Sometimes discovering great hotels on your doorstep provides the same buzz as going away… Here’s where to stay during the long, lazy summer and what to expect.
Best for design enthusiasts and night owls
The Abu Dhabi EDITION
Designed by Ian Schrager Company and Wimberly Interiors, with restaurant concepts by star chef Tom Aikens (the youngest ever to win two Michelin stars), the first Edition to open in the Middle East on the Al Bateen peninsula does not disappoint. The design credentials are evident as soon as you reach the five-storey lobby with sinuous balustrade, Studio Drift kinetic art installation produced by Czech company Lasvit, gold leaf Cavicchi billiard table and marble patterned flooring. Two armchairs by local designer Latifa Saeed were inspired by the way Emirati children braid their hair. Check-in and there’s no need to leave, such as the range of dining options.
Best for families and romantics
Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa
“This is the ideal hideaway for couples and families seeking a tranquil escape,” Axel Jarosch, General Manager, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa tells identity. “Embedded deep into the breath-taking backdrop of panoramic desert views, the Resort offers a welcoming and alluring experience, resulting in a relaxing and invigorating escape. It’s designed to draw people together yet provide the freedom to be lost.”
Situated in the historic district of Al Wathba, 40 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi, and home to the annual Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, the hotel features authentic and traditional design, evoking the atmosphere of a traditional Bedouin village. Space is emphasised by the secluded villas with private pools, a 1000-square metre pool and Arabian-style rooms. The Talise Spa further decompresses harried guests with its ‘rejuvenation journeys’.
Best for creatives and pet-lovers
Zabeel House by Jumeirah – The Greens
Designed by LW Design Group, Zabeel House by Jumeirah The Greens takes New York loft living and combines it with Arabic influences. That translates to Insta-worthy interiors, unique artwork and cosy nooks with shelves filled with antique items (cameras, birdcages, ceramic animals).
The vast outdoor terrace features a giant screen for movie night (with popcorn), a swimming pool and running tracks. The in-house gym, Native Club, offers a range of classes from cardio and circuit training to Tai Chi and Pilates. It also houses the Dubai’s first organic spa, providing treatments including luxury facials, detox seaweed wraps and sport-specific massages. Lah Lah is the hotel’s Pan-Asian restaurant and the other foodie haunt is Social Company (or SoCo). If your idea of a holiday is to be inspired, this is a visual feast.
Best for golf enthusiasts
Vida Emirates Hills
A stone’s throw from the new 160-room Vida Emirates Hills – the third to open under the Vida Hotels and Resorts brand of Emaar Hospitality Group – are two championship golf courses: the Karl Litten-designed par-72 course at Emirates Golf Club; and the Address Montgomerie golf course, designed by Colin Montgomerie in association with Desmond Muirhead. Views of the courses are offered by the hotel rooms, which are in keeping with Vida Hotels’ philosophy of individuality, creativity and simplicity. As for dining, Stage2 is the social hub of the resort, perfect for afternoon tea. Origins is an all-day dining concept with clean, healthy food on the menu, and Junipers lounge is ideal for unwinding with family or friends after a round of golf.
Best for decadence
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira
Designed by Jeffrey Wilkes, the new Mandarin Oriental Jumeira features 256 spacious and elegant guest rooms and suites (bathrooms with Natura Bissé amenities is a generous finishing touch), most with private balconies and terraces offering ocean views or the city skyline. The Forest of Lights centrepiece – with trees cast in bronze – makes for a dazzling entrance and there is no shortage of Instagram-worthy backdrops around the property.
Two signature restaurants are Tasca by Portuguese celebrity chef José Avillez, and Netsu, a Warayaki-style Japanese steakhouse by Australian-born chef Ross Shonhan. The Spa enables wellness experiences to be taken to another level, with a focus on locally inspired experiences, heat and water experiences, and a range of holistic rejuvenation and relaxation treatments.
Best for families
Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai
Families looking for sheer indulgence, island seclusion and a packed programme of entertainment for all ages will enjoy Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai. The 194-guest room resort includes two outdoor pools – one family-friendly and one for adults only – and access to a private beach. Among its six restaurants and bars, one dining highlight is the Bacchanal buffet. With open restaurant kitchens serving everything from prime ribs, chilled crab legs and oysters to dim sum and baked-to-order soufflés, Bacchanal’s approach to dining is bound to set new benchmarks for the local brunch scene. Other dining options at Caesars Resort include The Piazza, serving patisserie alongside chai and karak for local tastes; the pool bar and grill, The Sandbar; and a fusion of Mediterranean and Arabic flavours at Cleo’s Table. That’s not forgetting, of course, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell Kitchen.
Best for a long weekend
The Merchant House, Bahrain
The Merchant House, Bahrain, located in Manama’s old town, is home to just 46 suites. Though the hotel made its debut earlier this year, in February, it has already scooped several awards and has just been given a five-star rating. Part of Campbell Gray Hotels, signature details will be recognised by fans of the boutique brand – such as the extensive library with over 1000 books for browsing, as well as the hotel’s rooftop with pool and Indigo Restaurant. Executive Chef Robert Shipman has designed the eclectic menu inspired by his travels across the globe. The Merchant House’s central location, alongside the Bab Al Bahrain souk, makes it the perfect base from which to explore the sights of Bahrain. Providing welcome relaxation upon returning after sightseeing, the hotel suites feature an open-plan seating, kitchen and dining area, as well as a sizeable bedroom.
Best for art travellers
Life House South Beach, Miami
Located in Miami’s vibrant South of Fifth neighbourhood, this transformed 1930s Tudor cottage is just steps from the ocean. Set to open on 1 August, the 26-room Life House South Beach’s aim is to introduce guests to the works of local artists and to provide an authentic South Beach experience. Guests enter a light and airy beach retreat with coastal details, such as whitewashed wood-plank walls and ceilings. Each room has a layer of art, colour and texture that brings to mind the bedroom of an artist. This vibe is carried through the design. The colourful South Beach Art Deco neighbourhood can be seen from the hotel’s garden patio, while the living room/lobby area – which is a cafe-cum-social hub – has an artisanal design scheme that is rooted in styles of the past; the property embodies the home of an artist or writer living by the seashore.