Hotel Insider: Summerhouse at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf is a quintessential Dubai experience

Part of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort, boutique-style hotel elevates luxury to a new level

Powered by automated translation

Dubai is known for many things – modern architecture, beautiful beaches and a level of luxury rarely seen elsewhere.

But it is also known for its Arabian heritage, hospitable culture and a culinary landscape that is as diverse as it is delicious.

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, part of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah resort, encompasses all of these elements – and then some.

The National checks in to one of its Arabian-inspired summerhouses to experience what Dubai is all about.

The welcome

To check in to Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, you have to roll up the grand driveway of Jumeirah Al Qasr, which features large gold statues of horses and a marble-clad valet area. It is a reminder, if one is needed, that you are definitely in Dubai.

We are relieved of our luggage and taken to a private area, where, while we are checked in, someone else entertains our three-year-old with her own Madinat Jumeirah passport, which she needs to collect stamps for throughout our stay.

Once all the formalities are finished, we are taken to a buggy and whisked through the resort to one of Dar Al Masyaf's Arabian-style summerhouses.

The neighbourhood

The Madinat Jumeirah resort consists of four hotels that share a sprawling facility. It is more like a village than a resort.

Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A'Salam and Jumeirah Al Naseem are all large and well-known hotels, but Dar Al Masyaf is a boutique collection of summerhouses, villas, suites and rooms that offer a truly private escape. Particularly perfect for families.

They are near to a two-kilometre stretch of beach, amid extensive landscaped grounds with canal-style waterways. Our summerhouse is right next to a colourful kids club, which features an outdoor splash pad and beautiful interiors full of activities and toys to keep children entertained.

The scene

There are a few ways to get around the resort: by buggy, gondola or walking. You cannot underestimate its size – some areas of the resort would just take too long to walk to and it is a bit of a maze, so it can be easy to get lost. But that is all part of the charm.

At any point, you are surrounded by greenery or the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf or you are facing the man-made lagoon, where gondolas are floating up and down taking guests from one end of the resort to the other.

Peacocks roam freely around the grounds and brightly-painted camel statues are dotted about (my daughter has fun pointing them all out every single time we pass on a buggy).

Stays also come with free entry to Wild Wadi Water Park, which my husband and daughter enjoy one morning. Talise Spa is another highlight. I take up the chance to try a new detox treatment launched by Irish company Voya on a menu that includes seaweed wraps, massages, facials and more.

Large, fresh seaweed leaves plucked from the Irish Sea are wrapped around my body, oozing all that nourishing, detoxifying goodness into my skin. I'm also scrubbed with a seaweed-infused exfoliant and massaged with a wonderful seaweed-enhanced moisturiser that leaves me feeling like a new woman for days.

The room

The summerhouses are inspired by traditional Emirati homes complete with wind towers. Ours has a reception area with majlis-style seating and an inner courtyard where guests can relax in the open air. This is surrounded by rooms. It is private and communal at the same time.

Our ground-floor room, the Gulf Summerhouse Arabian Deluxe, has a king-size bed that is firm and comfortable, as well as a sofa-come-double-bed for our three-year-old and a generously sized, sturdy wooden crib for our baby.

The bedroom, predominantly decorated in neutral hues with touches of light green and sky blues, opens up on to a private lawn with outdoor seating.

The vast bathroom has warm marble accents, with his-and-hers sinks, dressing area and a stand-alone bathtub. The walk-in rain shower has a seat and tiles reminiscent of a steam room or traditional hammam. The luxurious, refillable toiletries come courtesy of Oman-founded Amouage.

The food

We have access to about 50 restaurants spread over the four hotels and Souk Madinat Jumeirah, so we are absolutely spoilt for choice.

The spacious all-day dining restaurant Arboretum, in Jumeirah Al Qasr, is where we have breakfast each morning. It is a buffet-style offering with live cooking stations and a delicious selection of freshly-baked goods. There are plenty of options for all tastes, from Middle Eastern classics, including shakshouka and mezze, as well as healthy items such as home-made granola, chia puddings and fresh smoothies. Hot items include everything from baked beans and sausages to Indian options and made-to-order eggs.

One lunchtime, we try the beachside French Riviera, which has a beautiful menu of French-Mediterranean dishes and several seating areas both indoors and outdoors that afford diners plenty of stunning views and privacy. We sit on the terrace, overlooking the gardens and ocean.

The standout dishes here are the octopus with tapenade, mashed potato and hazelnut (Dh145), which is at once light and hearty, fresh-tasting and complex. Also the perfectly-cooked sea bass with barigoule artichokes, mussels and white wine emulsion (Dh215).

I'm vegan and, while the menu has a couple of options for me, staff are more than happy to make a plant-based version of their truffle rigatoni (Dh190) on request, which is wonderfully creamy, sweet, salty and earthy thanks to the copious shavings of black truffle.

Another lunch is spent at beautiful Rockfish at Jumeirah Al Naseem, where the terrace offers fantastic views of the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and the Arabian Gulf. For a seafood restaurant, there are plenty of vegan options and I thoroughly enjoy my refreshing beetroot carpaccio (Dh75) with hints of lemon and a crunch from hazelnut, as well as the moreish truffle risotto with wild mushrooms (Dh185).

My husband raves about the freshness of his Dibba Bay oysters (Dh90 for three pieces), and the Angus beef fillet (Dh295), a 250-day dry-aged tenderloin that comes with a springy potato millefeuille.

My favourite restaurant is Al Nafoorah, which serves up an elevated Lebanese dining experience with excellent hot and cold mezze options and meaty or vegetarian mains. Chef Ali's Tata's Salad (Dh50) – a sweet and tart concoction of rocket, dried figs, dates, beetroot, tomato, walnuts, olive oil and pomegranate molasses – is a highlight, as are the wonderfully balanced warak enab ( Dh45) and signature Al Nafoorah hummus (Dh45). The shish tawook plate (Dh85) is also perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

The service

You cannot fault the service at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf. Everyone is clearly very well trained. They know the resort inside out and many have been there, or at least with Jumeirah Group, for years. You get the impression this is a great place to work.

Everyone, from the gardeners to the cleaners and personal butler at the villa, is smiley and friendly.

Our only gripe would be the service at French Riviera. It was a little slow, not ideal when you have a grumpy three-year-old who wants to hit the splash pad and a crying eight-month-old who needs a nap.

Highs and lows

The setting is unbeatable. There is so much going on there would be no need to step foot outside this resort while on holiday. It is perfect for a staycation when Dubai residents want to feel like they are a world away from real life.

As for the lows, for families with young children and prams it can be difficult navigating the resort with all the stairs and labyrinthine walkways, but friendly staff are always on hand to help.

The insider tip

Check out what activities are going on around the resort as there is plenty to do while you are there, including outdoor movie nights, yoga sessions, turtle release events and more.

The verdict

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf truly offers a quintessential Dubai experience, complete with Arabian-style architecture and decor, excellent service, wonderful food and the elevated level of luxury we have come to expect from this cosmopolitan city.

The bottom line

Rates start from Dh4,500 for a Gulf Summerhouse Arabian Deluxe based on two adults staying on March 5, excluding taxes and fees; check in at 3pm and check out at noon;

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future.

Updated: March 03, 2024, 4:02 AM