Ambiance & Vibe:
The eye-catching pyramid structure of the facade captures your attention as you drive up to the Raffles complex, which is attached to the Wafi luxury shopping mall. As we arrived, we were immediately greeted by the friendly bell staff, who took our bags and escorted us to the reception. Walking into the huge and spacious marble clad lobby, we were struck by the beauty of the architecture with its multi levels, waterfall and sloping walls built to resemble an Egyptian king’s tomb. A distinct homely but luxe Middle Eastern vibe permeates the lobby with sumptuous Egyptian inspired interiors featuring majestic brass chandeliers, massive urns, imposing round columns embellished with intricate and ornate hand-carved hieroglyphs, enormous vases of fresh orchids and plenty of ottoman-style sofa seating areas surrounded by red carpets.
At the pyramid’s pinnacle, sits the hip, Japanese izakaya inspired restaurant Tomo, which is popular with Dubai’s Japanese expats and the jet set. The outdoor Tatami terrace offers spectacular unobstructed views of the lengthy Dubai skyline and sunset is the best time to grab a seat on the terrace and watch the sun setting beyond the Burj Khalifa.
The 3rd floor rooftop garden and cabanas are also a wonderful place to chill out and relax during the day or the evening surrounded by the lush botanical gardens.
Design & Style:
Inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt, the Raffles Dubai is an architectural landmark in the city’s skyline. The exotic design reflects an Egyptian pyramid both inside and out, with the enormous lobby covered with marble and dominated by huge pillars engraved with hieroglyphs of the kind found at ancient Egyptian archaeological sites. While more contemporary in style, all rooms have a strong Middle Eastern influence in the design featuring handcrafted decorative elements, such as the traditional Mashrabiya Arabic technique used on the bathroom doors and shutters, and traditional motifs on the carpets.
Raffles Dubai’s plush 252 rooms and suites all come with butler service and are some of the most spacious rooms in the city – the smallest ‘Signature Rooms’ start at 70sqm – which is the size of most hotel suites. All the rooms boast balconies or terraces with patio seating, some with awesome Dubai city skyline views. The gargantuan suites are some of the most indulgent in Dubai. The Diplomatic Suites come in at a whopping 160 sqm with oversized balcony, the Landmark Suite comes in at 204 sqm, the Presidential suite at over 300 sqm, the Penthouse at 441 sqm and the Royal Suite at a mind-boggling 650 sqm. Room size definitely matters at Raffles Dubai!
The rooms are more contemporary in style, sumptuously appointed with marble and pale gold accents, patterned rugs, and pops of burgundy. The Egyptian and Asian theme is still evident with handcrafted decorative elements, such as the Mashrabiya technique used on the bathroom doors and shutters, traditional motifs on the carpets, heavy velvets sewn with sequins, and silk cushions. The natural stone bathrooms all have separate bathtub and walk in shower and are stocked with toiletries from the hotel’s Amrita spa range.
We loved our 70sqm Raffles Club Room, boasting of spectacular sunset views over the Dubai city skyline from a private terrace, and having 24-hour access to the club lounge as well as butler service. The room features a work station, large flat screen tv, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, espresso machine, iPod docking station, free wireless internet connection, and a high-tech, interactive digital console which allows you to manage all elements of your stay via the television or iPad.
An impressive array of 7 onsite restaurants and bars, several with alfresco seating, offer an extensive array of award winning dining and entertainment options. Guests are also spoilt for choice with the myriad restaurants in next door Wafi Mall.
Tomo: At the pyramid’s pinnacle, sits the hip, Japanese izakaya inspired restaurant Tomo, which is popular with Dubai’s Japanese expats and the jet set. The outdoor Tatami terrace offers spectacular unobstructed views of the lengthy Dubai skyline and sunset is the best time to grab a seat on the terrace and watch the sun setting beyond the Burj Khalifa. In Japanese, “tomo” means long-time friend, which is exactly how the silk kimono-clad staff will make you feel. The food is served bento-style and the menu is expertly curated, including a wide variety of rice and noodles, Wagyu grilled meats as well as sushi and sashimi. Interiors are done in dark wood accents with minimalist Japanese aesthetics and elegance and feature traditional Japanese floor seats and low tables.
Azur: Overlooking the lush Raffles Garden on the third floor, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant Azur features an international breakfast buffet followed by a lunch buffet with a wide range of Pan-Arabic and Asian dishes. Guest can choose from the live cooking stations and the great selection of starters, main courses and desserts, including Arabic sweets. The adjoining outside terrace allows for alfresco seating to enjoy your meals while soaking up the ambiance of the warm weather and the botanical gardens.
Raffles Salon: The elegant and cozy Raffles Salon is located in the luxurious lobby lounge and offers traditional English afternoon Tea, including an array of decadent finger sandwiches, light bites and small deserts at a great value.
Crossroads Cocktail Bar & Garden Cabana: An Asian inspired bar, serving exotic cocktails including the renowned Raffles Singapore Sling as well as the in-house signature drink, the Dubai Sling. You can chill out with a Shisha on one of the cozy armchairs or in your own private cabana in the outdoor patio which overlooks the lush Raffles Garden and offers a great view of the hotel at night, when the lights illuminate the pyramid-like structure of the hotel.
Solo Italian Restaurant & Bar: Solo serves traditional authentic Italian cuisine with a modern twist in generous portions, including an extensive range of soups, salads, appetizers, mains, pizzas, pastas and desserts. The signature dishes of meat, seafood and pizza are baked in the Italian wood-fired oven, the centerpiece of the stylish dining area. Solo has a very friendly and relaxed ambiance with a blend of rustic and chic décor, with terra-cotta red brick walls, double height ceilings, open kitchen and outdoor al fresco dining space – the Terrazza.
The fantastic array of gastronomic dining options at the Raffles Dubai:
The Raffles friendly and efficient hotel staff are some of Dubai’s finest, offering the sort of gracious and attentive yet discreet service the brand is synonymous with. Everyone from the bellhops and doormen to the concierge, front desk and Club Lounge staff know your name and greet you with a warm smile. The hotel is also known for its excellent butler service, and we made full use of this value added service – with a rose petal bath being drawn for our kids to our clothes being picked up for laundry. This explains why, despite Dubai being one of the most intensely competitive luxury hotel markets in the world, Raffles Dubai continues to remain one of the city’s most successful and highest ranked properties. The General Manager, Ayman Gharib and his team have mastered the art of customer service! A prime example was the welcome amenity platters waiting for us in our room after we checked in: cupcakes, chocolates and candies for the kids and a bottle of wine and cake for our 20th wedding anniversary!
During our stay, we ate breakfast at Azur, drinks at the pool bar, evening cocktails at the Executive Club lounge, and dinner at Tomo and found the food and service at all locations to be exceptional. The service is perfectly timed and courteous, but the staff are warm and genuine too, delivering classic Middle Eastern hospitality. Our experience while checking in and out was also very efficient and so was the interaction with the knowledgeable and helpful concierge team, which are no doubt are among the best in Dubai. We used the concierge service extensively, from recommendations for the best souks, cultural attractions, sporting activities such as dune bashing as well as reservations at some of the top golf courses and trendy new restaurants in town.
Facilities & Activities:
Facilities: Raffles Dubai is a perfect city center urban resort from which to explore Dubai’s many attractions. An outdoor pool (with swim up bar and great view of the Dubai skyline) and jacuzzi, a state-of-the-art gym, the exceptional Raffles Spa – with 6 treatment rooms including a couple’s suite, private garden retreat for two, saunas, steam rooms, indoor jacuzzi, experience showers and hair salons as well as the tropical Raffles Garden complete the picture. The hotel is a premier venue for high society events and themed gala dinners in Dubai and boasts 9 meeting spaces as well as an impressive Raffles Ballroom.
Activities: Dubai has witnessed breathtaking development in the leisure sector over the past decade, and has today become the world’s leisure playground, with innumerable luxury malls, amusement parks, and sporting and outdoor attractions. Dubai is a hedonistic mix of the ultramodern and the traditional, from a futuristic ever growing skyline to traditional souks, and offers an amazing variety of activities and sightseeing for families, couples and singles. Based on your interests and time, the hotel’s ace concierge team will help you plan your daily itinerary and transportation to visit the city’s many cultural attractions, luxe shopping malls, as well as organize golfing, sporting and desert excursions such as the popular dune bashing, and reservations at fine dining restaurants, nightclubs as well as trendy beach clubs.
If you are visiting Dubai for a beach holiday and want to stay in Jumeirah beach or in The Palm, Raffles Dubai should probably not be your first choice. This is a city center urban resort located on Sheikh Rashid Road, close to the Old Dubai areas of Deira, Bur Dubai and the Souks. Adjacent to the hotel is the upscale Egyptian-themed Wafi Mall, one of the oldest malls in Dubai. The hotel is only 3 km from Dubai International Airport and 10 minutes drive to Dubai’s business districts including International Financial Center, World Trade Center and Burj Khalifa, and to major shopping malls including the Dubai Mall. The hotel has easy access to the Dubai metro. The lush palm-shaded Creekside Park is also a short stroll away.
What We Love:
- The staff is among the best trained in Dubai, and service is friendly, attentive and flawless.
- The standard rooms are among the largest in Dubai at 70 sqm and have private terraces with great views of downtown Dubai, including the spectacular sunsets.
- The rooftop Japanese restaurant Tomo, with its jaw dropping panoramic views, is a must visit.
- Location – The hotel is a quick 10 minute ride from the Dubai International Airport and close to some of Dubai’s main business, shopping and cultural districts. Also the upscale Wafi shopping mall is next door.
Best Time to Visit:
Although Dubai has become a year round global playground and leisure destination, the best time to visit is during the cooler autumn, winter and spring seasons of October thru March. Summers can get really hot, although if you remain indoors or in the myriad malls during the day, it is relatively pleasant in the evenings.