The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC.
PHOTO BY SUPPLIED
DUBAI – The last time I was at The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC was several years ago to receive my first journalism award from the Dubai government. I remember walking down the red carpet before a band of us Middle East journalists filed into their massive function halls, but not before being served delicious canapes and drinks by roving waiters.
This summer, I was back for a much needed 48-hour staycation with my travel buddy at this five-star hotel in the heart of Dubai International Financial Centre. It was as if the hotel has found the elixir of youth. It hasn’t aged a bit and was still as ritz as I remembered it—luxurious and glamorous.
The staff made our stay extra special by noting that it was also my big day; leaving a beautiful surprise in my room: a delicious birthday cake, a tray of fruits and a birthday card signed by everyone on duty! Clearly, this is a hotel where precious memories are made.
We checked into a Premier Room with twin beds—the perfect staycation den with 452 metres of space, beautiful beds, spacious walk-in bathroom with separate shower and tub and Asprey bath products, plus a stunning view of Sheikh Zayed Road’s iconic buildings: DIFC, the Museum of the Future and more that was available at a touch of a button that automatically drew back the sheer curtains. As I plopped onto the bed with its wonderful 400 thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, I was already planning my next visit; making a mental note to request for the same room the next time I check in here.
The beauty of The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC is its myriad of activity areas to suit your mood. Need a quiet conversation? You can take a seat at the lounge area. In the mood to party? It’s got a great outdoor hangout. Looking for a delicious cake and coffee? How about after-work drinks with your colleagues? There are two more restaurants that fit the bill.
In-house guests can exercise in the spacious and fully-equipped gym or enjoy a refreshing swim in the indoor pool.
I, on, the other hand, went for some much-needed facial TLC at the spa. I thoroughly enjoyed the 60-minute facial that pampered every inch of my face using the luxury skin brand ESPA. I was treated to a gentle scrub under a LED face mask, followed by a good number of extractions, ending with a soothing facial and head massage.
When they say they offer a feast for the senses, they’re not kiddng. There’s literally an F&B outlet to match your every mood.
This all-day dining restaurant has an easy-going vibe with a moderately-sized breakfast spread. We enjoyed the mix of European, Asian, Middle East and Indian dishes on offer. There’s a generous section for meats, breads and cakes, a salad bar, open kitchens and a counter for steamed dimsum in cute bamboo baskets. Dining outdoors would be perfect in the winter, but having your power meal of the day in the cozy indoor space is just as great.
A huge crowd had gathered at the France-meets-Italy restaurant and bar Le Cirque when we strolled inside at around 7pm on Wednesday. They’d come for the special Dh30 drinks that came with a snack buffet. Definitely a steal for a place as posh as this one. Apparently, it’s a not-so-secret secret for DIFC’s after-work party crowd. Past the crowded entrance, we were led to a much quieter part of the restaurant where we had a lovely five-star dinner of fresh Gillardeau oysters followed by perfectly medium rare Onyx beef ribeye with trimmings. Dishes were prepared to perfection, as expected. No snotty waiters here, just spot-on friendly, fine-dining service.
If you haven’t visited the Sunken Garden, then you’re missing out on the fun from one of Dubai’s best hangouts. We were expecting a hot and humid night out in the open air but was wonderfully surprised that it was actually pretty comfortable there. A staff member told us that it never gets hot there at any time of the year. Magic? Probably. Perhaps it’s the water feature, the green landscaping or the overall relaxing vibe. Whatever it is, it certainly helped us love every minute of our stay, which was amplified by the cool music, delicious light bites, great shisha and creative drinks. We recommend the Kriek brew served in giant glasses.
This restaurant certainly lives up to its name when it comes to cakes. With so many to choose from, we just couldn’t decide what to get. So the friendly staff brought us a surprise which turned out to be a decadent delight: salty caramel cake layered with Snickers. It was the perfect slice to be enjoyed at our table by the window (which had a nice view of the waterfall out in the promenade). Not that the view inside Cake isn’t great. In fact, the interiors excited the dormant artist in me as much as their food and drinks. I absolutely loved the multicolored cakes, cookies and pastries on display, but was also floored by the ingenious design quirks: dozens of small Arabic teapots hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier wave, and battoulahs or Arabic metal masks adorning a statement wall. The friendly staff are also very helpful and can confidently whip up a special request for that “surprise me” moment.
We just loved everything in this hotel. Whatever hat you wear, it’s a mini oasis with options for every mood. We’re so glad to have rediscovered it.
Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC
Stars: 5 stars
Location: Downtown Dubai, Dubai
Phone: 8004789/04 3994000
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