Raffles The Palm Dubai Near+Far rating: 9/10
Why stay at Raffles The Palm Dubai
Every guest of Raffles The Palm Dubai remembers the first time they saw the property. In person, it’s spectacular: a ginormous pastel pink, 18th-century-style palace on the shores of Palm Jumeirah. This is as opulent and OTT as it gets, even in Dubai: chandeliers weighed down with thousands of crystals, antique-style furniture, grand pianos and gold everywhere. The hotel is reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, that is, until you step outside, where it’s pure Palm Jumeirah with manicured grounds, beautiful sea, a private beach, one of the biggest swimming pools in the country and views back over almost the entire skyline, including the Burj Khalifa on a clear day. This is not the hotel for minimalists, so lie back, on your chaise lounge, and enjoy the unashamed maximalism.
Raffles The Palm Dubai is one of the many luxury resorts to line the outer crescent of the Palm Jumeirah – a scenic and peaceful stretch surrounded by the Arabian Gulf. This striking location means that, though the views and vibes are great, it’s a good 15-minute drive to the Palm Gateway, and a 15-20 minute drive to Downtown Dubai (though retail and dining destinations The Pointe, Nakheel Mall and the Palm West Beach development are nearby). This isn’t the hotel for those who want to spend their days out and about exploring, but for those wanting to relax, unwind and enjoy the sunshine, beach, spa and sumptuous surroundings.
Rooms and suites: 9/10
A real treat with Raffles The Palm Dubai is that the theme carries through to the bedrooms. They’re extremely spacious (the biggest on Palm Jumeirah) and decked out like mini baroque palaces – regardless of room category – plus all come with sea-view balconies or terraces. Designer Francesco Molon used plenty of gold, antique-inspired furniture, patterned wallpaper, heavy drapes and fittings hand-brushed with real gold and silver leaf to create the 18th-century feeling. Bathrooms, however, are brilliantly modern, decked out in Portuguese marble with rainfall showers and tubs. Larger suites could easily pass for palace state rooms – and come with their own terraces with sunbeds. A handful of stand-alone villas pepper the garden with multiple floors, up to four bedrooms and private rooftop pools.
Restaurants and bars: 7/10
Raffles The Palm Dubai’s dining offering is diverse, eclectic and full of surprises. True to the opulent theme is Blüthner Hall, the magnificent lobby lounge with a crystal chandelier and Blüthner Louis XIV Grand Piano, and the setting for afternoon tea. Down the spiral staircase is Le Jardin, the hotel’s grand, collonaded dining room serving breakfast (a lavish buffet spread with fantastic vegan and free-from options) and lunch – both inside and on its sun-soaked garden terrace. Another option for al fresco dining is Piatti – a Mediterranean-inspired beach restaurant serving fresh seafood and magnums of Minuty. Raffles’ nighttime options are decidedly off-theme, however. There’s sultry Matagi, a Japanese fine-dining restaurant, and cavernous jazz bar Sola – with killer live music and comedy nights.
Spa and facilities: 10/10
The hotel’s 3,000-square metre Cinq Mondes spa is a palace in itself – stripped back, ultra-modern and occupying the lower floors of the hotel. Guests can enjoy a sauna, steam, wellness areas, salt room, hammam, treatment rooms and the largest indoor swimming pool in the Middle East. Cinq Mondes products are inspired by the owners’ travels around the world and treatments are internationally inspired. A 24-hour modern fitness centre and kids’ club complete the offering – making this one of the best spa offerings in the region.
Guests are greeted by gracious lobby hosts in attractive white suits and gowns, before being whisked up to their room or suite (suite check In happens with a glass of something cold in the Raffles Club Lounge). Everyone is pleasant, smiley and attentive – but the Raffles signature butler service hasn’t really cut through yet – so expect general concierge service rather than a dedicated attendant.
This is a hotel that’s unashamedly ostentatious but equally modern, homely, friendly and inviting. Its grandiose exterior is guaranteed to impress everyone, while its 500-metre private beach and facilities make it one of the most well-equipped hotels in Dubai. For something special, there are few hotels like it.
Doubles from AED2,000; raffles.com