While Dubai is spoilt for choice in terms of sprawling beachfront resorts, there is always room for more boutique properties that offer personalised attention to guests.
Enter the new kid on the block, voco Dubai The Palm, which opened its doors on Palm Jumeirah’s shoreline promenade West Beach in January as a boutique sea-facing hotel with 138 rooms.
It’s the third voco hotel in Dubai, joining voco Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road and voco Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers Dubai.
The National checks in for two nights to experience the InterContinental Hotels Group's first beach property on Palm Jumeirah.
The hotel is easy to get to. You drive past Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile buildings on your right and take the exit towards Palm West Beach, a 1.5km waterfront culinary hub, and voco Dubai The Palm is one of the first hotels you come across.
The valet personnel are very efficient and whisk away our luggage, which is promptly delivered to our room upon check-in. The valet service is operated using a QR code, a departure from the usual stamped cards.
The receptionist, Ever, is welcoming and briefs us well on the hotel’s facilities and restaurant timings, and the paperwork for check-in is completed relatively quickly.
The compact lobby exudes casual, relaxed vibes, and is decorated in pastel colours to match the oceanfront setting. There are comfortable couches in quiet nooks for guests to relax in until their check-in is complete or while they wait for their cars to be delivered by the valet.
The hotel is located on the beachfront promenade of Palm West Beach. It’s within a stone’s throw of the popular beachfront restaurants Koko Bay and February 30, a restaurant import from Beirut, and adjacent to the Radisson Beach Resort Palm Jumeirah and the sprawling Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah.
It is in an enviable location, with the hotel’s beach stretch offering great views of Ain Dubai, the Dubai Marina skyline, Dubai Harbour and Palm Jumeirah. The hotel also offers its guests a free shuttle bus ride to Nakheel Mall in the neighbourhood and Dubai Hills Mall.
As we visit in autumn, the weather is sultry, and the promenade and beach are quiet for most of the day. It looks more vibrant on weekend evenings, with joggers and beachgoers heading outdoors.
Noisy pool parties from the neighbouring Radisson hotel can be a dampener if you are craving some peace and quiet.
We stay in a King Palm beachfront room on the eighth floor, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer incredible views of the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf.
The highlights of our staycation include lying in bed staring at the endless horizons of the sea, watching yachts bobbing up and down in the waters, and admiring daredevils indulging in different water sports.
With the room also offering panoramic views of Ain Dubai and Dubai Marina, guests who check in on New Year’s Eve would be treated to a spectacular view of fireworks.
The room, which is decorated in hues of green and blue to give off coastal vibes, is spacious (30 square metres, to be specific) for a couple and includes a work desk, a comfortable, well-sized bed and a sofa chair to take in those views.
It's refreshing to see refillable water bottles and toiletries in the room, as well as easy-to-work light switches.
The room includes a safe to keep your valuables, a hair dryer, coffee machine, ironing board and necessary storage space. A minor niggle: The wardrobe’s sliding doors are slightly hard to use.
What sets this hotel apart is the service, with staff readily available to make you comfortable.
Gaurav, a staff member in the hotel’s concierge department, stands out for his willingness to help and recommendations for things to do in the neighbourhood. He also relieves us of our luggage when checking out and helps reclaim our car quickly from the valet.
The team at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, Maison Mathis, are also helpful, polite and make good recommendations, keeping in mind any dietary requirements. They are flexible and willing to tweak your half-board meal reservations, if necessary.
Of particular note there are Eric and Sam, two friendly restaurant staff, who make our dinners more entertaining.
However, staff at the private beach are slow to deliver our sundowner drinks, although we're assigned beach towels and sunbeds quickly.
The hotel features a rooftop infinity pool on the ninth floor with sweeping views of the Arabian Gulf. It is also a perfect spot to take a picture for Instagram against the Dubai Marina skyline. There are ample sun loungers scattered around the pool. By night, this space transforms into a rooftop lounge.
There is a gym that operates 24/7 and a meeting room that can accommodate 25 people, but no kids’ club, play area nor games room.
The hotel is pet-friendly, with four-legged friends allowed everywhere in the property, except the rooftop pool. Only one pet is allowed per room, its weight must not exceed 10kg and it must be vaccinated. Guests will be charged a fee of Dh200 in total per pet, per stay.
As for Maison Mathis, it offers an outdoor deck, which is likely to be a big draw for guests when the weather improves. A door to your left before the restaurant entrance takes you to the promenade and beach.
Maison Mathis serves up popular Belgian classics in a casual and laid-back atmosphere. We sample dinner and the breakfast buffet at this outlet.
For our first meal, we try calamari (Dh65) and barbecue chicken wings (Dh55) for starters, and they are top-notch.
My husband then orders a succulent Angus beef steak with pepper sauce (Dh110) for his main course, while I go for a decadent Rigatoni Bolognese (Dh70).
We end the meal on a high note, with a lip-smacking cheesecake and chocolate ice cream.
For our dinner on day two, we love the mini cheese croquettes starters (Dh50). I devour the crispy skin on the salmon, which is accompanied by aubergine and courgette in chermoula sauce (Dh120), while my partner chooses the Diavola pizza (Dh82). The panna cotta (Dh35) for dessert is delightful.
The breakfast buffet includes a range of international and continental options, including pastries, muffins, sausages, bacon, juices, meze, a variety of cheeses, smoothies, waffles and more.
It is also good to see gluten-free bread available and the banana bread counter is a nice touch (I visit several times).
The one let-down here is a custom-made Eggs Benedict that isn't very tasty, but service is quick and attentive.
Highs and lows
The hotel’s biggest draws are its friendly and helpful staff, pristine sea views from the room and comfortable beds.
Minor drawbacks are weak Wi-Fi, loud music from the neighbouring hotel in the evening and no access to water sport activities.
The insider tip
Make sure to book a beachfront room in a higher floor to enjoy uninterrupted sea views. And ask for a room with a balcony.
For Instagrammable pictures, go to the left corner of the rooftop pool to get the Dubai Marina skyline as your backdrop.
This place is definitely worth a weekend escape. There's nothing like ocean views to melt your worries away. What’s better, you can relax with your pet in tow.
The bottom line
Rates start at Dh900 per night for a deluxe room, Dh1,100 for a Palm side sea view room, Dh1,200 for a beachfront view room, Dh1,350 for a panoramic beachfront view room and Dh1,800 for a family suite. Rates exclude taxes and VAT. Check in is from 3pm and check out is at 12pm; www.ihg.com/voco/hotels
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects standards during this time. Services may change in the future.