Summer in Dubai – coupled with two long Eid weekends – is a bit of an ideal situation for staycationers. Not only do hotel rates plummet, but the city is also ripe for the picking in terms of pool deals, family discounts, special offers, and seasonal packages. And this begs the question: which hotel should I book?
Savoir Flair set out to find you an answer, discovering everything from an art-centric property and a hotel centered around cinema to a charming little B&B located by Dubai Creek, a new opening that will keep the kids entertained for hours on end, the region’s first member of Design Hotels, and more, proving there’s a boutique hotel that’s just perfect for you – regardless of what you’re into.
Al Seef Heritage Hotel
Perfect for the: History Buff
Stepping into Al Seef Heritage Hotel is like stepping back in time – so much so that even the SuitePad in your room will feel out of place. Then again, nothing at this local heritage-inspired property feels typical. Here, wooden chests hold everyday hotel amenities, dolly light switches and rotary-style phones add an element of yesteryear, stone floors and palm beams offer architectural authenticity, sadu fabrics enrobe the floor cushions of the majlis outside your room, and dinner at onsite restaurant Saba’a embodies the true essence of a home-cooked meal. And get this: even the exfoliating soap uses sands from each of the seven emirates.
Ironically, the property has been open for under one year, creating yet another reason to (finally) explore Al Seef, a leisure destination located on the south bank of Dubai Creek. The vicinity is still very much a trade hub, with bustling souks and weathered dhows full of merchandise guaranteeing many opportunities for exploration. Jaded residents and first-time tourists alike will love boarding an abra for a bargain AED 1 to cross the creek, walking over to Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, photographing the barjeel wind towers that form the Al Seef skyline, and getting lost in the seemingly endless alleys of the area. Our hope is that you stumble upon Dukan Namlet to discover Namlet, an Emirati soda dating back to the 1920s, before returning to your beautiful bayt for the night.
Zabeel House The Greens
Perfect for the: Social Butterfly
The vibe at Zabeel House The Greens is a reminiscent of an ongoing party – and everyone’s invited. From the youthful neighborhood it calls home to the communal tables at aptly named eatery Social Company, from fitness-studio-meets-spa Native Club that welcomes both guests and residents to its countless #instaworthy nooks and crannies, this is the definitive pick for the social butterfly. Equal parts trendy and easygoing, the hotel houses New York loft-style rooms, but for the ultimate splurge, book ‘The Apartment’ suite for plenty of space, plenty of art, a luxe bathtub, a slick Smeg fridge, and frosted glass rife with inspirational lines.
Even the hotel lobby is sensory overload, but in a good way. Between the large-scale murals, quirky sculptures, and works by locals artists for sale awaits the Give & Take installation that encourages guests to share advice on places and experiences with their fellow travelers. Another must-see is the pop-up store that stocks local lifestyle brand Georges of Dubai alongside the likes of Leif and Tobago. However, our pick of the property’s many highlights has to be the always buzzing Lah Lah, which serves Pan-Asian favorites cooked to perfection – and devoid of culinary gimmicks, thankfully – alongside vegan options aplenty. Foodies will find continued joy in specialty food stores 1004 Gourmet (Asian) and Pure South (Australian), both of which are located at the hotel’s doorstep in Onyx Tower 1.
Perfect for the: Traveler-Not-Tourist
Yes, parking in the area is a nightmare and, yes, you’ll almost certainly have to ask someone for directions after walking around in what feels like a maze, but that’s what makes Mazmi Casa the definitive hidden gem on this list. Located in Bur Dubai, this intimate (read: three rooms) B&B serves up a truly honest snapshot of the city, what with Textile Souk, Shiva Temple, and Grand Mosque in the vicinity – you’ll find the scurry of tourists, shoppers, and worshippers downright exhilarating. The backstory here is as charming as the people behind it; Mazmi is owned by an Italian woman named Ilaria and her Emirati husband Mohamed Al Mazmi, so adding further diversity to the property is their collective backgrounds.
Ilaria’s aesthetic sense is reflected in all three rooms, but ‘Samaa’ (with its bathtub located inside an original wind tower) is the one to beat. But regardless of where you end up, you’ll love the Afghan fabrics, black-and-white photographs depicting fishing scenes, and coffee table books that share your space. The pièce de résistance is the eponymous restaurant that sits right at the edge of Dubai Creek, translating to killer views and the ultimate sunset spot. Mohamed’s heritage is palpable in the menu that promises regional favorites with a twist – and delivers. ‘Mazmi Hummus’ in infused with basil and sun-dried tomatoes, ‘Shawarma Our Way’ is done with paratha instead of pita, and ‘Umm Ali’ comes with a side of ice cream. And speaking of: checking out without giving the homemade saffron ice cream a try would be sacrilege.
Rove At The Park
Perfect for the: Young at Heart
Past the industrial warehouses and dusty billboards on Sheikh Zayed Road is Rove At The Park, a veritable playground for kids and adults alike. For starters, this brand spanking new hotel in located in Dubai Parks and Resorts, where over 100 rides and attractions spread across Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Water Park await. And luckily for any guest who stays before the end of September, Rove at the Park has a special opening offer of AED 199 per night inclusive of two tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts.
But all that’s just the beginning because practically everything on the property is designed to add an element of fun to your stay – think: kitschy wall art and even kitschier tchotchkes, a foosball table, a life-size chess board, a 25-meter swimming pool, a wet play area, a PlayStation zone, buckets of Lego bricks, Fatboy bean bags, and even a Sonic the Hedgehog arcade machine. Heck, even the self-service laundromat here plays reruns of Friends. And if retail therapy is your definition of fun (no judgement), the hotel offers regular shuttle buses to the nearby The Outlet Village, where upscale brands and designer labels are on sale all year round. Sold?
XVA Art Hotel
Perfect for the: Evolved Aesthete
Putting art hotels worldwide to shame is XVA Art Hotel, which hosts XVA Gallery and regular talks led by leading art historian Rose Balston alongside 15 unique rooms themed around cultural motifs. One is inspired by the ancient Hand of Fatima talisman, another boasts an original wind tower and curtains made with upcycled burlap from abra boats, yet another is inspired by the traditional attire worn by local men. The hotel is situated deep in the aforementioned Al Fahidi neighborhood, so even if you get lost, you’ll encounter public art, authentic souvenir shops, and scenic alleys along the way. And because the area is a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find yourself immersed in architecture dating back to the mid 19th century.
But back to the riad-like property and its breathtaking public spaces. There’s three tree-shaded courtyards that exude tranquility, one of which houses XVA Café, where the dishes are primarily vegetarian and the mint lemonade has achieved cult status. We also loved the rather romantic rooftop and contemporary artworks displayed throughout – all of which are for sale. More practical purchases (think: scented candles and statement rings) await at the concept store that is discreetly tucked away, but worth discovering. XVA Art Hotel even has its own tailors if you need fabrics sourced from the nearby Textile Souk fashioned into clothing or cushion covers! Other recommended experiences in the area? A stop at Dubai’s oldest art space The Majlis Gallery, a meal at Arabian Tea House, and a walking tour with Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Perfect for the: Modern-Day Minimalist
Not only is Form Hotel the region’s first member of Design Hotels, but it’s also beautifully minimalist – just think of it as the hospitality equivalent of an all-black ensemble. The Art Deco-inspired rooms aren’t trying to be trendy because they don’t need to. Instead, timeless design elements and neutral color palettes are complemented by subtle splashes of color, courtesy of custom art photography. Taking center stage are the things we value in life and on holiday: a good night’s sleep, guilt-free indulgences, and technology that makes life easier. That translates to an absurdly comfortable bed, wholesome cuisine at Roots Kitchen, and a perpetual state of hyper-connectivity. Through digital concierge ‘ROB’, you can order room service, get instructions on using the pour-over coffee kit, and ask just about anything.
ROB also links to ‘weForm’, allowing guests to do everything from purchase designer pajamas to request a curated art tour, a private butler, a personalized yoga session, and more. Wellness dominates the hotel’s philosophy, which is why you’ll notice organic snacks in the minibar, Elemental Herbology bath products, and even a sanitized TV remote. This mindset takes the elevator up to the rooftop, where a gym, a pool, loungers, and light bites collide at Salūs Housetop. Back on ground level, take a closer look at the wooden beams that are collectively entitled The Deconstructed Dhow. Sleek and towering, this installation pays tribute to Al Jadaf’s boat-building heritage and represents the ribs of an Arabian dhow. The lobby is also where you’ll find Concept Boutique by Form, well worth a visit for its nostalgia-centric perfumes by Arcadia and cool souvenirs by Dubailove. Love.
Studio One Hotel
Perfect for the: Bona Fide Cinephile
Lights, camera, action – and plenty of action – awaits at the recently opened Studio One Hotel in Dubai Studio City, a project dedicated to the growth of film and TV in the UAE. It’s no wonder, then, that you’re greeted by a handful of familiar faces upon check-in – Rami Malek and Marilyn Monroe included. Everything at the property screams cinema, but manages to be surprisingly subtle about it. In a case of blink-and-you-miss-it, an overhead mural depicts a stormtrooper making his way across Dubai, a bucket of popcorn will keep you company in your room, and an “on air” light box flickers on once a room is occupied. What the hotel does best is take the individual guest’s needs into account.
Gone are the days of dialing for a dental kit as there’s a self-service pantry located on each floor, and you decide what your minibar is stocked with. Oh, and why aren’t more hotels taking after Studio One and offering toilet reads? The dynamic property is evolving daily, with the opening of an onsite cinema as well as more hair and beauty services at N&J by Samer salon on the horizon. Until then, however, there’s several homegrown eateries – each with a distinct personality – congregating around the pool as Larte, Mr Miyagi’s, The Irish Village, and The Maine all operate outlets here. El Chapo’s Tacos is the new kid on the culinary block, and promises Tex-Mex with a twist, familiar tunes, ladies’ nights deals, and campy fun. And unlimited ice cream. Our take? Book one of the four rooms with bunk beds, get your friends together, and let Studio One Hotel do the rest.