As I make my way up to the hotel entrance, I begin to think I may have booked my stay too early, given that the upper floors of the property appear to still be under construction. After some confusion about which path to take, I eventually pull up at the valet parking area and am pleasantly surprised – the slick lobby allays my initial fears, and within a few moments, I am at a desk sipping a welcome drink while check-in is taken care of.
The 279-room Dukes is in good company on The Palm, Jumeirah. Situated on the trunk, the Dubai version of this sophisticated British brand is far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet close enough to key attractions. Dubai International Airport is a 40-minute drive away, while Dubai Marina and Mall of the Emirates are 10 minutes away by car.
While the exterior of the hotel is not nearly as attractive as the nearby Atlantis, the lobby is a refined, luxurious space. The furnishings, marble floors and Swarovski chandeliers convey luxury, and there is a level of intimacy that makes you want to stay awhile. When I visit, there is a combination of travellers and staycationers, but the property is far from full, which detracts from the overall vibe. Set between two residential complexes, the hotel’s best asset has to be its infinity pool, which provides Instagram-worthy views of JBR. Those with families will be pleased to know that the hotel is family-friendly – it has a winding lazy river ideal for children, plus the Dukesy Kids Club and babysitting services (Dh150 per hour for a minimum of three hours).
I am staying in a Dukes Room, which has a separate living room, and a dual-entry bathroom with a tub and high-tech Japanese toilet. The furnishings are elegant and quintessentially British with their upholstered headboards and artwork choices, while the bathroom is sleek thanks to its black tiling and mood lighting. There are two balconies – one off the lounge area and another off the bedroom – and rooms offer views of Dubai Marina and the Palm.
Of the hotel’s six F&B outlets, Dukes Bar is the best for a pre-dinner refreshment. Set atop a dual staircase from the lobby, the bar is beautifully designed, with an impressive mocktail menu. If you like Indian food, make a beeline for Khyber, which has quite the reputation and is the first of its kind outside Mumbai. Dishes range in price from Dh35 to Dh225, but if spicy food is a challenge for you, perhaps go for the Great British Restaurant or West 14th steakhouse instead. Although, if you are dining in GBR, be prepared to see swimwear-clad guests traipsing through the restaurant at all hours of the day and night. Breakfast is served here, too, and consists of a hearty spread of hot and cold options that include waffles and pancakes, cold meats and cheeses, eggs, sausages, Arabic and international options.
A little too attentive but the staff knew I was reviewing the property and the hotel wasn’t busy, so that may not be everyone’s experience. All encounters with staff were friendly, knowledge of the property and environs was good. Apart from being told cameras weren’t allowed by the pool even though there was no one else around – phones are no problem, though – the service was mostly good.
The hotel’s decor and the views from the infinity pool.
Being told I couldn’t use my SLR camera. While I understand that privacy is an issue, I find it hard to see how a smartphone camera is any more acceptable.
A destination in its own right that is sure to appeal to a diverse clientele.
The bottom line
Rooms at Dukes Dubai cost from Dh800 per night, including taxes and Wi-Fi. Breakfast is Dh135 if not included.