Discovering (And Binging On) The Palace Downtown, Dubai

August 27, 2016 , Haiya

Some of you may already know how much I love the Palace Downtown, so much so -in fact- that I recently had to ask myself if all the memorable experiences I’ve had there have resulted in a positive bias. I decided to retrace my steps and identify the variables that have made my various experiences at the aptly named, palatial property so memorable and pleasant. Was it the company I had? Nah. I have that company even in places I end up hating. Was it a special occasion like an anniversary, a birthday, or a proposal? Nope, nope, and nope. It wasn’t long before I realized that ALL the variables that make me love the Palace so much, can be accredited to the hotel itself. Unwaveringly warm hospitality, exquisite food, and attentive staff- all attributable to the hotel- are what have made every single visit to the Palace an unforgettable one. Let’s not even try to ignore the fact that any place that serves TWG teas is a place after my own heart, but that’s another post for another day.

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All of you must know now, that I love Dubai. Love, love, LOVE. Dubai was (and still is, alhumdulillah) my first home with M. That itself is enough for Dubai to enjoy a special place in my heart. But Dubai is freaking awesome whether it’s home or a vacation spot, let’s not even think to deny that. There is so much to do and so many places to try that one just can’t keep up; and I think I’ve grown to love that commotion- it keeps me on my toes. Because I love the Palace Downtown so much and because Dubai has my heart in her palm, it should only make complete sense that I wanted to have a little staycation at the former.

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I only spent one night at the Palace but oddly enough it didn’t feel rushed at all and turned out to be my most favorite staycation ever. Check-in was smooth and welcoming (thank you, Sharief). Welcome (and farewell) drinks were Gahwa Arabi and Karak Chai, served with a variety of dates to pick from, and served by a friendly Kandourah-clad gentleman. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the fact that said gentleman was Indian and I ended up explaining to him that the Gahwa I’m drinking is not “Saudi”(as per his description of it), but more specifically “Hijazi”- since there is no such thing as a standard Saudi Gahwa. He was pleasantly receptive towards the new information.

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This was the first time I stayed in a ground level room, and initially I was disappointed by that because I didn’t have a direct fountain view from my room. As soon as the sun decided to spare us of some of it’s harshness though, I began to appreciate love how I could walk out of my room onto an expanse of lush green grass, and walk back in to my room any time. With no need to hike though long hotel corridors to reach the outdoor parts of the hotel, I kept sliding open my balcony door, taking the 10 second walk in my bedroom slippers to the coveted bench that grants a breathtaking view of the fountain show and loving every ounce of it. While I could stayed outside for longer each time, I was really enjoying the luxurious option of seeing a fountain show every half hour and plopping into bed right after each show ended!

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The room was not the best successor to the mansion I stayed in on my last staycation (Waldorf Astoria RAK), but it would be unfair to draw a comparison in room/suite sizes between the two because Waldorf was just from another (much larger) planet! The room had the whole dimly-lit, Arabesque theme going on, and the room was not as sun-kissed as I like for everything in my life to be. Also, I would have expected it to be more palatial in terms of furniture but barring the engraved motifs in some of the woodwork, it was pretty standard and well-used (albeit clean) hotel decor. The bathroom was sparkling and luxurious though and I was definitely a huge fan of that, but here’s what baffled me: there was no shower bidet. No, it’s not TMI. It’s exactly the kind of information a person like me wants. There was a bidet, but no shower bidet; which strikes me as very odd in this part of the world.

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I was also supremely and (ridiculously) interested in experiencing what it felt like to be able to walk to Dubai Mall, and walk back to the comfort of a soft bed, so I did just that. I didn’t time myself with a stopwatch – and  I wish I had- but it took no more than what felt like two minutes for me to get from the front door of the hotel to the bridge that connects Souq Al Bahar to The Dubai Mall. For a person who lives a 40 minute drive away from The Dubai Mall, this was inexplicably thrilling. I also felt unusually intolerant towards the standard mall chaos (because of course a million thread count sheets were only a stone’s throw away), so I did a quick Holland & Barret run, TWG run, Fortnum & Mason run (mandatory stops when in The Dubai Mall), and headed back to the hotel. Including the detour I took for pictures, the round trip from my room back to my room took 45mins, and I came back to find the most exquisite wooden chest of fruit and dates waiting for me. Two cups of Arabic Gahwa later, I was ready to be called Princess.

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Between the religiously punctual viewing of each and every single fountain show that took place during my stay there (which I simply can’t get enough of, no matter how long I live in Dubai and how often I see the fountains), I squeezed in a dinner at Asado; followed by sheesha, green tea and several games of checkers with M in the poolside Cabanas. Guess who kicked whose behind in two out of three games? I, but of course. What’s cool is that the cabanas are air-conditioned and hence save you from the sweltering heat that’s a byproduct of summer in Dubai. The Cabanas had an extensive menu of food, desserts, cold and hot beverages and of course- sheesha. M had the grape and mint, which he loved very much, but I need to digress for a moment and just point out how enormously hospitible the service was, both at Asado and at the Cabanas.

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I usually have no trouble sleeping through rain or storm, and maybe it was the dozen cups of green tea, or maybe it I felt bad for M having to work all night on an urgent work deadline, or maybe I was simply just too excited for breakfast; but I unintentionally ended up pulling an all-nighter myself and caught up on some reading. If it’s any consolation, I did this with my rear end parked in the super comfy bed on the snow-white, million thread-count (what I imagine for to be Egyptian cotton) sheets, so technically it was a win-win.

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Since I was up all night, I got to witness the Burj Khalifa like never before: at sunrise. It was one of the most breathtaking and calming sights I’ve ever witnessed in Dubai. Also since I had been up all night and the hunger pangs began to kick sooner rather than later, I threw on my abaya over my PJs at 6 a.m sharp and flip-flopped over to Ewaan with an ear-to-ear smile, thinking to myself: “Breakfast, I’m comin’ for ya!”

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Here’s something everyone needs to know about me: I do not rush through breakfast, ever. Late for work? Breakfast must not be rushed. Missing a flight? Breakfast cannot be rushed. A tornado heading my way? I can’t die on a breakfast-less stomach, can I? So, I took my sweet time grazing over breakfast till- wait for it- 9am, then finally headed back to the million thread-count bed for a quick nap before we checked out. I swear to God, peeling myself off of that bed at noon was no easy feat, but M had a meeting to get to and he was my ride, so yeah.

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As I once said to a former boss in my resignation letter (which has since become one of my friends’ favorite jokes): all good things must come to an end; and so we checked out and headed home. A farewell cup of Gahwa and a smooth check-out followed by the palatial view  with an urban skyline in the backdrop whilst waiting for the valet to bring our car around provided me with a final reminder of how much I love this hotel and this city and will continue to do so for what will hopefully be a very long time. From the food to the service to the view and the decor- everything was perfect. This staycation was one of the most relaxing and exquisite #MyDubai experiences that I have ever experienced and just when I though I couldn’t possibly fall more in love with this hotel, I surprised myself- or rather, The Palace did. Thank you so much for having me, Team Palace.

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