The Waldorf Astoria name is synonymous with luxury, as is Dubai. So is this match made in heaven? MARK HARADA finds out.
Address: Crescent Road, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
Number of rooms: 319
Check in/out: 2pm/12pm
How was the welcome and service? For a relatively new hotel – it opened in December 2013 – the service at the Waldorf is pretty good. There’s loads of help on hand to ensure my arrival is smooth, and check-in is quick and easy. But best of all there are plenty of smiles, which continue throughout my entire stay. Just don’t expect super fast service if you need something brought to your room, especially if it’s located as far away from the lobby as my room is, as this property is big. A special mention should go to the staff at breakfast, who like many in Dubai, hail from a wide range of backgrounds, and are particularly friendly.
Room size and features True to its name, my King Superior ‘partial view’ room offers glimpses of bright blue sea. Unfortunately, these lie either side of a huge, and rather unsightly, building about 20-30 metres directly in front of my balcony. As it turns out, I don’t spend too much time on the large balcony anyway, preferring to take advantage of the comforts inside, which are plentiful.
Atop dark timber floor boards, the elegant room features a signature, and super comfy, Waldorf Astoria king bed, double sofa, big work space, huge walk-in closet, 42-inch HDTV and free (and fast) wifi. There’s also a coffee pod machine, a great selection of teas (including a fantastic Moroccan mint) and lots of English Hildon mineral water, both still and sparkling. A nice touch is the set of ‘inspiration dice’, which help indecisive guests choose an activity: beach or shopping; sightseeing or staying in – let the dice decide. The other dice helps guests choose an eatery in which to dine.
The oversized bathroom is an opulent, marble affair, with double vanities, a large bath (with its own tv), and separate shower, with choice of rain or hand-held showerhead. There’s also some nice Salvatore Ferraganio toiletries presented in a beautiful pearl case.
What facilities does the hotel offer? The Waldorf boasts its own private 200-metre beach, with soft white sand, and warm and clear water. Alternatively, there are two temperature-controlled swimming pools as well as a shaded baby pool. For the active, there’s a tennis court, fitness centre or activities like fishing and even parasailing, while sightseeing tours can also easily be arranged. For the less active, there’s the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa, which can be enjoyed while Coco's Kids Club supervises the children.
The Waldorf also offers a 24-hour business centre for those who can’t leave work behind.
What food and beverage options are there on site? The Waldorf prides itself on its food and beverage offering, which comprises six restaurants and lounges featuring ‘fine-casual’ dining at 3-star Michelin Chef Heinz Beck’s ‘Social by Heinz Beck’, South East Asian cuisine at LAO, all-day dining at Mezzerie, afternoon tea at Peacock Alley, and cocktails at Serafina Bar. For something special, head to LAO or Social for Waldorf’s take on the classic Dubai brunch, or better still, to Palm Avenue for poolside dining.
Breakfast at the hotel is excellent, with a large, but not overwhelming, assortment of western and eastern cuisine, from which I aim for the omelette bar, freshly made crepes and awesome Chinese congee. But the real highlight for me is the Arabic food section, which features some really good hummus, labna, moutabel, baba ganoush salad and pickled vegetables, washed down with some of Dubai’s famous fresh lemon and mint drink.
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Did you find the location convenient? If you’re looking for a stay in a quiet, yet beautiful beachside location, you’ll love the Waldorf’s position on the outermost frond on The Palm Jumeirah archipelago. If you see yourself wanting to explore more of Downtown Dubai or Old Dubai, which is where most of the action in Dubai happens, you’ll likely find the commute between the Waldorf and these parts too laborious, particularly when there are plenty of very good hotels in the downtown vicinity. The property is also located quite far from the airport, around 40 minutes by car.
Would you recommend the hotel for couples, families or groups? Families or corporate travellers may find the Waldorf’s location too far away from where they ideally want to be; for instance, Dubai’s malls and CBD, respectively. Having said that, the Astoria does offer enough within the resort to keep families well entertained and business travellers connected. But this property is probably best suited to couples that are looking for a relaxing seaside escape in a luxurious setting. And it does this well.
What was the best thing about the hotel/resort? For me, the resort’s palm-fringed outdoor areas and its private beach, which boasts water so clear, you can see fish scurry away as you swim. There are free deck chairs and umbrellas, but don’t forget your sunglasses, because the beach, like much of Dubai, is very bright.
Verdict? For its location, far from downtown Dubai, the Waldorf won’t be for everyone. But on the flipside, there are few positions anywhere in the world as unique as The Palm Jumeirah. So if you want a couple of days to thaw out after a visit to chilly Europe, or you’re on your way back to wintery Australia, this hotel is worth checking out.
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