Hotel insider: Taj Dubai

Checking in to the new Taj Dubai in Downtown Dubai/Business Bay.

The lobby at the Taj Dubai hotel. Courtesy Taj Dubai
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The welcome

You’ll want to turn your satnav on to find the Taj Dubai, squirrelled away on a side street within sight of the Burj Khalifa. The entrance itself isn’t particularly grand, but once inside, a cascading chandelier, an open-plan atrium and pristine white decor aplenty remind you this is a five-star hotel. The novelty of being bestowed with floral garlands on arrival is dampened by a slightly frustrating 15-minute delay for our room to be readied. Eventually, we’re accompanied to our luxury Burj-view room on the 32nd floor by not one but two helpful employees.

The neighbourhood

Slap-bang between Business Bay and the Burj Khalifa, the Taj is a perfect base for Downtown Dubai exploits. It’s two minutes’ drive from Sheikh Zayed Road and about the same distance to Business Bay Metro station.

The room

Our room is spacious, with its lounge and bedroom nicely separated and allowing in plenty of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows that afford expansive views of Business Bay – and, if you really press your nose to the glass, the Burj Khalifa. The lounge has a couch, a small dining table and, in an alcove, a functional work desk. Some lights are motion-triggered – such as in the long, narrow wardrobe/dressing area – while the bathroom has his-and-hers washbasins, a deep bath, plus cubicles for a rain shower and toilet. There’s art all over the place, including three large urns above the bedroom television and a range of framed pictures and artefacts. Despite having two TVs, however, connectivity is poor – there are multiple USB slots, but no way to access your content through the overly idiot-proof on-screen interface.

The service

Courteous and cheerful, but lacking punctuality at points.

The scene

The entire hotel has an artsy bent, with statuettes, wall embellishments and portraits of maharajas throughout. Guests are a mix of Emiratis, Indians and westerners.

The food

Bombay Brasserie is the signature restaurant, specialising in upmarket, modern Indian cuisine. The interior is splendid, from grand bar areas to glittering table settings. The food, however, falls a mite short. Highlights are the Malabar crab (Dh90) and Cochin lobster curry (Dh230). Tesoro is a Peruvian restaurant by night and a lively brunch venue on a Friday afternoon, but for breakfast, it’s more run-of-the-mill – the buffet is solid, yet with nothing to truly elevate it above Dubai’s myriad options. We have to wait for a table at both Bombay Brasserie and Tesoro. The Taj’s real USP, however, is the speakeasy-esque bar The Eloquent Elephant. It’s an excellent spot on the ground floor, hidden behind an unassuming entrance that amounts to a cupboard door with a sign on it. The decor is quirky and fun, while the menu of gastropub favourites features posh takes on fish and chips (Dh100), Scotch eggs (Dh60) and, our pick, seared Dublin Bay scallops (Dh70). It’s worth a stand-alone visit.

Loved

The Eloquent Elephant, Bombay Brasserie’s design and the Jiva Spa, where we enjoy an ache-easing vishram massage (60 minutes; Dh480).

Hated

The delays and connectivity problems.

The verdict

A five-star option with a dash of soul in the heart of Dubai, which is rarer than you might think.

The bottom line

Doubles rooms at the Taj Dubai (www.tajhotels.com; 04 438 3100) cost from Dh1,080 per night, including breakfast, Wi-Fi and taxes.

aworkman@thenational.ae

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