Arrival/Check-In: Following a 15-hour journey from New York City to Dubai by way of Amman, Jordan, I arrived at The Palace Hotel Downtown Dubai at about 2 a.m. The trip to the hotel from the airport takes about 30 minutes, although traffic at that hour is nominal compared to rush hour.
The Palace Downtown Dubai remains a gem among several noteworthy Emaar properties in Dubai, including The Address and Vida hotels. It’s nestled within the downtown mall area, standing guard at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. The wow factor kicked in as we drove up the 100-yard driveway, the hotel’s entrance strategically hidden from view of the main road with its array of retail shops and eclectic restaurants.
Several valets greeted me with smiles. The staff embraced their roles with genuine warmth and care.
The lobby was darkened somewhat as I was escorted to the main desk, where I promptly checked in. I was then escorted to my room, followed a few minutes later by my luggage. The gentleman walked me through every aspect of the hotel and guestroom, detailing all services and amenities.
Guest Quarters: I was somewhat disappointed to learn my room was on the first floor, technically two floors down from the main lobby. But my impression immediately changed as I entered. The room, adorned in dark tones, offered everything I expected: an exceptionally comfortable king-sized bed, a spacious desk, a large closet and a two-vanity bathroom with a separate tub and rainforest shower (body wash and loofah included). The room also featured a flat-screen TV with excellent international programming, an elaborate coffee machine and an iPad with 24-hour room service assistance (my favorite) that was incredibly easy to use. But the best was yet to come. I also had access to a private ground-level patio surrounded by beautiful plants overlooking the manmade waterway running through downtown Dubai — an incredible vantage point for viewing the elaborate nightly fountain shows choreographed to music by the likes of Michael Jackson and other classics.
Services/Amenities: Although I did not experience the pool or spa, both looked impressive, and according to another guest, there was “no reason to leave the property.” Each morning, I enjoyed the international breakfast buffet at Ewaan, which opens to a spacious rectangular pool deck and happened to be on the same floor as my room. The breakfast buffet was terrific, including made-to-order omelets and my favorite, an array of fruits and freshly squeezed juices.
Additional restaurants include Thiptara, a one-of-a-kind experience featuring Thai cuisine, and Asado, specializing in Argentinean food. The slow-cooked baby goat coupled with an outstanding wine selection blew me away as we sat outside in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, listened to live music, enjoyed conversation and recognized this hotel as a unique, ageless jewel.
The Experience: This incident sums up my experience: I did not have smaller bills of local currency, and my morning taxi driver could not make change. Although I politely resisted, my valet, Abdullah, insisted on taking the correct fare out of his own pocket. If you’re going to travel to Dubai, an Emaar property is the way to go; The Palace Downtown Dubai blends functional sophistication with a modest amount of luxury and just the right personal touches that remind you of being welcomed into someone’s palatial home.
[item check=yes]Less than 10 minutes for check-in[/item]
[item check=yes]Separate tub and shower[/item]
[item check=yes]Large vanity[/item]
[item check=yes]High-quality towels[/item]
[item check=yes]Powerful, unattached hair dryer[/item]
[item check=yes]High-quality bed linens[/item]
[item check=yes]Large, flat-screen television[/item]
[item check=yes]Large desk with convenient outlets[/item]
[item check=yes]Large, complimentary laptop safe[/item]
[item check=yes]Complimentary in-room WiFi[/item]
[item check=yes]Complimentary bottled water[/item]
[item check=yes]Stocked minibar[/item]
[item check=yes]Ample lighting[/item]
[item check=yes]In-room coffeemaker[/item]
[item check=yes]Iron and ironing board[/item]
[item check=yes]On-site restaurant[/item]
[item check=yes]24-hour room service[/item]
[item check=yes]24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center[/item]
[item check=yes]Turn-down service[/item]
The Palace Downtown Dubai
The Old Town Island
Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
United Arab Emirates
tel 971 4 428 7888
Even if you are not familiar with Chicago, you may already know the Wicker Park neighborhood is one of the city’s “eat like a local” destinations, especially among young professionals whose idea of local is actually quite global. After a decade of high-concept comfort food and gastro-pubs, the Tan family took over a homey space on North Avenue to mix things up with the opening of Cebu. Cebu is not just a Filipino restaurant, but one focused on Cebuano regional cooking along with its Chinese and Spanish underpinnings.
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