After the customary detour around the perma-roadworks-blighted JLT that’s necessary to reach almost all of its clusters through an infuriating circular one-way system, we find the Pullman’s small but functional valet entrance. After a short queue at the front desk, a very pleasant receptionist takes us up to the 16th floor for check-in at the executive lounge, and escorts us to our room on the same level.
Situated in Cluster T of JLT, the Pullman couldn’t have much better transport links, overlooking Sheikh Zayed Road and the nearby Damac Properties Metro station. It’s a short drive from Dubai Marina and Dubai Media City – although if you’re unfamiliar with the constantly evolving roads in this area, it’s worth taking a taxi rather than risk taking an erroneous slip road and ending up several kilometres in the wrong direction.
Our executive room is well-equipped, with a pleasingly wide king bed (with memory-foam pillows), a widescreen TV on a central island at the end of the bed, a Bose bluetooth dock, Nespresso machine, a dresser near the room door and a mini-sofa. The bathroom is spacious enough, with a deep bath and separate rain shower. The hotel’s position at one end of JLT lends our corner room wide, claustrophobia-free views across Sheikh Zayed Road towards the Marina, and in the distance, the Burj Al Arab.
The clientele is varied from European and Asian tourists to Gulf families and Levant expats, plus a good influx of British revellers circa brunch o’clock on Fridays. The hotel’s modest, but well-formed range of bars and restaurants gives a welcome choice of atmospheres, from the demure Italian restaurant Manzoni to the tapas bar Amarillo’s funky party chic. We’d love to report back on the Pullman’s spa, but our reservation turns into a shambles. When we arrive, the receptionist has no record of us, and with the spa fully booked, we ignominiously wait around for about 45 minutes to resolve the problem – but to no avail.
Variable. The reception staff and waiters at Manzoni couldn’t be more agreeable; the spa staff are less impressive, while at breakfast in the all-day-dining restaurant Seasons, one or two of the servers regard requests with all the surly cheer of somebody complying at gunpoint.
Manzoni, on the ground floor, and Amarillo, in the basement, are the undeniable picks. The former specialises in Italian fine dining, but prizes friendliness over pretension, serving up reasonably priced dishes such as trotie pasta with an array of seafood (Dh85). Amarillo, by comparison, is much less of a sit-up-straight establishment, with kooky, geographically themed tapas-sized dishes, including the “Chinese” deep-fried vanilla ice cream with tart Szechuan peppercorn-and-redcurrant sauce (Dh40). The breakfast buffet at Seasons is less remarkable, but ticks all the basic boxes.
The views, the balcony and the location (one-way system aside), as well as Manzoni and Amarillo.
The spa mix-up. And we spend half a day unable to connect to the Wi-Fi, which is logged into with your room number and surname. It’s not until we switch on the TV and see my name spelled incorrectly on the welcome screen that we realise what’s afoot.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better value at this end of town, with a clutch of above-average dining options for good measure.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Pullman Dubai Jumeirah Lakes Towers (www.pullmanhotels.com; 04 567 1100) cost from Dh560 per night, including breakfast, Wi-Fi and taxes.