-star resort is the first of three new hotels to be completed, with the W and Westin hotels set to open their doors later this month. While at six storeys it is far from small, in Dubai – where towers are more common than houses – its presence is dwarfed by the daunting skyscrapers in the distance. Perhaps the only downside to staying in Al Habtoor is that guests may find the constant journeys into the main part of Dubai exhausting, as aside from a small convenience store, shops and restaurants are far and few between around the hotel.
However, it is conveniently just a few minutes’ walk to the Business Bay metro station which is well-connected, while its location adjacent to the Sheikh Zayed arterial road means you are just a 15-minute taxi ride from downtown Dubai. The iconic Jumeirah Beach is a further 10 minutes away and the Dubai International Airport is around 30 minutes from the hotel. And if you are feeling out of the loop, at least you have the best view of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, which glistens at night with the help of thousands of small flickering lights.
Style? If other hotels are luxury, then St Regis must be ultra-luxury. Leading up to the hotel’s entrance is a long stretch of road accompanied by immaculately-kept gardens with fountains. If it seems extravagant, it is well-matched by what is inside, with the grand interior providing a sublime mixture of luxury and contemporary design. You could be forgiven for forgetting that you’re in the middle of the desert and not New York, such is the traditional décor of the rooms.
In the lobby, once greeted by the hotel’s concierge staff at the main entrance, the two stunning marble staircases come into view – the theme of marble is prominent throughout the hotel – with a large crystal chandelier which would not be unfamiliar in a James Bond film. Coincidentally, there just so happened to be a black-tie ball event when I arrived, with guests strolling about in lavish dresses and smart tuxedos.
Facilities: The rooftop pool area is as quiet as they come as you are cordoned off from the rest of Dubai by high walls and the iconic dome structure on the top of the hotel. The pool splits into three parts that circulates around the dome with sun loungers and massage beds available. If in need for some relaxation, the Iridium Spa provides tranquillity and peace in the form of dozens of different treatments including a steam room, sauna and Turkish bath area. The more active guests may prefer to work out at the hotel’s fitness centre.
Extra-curricular: The hotel is a fair distance from the beach but the hotel’s concierge service will have a list of activities ready for you, which it can organise aswell. The dune buggying in the desert is highly recommended, where an early-rise drive cruising over the Emirati desert’s sloped hills is followed by a buffet lunch afterwards. There are also safaris to go on, the main waterparks – Aquaventure at Atlantis and Wild Wadi water park in Jumeirah are a lot of fun for those seeking some thrills. And if you are not daunted by heights, check out the breathtaking Burj Khalifa tower.
Food and Drink: The hotel prides itself on producing some of the finest cuisine from around the world with its three main restaurants: J&C Steakhouse, the Parisian-inspired Café Fleuri and Le Patio, a courtyard bistro, and on the second floor guests with breakfast can make their way to the Brasserie Quartier for a traditional continental breakfast. I dined at the J&C Steakhouse where you can sample some of the finest meat dishes on offer.
On the menu there is a 1kg tomahawk to share between two guests, but I went for the tenderloin steak which was tremendous. Succulent, cooked to perfection and mixed with a smoky, charcoal top, it was among the best I have tasted. The hotel celebrates the Champagne Sabering, a ritual of day turning to night, with complimentary champagne and canapés. The sophisticated champagne lounge, with silky sofas and cushioned booth areas, is very much worth a visit. Among my favourite selections were the strawberry and gin martini, which was refreshing after a long day in the sun, and the peach and prosecco cocktail – aptly named the ‘St Regis’.
Which room? The 234-room hotel consists of a range of room types, from the standard deluxe to your more up-market suites such as the Bentley Suite, with some walls decorated with leather from the car’s interior and other memorabilia. The best in the hotel is without question the remarkable Sir Winston Churchill Suite, which comprises of three bedrooms, three bathrooms and its own pool and bar inside the hotel’s stylish dome.
I stayed in the Caroline Astor Suite, named after the mother of founder John Jacob Astor IV, and I was stunned by its excellence. Through the double doors is a large hallway with rooms in all directions – and only then do you understand the sheer size of it. This is one of the 52 suites in the hotel and each one comes with your own personal butler who even offers to unpack your clothes (I politely declined). The king-size bed is the pinnacle of comfort and for those who enjoy a large flat screen TV, there is one in each room. It also features an impressive walk-in wardrobe, with a hanging rack on both sides of the room. The spacious living area is with three sofas and a conjoining study for the more business-focused guests to concentrate on their work. The appearance of fresh fruit and sweet Arabian delicacies on the table was a small but nice touch to epitomise the homely feel to this room.
Equally impressive is the bathroom, decorated with a mixture of marble and cream walls, complete with a double sink area and mirror and a long bath tub; an ideal fit for a couple looking to relax. And if the walk-in shower area doesn’t amaze you, nothing will.
Best for? Perfect for business types who desire a short but luxurious stay. You’re very much out of the loop and the tourist part of Dubai, so for couples who are seeking a relaxing few days in Dubai without disruption will find this quite delightful. The temperature often reaches the high 30s in the summer, so anyone who likes to relax by the pool will find the hotel’s rooftop area to their taste.
When should you go? Dubai is hotter than the UK all-year round, so you can take your pick about when to go. But locals advise that during the summer months, the temperature can become unbearable in the afternoon when the heat is at its strongest, so perhaps November is your best bet to escape the torrid weather. Also, avoid going during Ramadan. While it may seem to be an interesting experience, most restaurants and bars close down during this period.
Price: Double rooms start at AED 1457 (£270) per night inclusive of tax.