Review: Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm the height of sophistication

Dubai version of favourite New York hotel brings hospitality for business and pleasure to the fore

The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm. Courtesy: Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm
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The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm was never intended to be just a luxury beach resort  - it was always designed with events like business conferences and society weddings in mind as well as company presentations and product launches.

As I checked in last weekend the last Lambourghini was pulling out of the hotel, part of a joint event inviting possible buyers to drive one of the Italian supercars.

The event featured a press breakfast in the palatial 1,000 square-metre Royal Suite on the top floor. It has its own private elevator and the main bathroom has a private terrace and tub enjoying an uninterrupted Burj Al Arab view.

This monster suite has a cavernous majilis, staff accommodation and two huge bedrooms. Yours for Dh40,000-a-night. It is not often available. One recent guest stayed for two months. But the hotel is so discrete even the staff did not know his or her identity.

The more down-to-earth rooms in this hotel are also generously sized at 52 square metres. They have the same lavish white marble bathrooms, cool white interiors and dark parquet floors. However, prices start from a more modest Dh1,500.

They are practical as well as luxurious. I liked the large oval desk. It has a MediaHub plugset with two multi-plugs for any nationality of plug. If you want a printer go to the business centre downstairs and use one of its two big-screen Macs.

Room service has a club sandwich for Dh70 or a margherita pizza for Dh50 if you want dinner solo. Coke is Dh22 or Dh24 from the minibar.

Sipping Nespresso on the balcony with a view over the fronds of the Jumeirah Palm Island is a nice way to wake-up. You also have a choice of two swimming pools, one for adults only, and a 300-metre beachfront as well as a tennis court that is floodlit in the evening.


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The Grand Ballroom can seat 600 for a conference, or 380 for a banquet. Eight other meeting rooms allow configurations from a boardroom for 20 to events for up to 95 guests.

I’ve been to a wedding, a large conference and a press event at this hotel. They were all extremely professionally managed. And the scale and opulence of the hotel really does add something extra.

For casual-fine dining Italian style try Social by the Michelin-starred Heinz Beck for an innovative tasting menu over several hours, or the classic Waldorf Astoria afternoon tea at the Dubai-version of its iconic Peacock Alley lounge.

Asian food lovers will find the Vietnamese restaurant Lao a special treat, or you can go al fresco with Mediterranean dining by the main swimming pool.

Every guest is assigned a personal concierge to assist them with organising their programme. Like the Peacock Alley this harks back to the service principles of the original Waldorf Astoria which opened in New York in 1930.

Other facilities in this hotel are similarly over-the-top. The spa has private suites for two that include both a sauna and steam room and a hot marble top.

The gym has a Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa view, five running machines, five bicycles, three skiiing machines and the most extensive range of exercise machines I’ve ever seen in a Dubai hotel.

Perhaps this reflects the commitment of its owner, the Dubai billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor, to physical fitness as well as the local hospitality sector. He made his first fortune from the Metropolitan Hotel on the Sheikh Zayed Road, now replaced by the hotels of the high-rise Al Habtoor City.

Usually in hotel reviews there is some niggle or other to report. But I really struggled on this occasion. Maybe the sand on the beachfront could be better graded so that you don’t have so many stones under your feet when you go in the water.

Then again, just tread carefully. Look around you at the views across the lagoon inside the Palm island towards the fronds and villas, and back to the towers of the Dubai Marina and the Atlantis Hotel in the other direction.

With 319 rooms and 68 suites, hospitality just does not get much better than this.