A first trip over 11 nights at a gentle pace....mostly eating and drinking.
Friday 22nd July
KLM flights from Glasgow via Amsterdam were fantastic, 1 hour 20 minutes stopover in Amsterdam - Flights were Economy class and we booked well in advance and managed to book window seats on a 2 - 4 -2 configuration. A big plus for us !
Food on the flight was very good - For me it was chickpea salad, red Thai white fish curry and profiteroles for Mrs McP it was salad, pasta and mandarin mouse, probably the best food on a flight for me.
IFE was also very good, listened twice to the new Bruce Springsteen album as my daughter was at the concert in Manchester at the same time, good album that I'll buy when we get back. Movie choice was also very good, watched Chronicle and Tom Hanks movie about 911, huge selection of movies to choose from. Overall - excellent flights from KLM and we would definitely use them again
We arrived in Dubai, went through passport control, visited duty free for Morgan’s Spiced, Smirnoff and ciggies, then onwards to collect our cases.
A ten minute taxi ride (55 dirhams) to the AL Manzil and we were soon into our room on the 3rd floor with a view of the pool and Conservatory below, staff are so pleasant and nice, Stayed up to after midnight and we sit up chatting to 02:00 as we has decided not to go out as we have been travelling all day. The hotel room we have is ideal and lives up to the consistently good reviews on Trip Advisor.
Saturday 23rd June
A long lie and it's down for breakfast in the Conservatory Restaurant, great selection including French toast, waffles, freshly made yoghurts, freshly cooked omelettes, veal bacon, poached eggs and lots of local food that on the first morning I wasn't ready to experiment with (yet) !
Then it’s off to the Dubai Mall to pick up tickets for the Burj Khalifa on Sunday, also for some retail therapy for Mrs McP. I had heard prices in Dubai were a bit high, but in some stores they seemed reasonable and she bought a couple of dresses from H&M for our daughter's holiday to Ibiza. The Mall was very quiet in the morning but got a lot busier mid afternoon, we also spent some time in the Souk Al Bahaar next to the mall, bought some Coke, tonic water and a bag of ice which is nestling nicely in the glass of Macallan I'm sitting sipping at the moment. writing the first two days of this report
At night after a very lazy afternoon and a few room refreshments courtesy of duty free we head back to the Dubai mall, watch the fountains around 7pm and in daylight they were average at best, we went to PF Changs restaurant for dinner - spring rolls to share, Singapore noodles for me and a combo noodle dish for Mrs McP, far too much food for us but we did our best, then it was more window shopping and people watching for an hour or two before we waddled back to the Al Manzil.
Sunday 24th June
Breakfast Al Manzil - more of same – try a couple of smoothies which were lovely, We have 11:00 tickets to go up the tower and head over to the Dubai Mall where the entrance is located. We enjoyed our time up there taking lots of photos and 45 minutes late we are back down. Shopping again is a priority then over to the hotel for some pool time and room time as it was so hot in the afternoon. At night we watched the fountains again and they were much better, we then ate in Indian fast food place (Indian Palace I think) where we both had butter chicken/tandoori combos for around 50 dirhams each - OK it was fast food but excellent quality. Mall area was very busy but not a busy as the Saturday
Monday 25th June
More of same – Another big breakfast at Al Manzil, Subway for Lunch - Chicken Terriaki footlong between us, we discovered this in Las Vegas in March and it brought back a few memories and conversations from there, some more shopping and then back to room for refreshments, somehow mange to finish of the bottle of Macallan- pure greed !!
Back to Burj Khalifa/Mall area in the evening, had paella in a fast food joint Nordsee which was just OK, then watched the Dubai Mall fountains, this time they were incredible and done to the tune of the Magnificent Seven or Henrik's tune if you are from the green side of Glasgow.
Tuesday 26th of June
Breakfast in AL Manzil, then its packing time as we are off to stay in Hilton Jumeriah
A 20 minute taxi ride and costing 47.50 dirhams, under £10 - very reasonable and we arrive at Hilton Jumeriah. at 12:15, there was room on the 1st floor ready but if we could wait another 1.5 hours they could upgrade us to a Suite - a very big thanks to Tkilva and her boss for this. As we had a bit of time to kill we wondered around the pool, garden and beach area, first impressions are fantastic. Also wander along the walk for half an hour but it's over 40 degrees with decent breeze but still a bit to hot for us
Back to the hotel and our room is ready, on the 9th floor (executive floor) - Goodness me what a fantastic upgrade, the suite is massive, seating for 5 in the lounge area, seating in bedroom, great bathroom with bath, separate shower, bidet and toilet. Also a bar area for coffee, mini bar etc. We never ask for upgrades and never ever get one so thank you Hilton for this - what a start to our week there !!
We are full board (option to upgrade to other restaurants with 110 dirhams towards it) so we venture down to the Oceana buffet restaurant just to "see" what's on, Beef and veg soup, beef salad and choc and strawberry gateaux plus a walnut tart (all small portions - honest), Pepsis were 20 dirhams (£4) which seemed a wee bit high but at the moment we are still on a high from the room upgrade
Room 922 overlooks the front entrance of the hotel and the walk and beach beyond, it does have the sun on the balcony in the afternoon through to sunset and that suits us
Dinner at the Oceana was a themed night "Mediterranean" and once again was fantastic, my best bits were a prawn salad and a lamb dish which I've forgotten the name of - not forgetting the 3 small deserts, the were small as we are usually small eaters. Just as well I’ve got the trousers with expanding waste line with me :)
Wednesday 27th June
Take it easy, a gentle walk around the Marina area in the morning after breakfast
Have lunch which again was fantastic, mostly warm seafood for us plus the usual 2-3 small desserts, we spend another hour walking the beach line at the Hilton and head back to the room for some welcome air con and a spiced rum/vodka tasting session
Dinner didn't start well as they had no record of us being full board at the Oceana restaurant, strange considering that we had already eaten there 5 times, food was steak night Mrs McP had two wonderful fillets and well as prawns starters and just the 2 desserts. I'm still slightly annoyed with the restaurant manager and have soup, roast beef from the carvery and a desert or two , so full back to the room to watch the footie and fall asleep and miss it.
Thursday 28th June
Down for breakfast then a quick taxi ride 25 dirhams to the Mall of the Emirates, mostly window-shopping for us and we only bought a soft toy (Camel) for our grand daughter. It was strange to see the ski centre complete with xmas trees, snowmen etc, we get enough cold weather in Scotland so didn't venture in. We only spent 3 hours in there but I'd say the Dubai Mall is slightly better laid out but we did spend considerably more time there.
Back to the Hilton for lunch, not themed but all Italian for me, minestrone soup, rack of lamb with pollenta and asparagus, then Panacotta to round it off. Probably the best lunch I've ever had, Mrs McP had prawns and mussels salad, roast turkey and baked potatoes, and usual desserts. All small portions though :)
At night, after a couple in the exec room happy hour we again ate in the Oceana buffet, theme for tonight was laila al Arabia (middle east cooking) including the customary belly dancer. The food was decent but not really to out taste buds
Friday 29th June
Quick breakfast buffet, apple and ginger crepes were the highlight for me and we decided to go shopping, although very hot we walked to the Dubai Marina Mall, probably about 15 minutes, but very sweaty and needed time to cool off as we arrived, taxi back was only 6 drams so when we go back it’ll be a taxi both ways, Mrs McP got a couple of tops and nearly bought a dress from Monsoon, think we will be back there very soon
Friday brunch where we ate in Oceana again, much larger selection oysters, lots of seafood including piri piri shrimps, huge selection of desserts. I had a seafood soup, beef salad, lamp chops, piri piri shrimps, bread and butter pudding and 2 cheesecakes - all small portions Mrs McP had salad, freshly made pasta with mushrooms and shrimps and 1 or 2 deserts.
Shopping - along the walk midafternoon, we choose the designer part of it, too pricey for us compared to our US shopping jaunts so we decide against buying anything.
At night we spend another hour in the exec lounge, 3 Heinekens/Wines still going down reasonably well. Friday night is an Italian night and we take it easy...... just the 3 courses, Salads, fresh pan fried chicken in mustard and pan fried vegetables, strawberry Pavlova and tiramisu. Really stuffed once again but food at the Hilton is really superb.
Saturday 30th June
Spend two hours at the beach spending some of it in the very warm water, no breakfast for us - good decision I think as we eat bruch around 2pm. highlight for me was three fried lamb steaks with seasoned potatoes, not forgetting the two baked cheesecakes for deserts.
After this we are straight out and a short taxi ride (7.5 dirhams) we are back at the Dubai Marina Mall for another visit to Monsoon, as I said earlier Mrs McP had seen a dress she liked the previous day, she only tried the four on and really liked two of them !
I was nearly pleased for her until I seen they were 250 dirhams each, but hey she's worth it.
Saturday Night - after a couple of room refreshments we head over to the Exec Lounge for another couple the down for an Asian themed night in the restaurant, highlights being shrimp, duck in plum sauce and the best freshly prepared and cooked Singapore noodles I’ve tasted. Out for a gentle stroll along the walk which is really busy with people and cars, still people down the beach swimming and why not !
Sunday 1st July
In bed most of the day with a tummy bug which meant I couldn’t go very far, never had any food in the restaurant but I managed to go to the exec lounge at night so that Mrs McP could have some nibbles, cheese and crackers and 2-3 wines – Ii could just manage a beer.- back to the room for 9 and back into bed – I couldn’t even muster the energy to watch the Euro Final and fell fast asleep
Monday 2nd July
Up at 8 feeling a bit better, after having porridge for breakfast we spent the morning on the beach and in the water, as I still wasn’t 100% we decided not to do much, we did get a taxi over to the Atlantis (25 dirhams) took some photos but access was fairly restricted so we returned back to base an hour later. Spent the day in the hotel and had a very nice lunch with two plates of cream of carrot, some salad and just the one desert baked cheesecake !
In the evening we decide not to go to the restaurant again, opting for wine and nibbles in the Exec Lounge
As we were close to leaving for the airport Jebel Ali delivered a small gift package with a letter chocolates reminding us of our visit next year. – A lovely touch !
Left the Hilton around 9pm and got a taxi to airport was 70 dirhams, gave him 100 and then checked in quickly for about 10 o’clock, our flight wasn’t until 12:50 so we checked our mail/facebook to see our granddaughter walking for he first time – what a way to round off a fantastic holiday. A quick hour turnaround at Amsterdam and we arrived in Glasgow at 08:00 and were home for 09:00 after our younger daughter very kindly picked us up, stayed up all day, Mrs McP had to work in the afternoon ! Back at work on Wednesday for me.
Summing up – Our first trip to Dubai and we really did enjoy ourselves, such a clean city. By splitting our trip across two hotels meant (in theory) we could see more of Dubai, the Al Manzil is well located for the Dubai Mall and visiting the Burj Khallifa and is a great hotel and the staff lovely. We did expect to visit the Bur Dubai market area and the creek but due to the heat and the fact we are in Dubai next year we gave them a miss.
The Hilton Jumeriah was an outstanding hotel, location, pool, gardens, beach and Food were fantastic. All staff in all areas really excelled in making us feel special. For us the upgrade to a suite was a wonderful highlight and would make us stay here again next year. if we tag extra days on to our trip to Jebel Ali.