Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai
last update: 09 May 2020
Our New Year trip for 2020 ran from late January 2020 to mid-March 2020 and involved 8 nights in Dubai and 43 nights in Phuket. We spent 3 nights in Dubai outward bounds, and 5 nights in Dubai on our return flight.
For our 3-day outward bound stopover our travel agent Trailfinders booked us into the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel. We made a decision to stay in the city on the outward bound leg, and on the beach on the return leg.
The downtown Shangri-La is a luxury 5-star hotel that scored an 8.9 on Booking and 5/5 on Trip Advisor. What you have is a kind of post-modern style twin-tower dating from 2003. It is 196 metres tall, has 43 floors, and it originally cost $83 million to build. Until very recently the property was owned by Abu Dhabi-based family-owned conglomerate Al Jaber Group. However, early in 2020 the building was listed for sale on UAE-based Emirates Auction as part fo a multi-billion dirham debt restructuring. It would appear that the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank started an enforcement process against the Al Jaber Group to recover an outstanding loan, and the building was security for the loan (the First Abu Dhabi Bank was the main lender). One report said that the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi would also be sold. The minimum sale price in Dubai was set at AED 700 million, and it was sold for AED 700.2 million ($190.62 million). According to one report the sale did not include furniture or a trade license for the residential and commercial property elements of the tower. But the Shangri-La Group issued a statement saying that the sale would not have any immediate impact on the operation of the hotel.
There are inevitably some weaker points for any hotel, and this one appeared to have a chaotic and crowded breakfast buffet, and a slow check-in. It looked as if the roof-top pool was a bit small as well.
As usual the vast majority of comments were very positive, e.g. the view from the terrace, the Chi Spa, the Shang Palace restaurant, etc. all got good reviews.
As far I can see from the hotel website the sauna, pool, etc. are accessed through the Health Club and the Chi Spa is for massages and facials, etc.
According to the hotel website it's "minutes away from the Dubai Mall and City Walk" and has a pool with "unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa".
As we can see from the above map the hotel is centrally situated in the city, but the 'minutes' away from Dubai Mall and City Walk is more like 1 kilometre through or across a major flyover intersection. And of course the "unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa" will depend upon which side of the hotel the bedroom is situated.
Welcome and Reception
The airport is only 15-20 minutes from the hotel, and we arrived in an Emirates car at about 08:30. The welcome by the hotel doorman was outstanding.
Arriving at 08:30 for your hotel room will often cause some problems, and in fact we had to wait to about 10:00 for our room to be free.
However we were booked into the Horizon Club, so we were invited to have breakfast on the 41st floor.
The hotel has 302 rooms and suites, and includes only two floors for the Horizon Club. The hotel rooms are in one tower, and in the other tower there are 62 apartments and 126 fully serviced and furnished apartments (I think also run by the hotel).
The decoration throughout the hotel underlined the fact that we were approaching the Chinese New Year (starting 25 January 2020).
The check-in went perfectly, and our welcome in the Horizon Club was also outstanding.
We had booked a Horizon Club Executive Room, and we got the keys at about 10:00 in the morning. The real problem was that after a 7 hour overnight flight (plus a 4 hour difference with London) we were both looking forward to a shower and nice snooze.
We actually found that we both suffered a bit of jet-lag for our three days in Dubai, something we did not notice when we continued our trip on to Phuket.
Horizon Club Reception
Our room was on the 41st floor, the same floor as the Horizon Club lounge and dinning area. Below we can see the private reception and lounge of the Horizon Club.
And below we have the small dinning room where breakfast and daily snacks were served.
On the same floor as the Horizon Club facilities there were a small number of rooms, including our own. Below we can see the entrance to the room, with the bathroom to the right, and then the wardrobes.
The 66 square metre room itself was vast and very agreeably decorated, and had all the necessary amenities, i.e. minibar and coffee machine, trouser rack, suitcase rack, plenty of coat hangers, satellite TV, large wall safe, and L'Occitane bath amenities.
We had a view towards the sea, which probably was slightly less impressive than the view toward Burj Khalifa.
Our bathroom was perfect, even if we never used the hydro-massage bath. The walk-in shower was perfect, and my wife was impressed with the separate toilet and bidet alcove.
The room was exceptionally well equipped, with free broadband access, mini-bar, coffee/tea, wall safe, etc.
I only expressed two small criticisms. The first was that it was difficult to figure out how the light switches worked, and the second was that I missed some USB sockets.
The Horizon Club
As a guest in the Horizon Club we had the following complimentary services:-
Buffet breakfast until 10:30
Afternoon tea served between 14:00 and 16:00
Happy Hour between 17:30 and 19:30
Complementary coffee, tea and soft drinks served throughout the day
Complementary pressing service
Access to the pool on the 42nd floor (I think it also included free access to the main hotel pool and spa).
After a long day sightseeing it was nice to get back to a glass of chilled white wine in the early evening. The 'Happy Hour' included a variety of what I would call tapas. We did not eat much in the evening, so what was on offer was perfect. In addition in the kitchen they would produce little extras, such as some tuna or shrimp. From what was on offer you could create a perfect evening mini-meal that was more than sufficient for us.
In preparing for our visit we noticed that there were many comments about how you should dress in Dubai. There was a 'smart casual' dress code in the Horizon Club, but it was very liberally applied. Trousers and a shirt with plain sports shoes was easily sufficient.
There are many advantages to being in the Horizon Club, and we were not able to enjoy all that was on offer. We were on the 41st floor, and just above us on the 42nd floor there was a small pool and outside terrace reserved for members of the Horizon Club. One of the advantages we did enjoy was access to the outside terrace on the 42nd floor. Day and night you can see over the city of Dubai towards Burj Khalifa. This terrace is famous in the city, and in fact one night I found a whole group of people with their tripods and exotic cameras taking pictures of the city.
So on the 42nd floor there is a small indoor pool with an exceptional view. And to one side there is a smallest exterior terrace providing a spectacular view over Dubai city, including the Burj Khalifa.
And finally the 2020 New Year fireworks….
We were not in Dubai for the New Year, but it looked spectacular.
My wife and I cannot be more complimentary about the staff in the Horizon Club, they truly made our stay a memorable experience. And frankly if we were to return to the same hotel it would be because of the staff. The room was great, the views fantastic, and the staff perfect. What more can you ask for.
Hotel Safety Features
On the hotels' website I found a special fact sheet dedicated to hotel safety features. It's the first one I've seen on a hotel website. Sleeping on the 41st floor it was much appreciated.