I stayed at the Raffles as part of a weekend getaway in February with members of my extended family. This was our first stay at a Raffles property and we were looking very forward to this trip after hearing a lot about this hotel and the storied background of the hotel chain.
LOCATION: The Raffles forms part of the Wafi City complex in the Al Hurair/Oud Metha districts. It is next to the massive Grand Hyatt hotel complex off Dubai Creek, within fifteen minutes of Dubai International Airport and downtown Dubai along Sheikh Zayed Road. Its location is convenient for guests who need proximity to the airport and downtown since it's roughly equidistant between the two. There is a mall that forms part of the Wafi City complex, but it is relatively dead compared to the intense foot traffic Dubai's other mega-malls see.
ENTRANCE/LOBBY: The Raffles is designed as a massive pyramid and is resplendent in ancient Egyptian motifs. Carved obelisks everywhere, beige sandstone, black marble and gold detailing make for a very refined and luxurious first impression; I expected to be a bit gaudy in typical Dubai fashion, but the design is sophisticated without being obnoxious. The lobby is large and airy, with water features, plenty of seating and a large reception area.
ROOMS: We initially booked a king room but requested an extra bed over the phone before we flew in to Dubai, which the hotel confirmed. When we arrived, however, we found out that our room wasn't ready despite our previous arrangements and no extra bed was allocated. We waited in the lobby for the better part of an hour, which was very inconvenient given one member of my family is advanced in age and needed rest and medication. After multiple visits to the reception, a demand to see the manager and many apologies later, we were given a room on the Raffles Club floor but interestingly, without access to the Raffles Club. We expected the management to at least make up for this but at this point, we brushed our inconveniences with the way we were dealt with aside and just wanted to settle in. An extra bed was finally sent to our room half an hour later.
That being said, the room was huge - the size of some apartments in Europe. They have walk-in closets, separate sleeping and living areas with a large furnished balcony and a very spacious bathroom with a double vanity, corner bathtub [with windows opening onto the room], a separate rain shower and a toilet and bidet housed in a dedicated alcove. The room was nicely maintained, luxurious and well laid-out without being fussy and allowed us to relax and unwind after our mishap with the front desk. The hotel's three-sided pyramid shape offers views over the downtown Dubai skyline, Wafi City or the Creek; our room overlooked Wafi and the gardens above the mall. Very calm and quiet and sufficiently away from the noise of traffic.
FOOD/BEVERAGE: We ordered room service twice during our stay and found the selection to be very good for the hotel's class, but were slightly irritated when some of the options we asked for were said to be unavailable at the time. That aside, the food we did order was made to a very high standard and delivered within a forty-five minute window. Granted, many five-star hotels in this day and age strive for delivery in under half an hour, something I hope the Raffles will be able to do.
LEISURE: The hotel has a Raffles-branded Amrita Spa with separate facilities for men and women [jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, showers and changing areas], a mixed gym and an outdoor pool deck with adjacent jacuzzi. The outdoor pool was beautiful, with the pool being of a large size and good depth, but the water was slightly too cold for my liking. The pool deck was well-staffed, has a sufficient number of deck chairs and loungers; I never saw more than six people there at a time. I was frequently offered complimentary ice tea; an awesome plus. One more gripe I had, though [and this is beyond the hotel's control], is the sound of traffic; the pool deck is built parallel to the highway, so all you hear is the sound of cars zooming by. The men's section of the spa, however, was very tranquil, clean and top-notch.
FACILITIES: As mentioned earlier, the hotel is connected to a mall that sees a negligible amount of people during the day and night. It makes for a good walk to explore the area, but the selection of shops and lack of people makes it rather dull. There are a few restaurants that offer alternatives to eating at the hotel, though.
SERVICE: This is where the hotel falters and cost this review two stars. Being a seasoned traveller, I heard a lot about Raffles hotels' signature service and their quest for ultimate luxury and was looking forward to experiencing this, but I didn't feel like the majority of the staff at the Dubai property delivered. Service at the reception was spotty at best, with the staff seeming a bit cold, lost and overly apologetic rather than proactive. We strongly disliked waiting almost an hour for an unready room despite our prior arrangements and how the management didn't make it up to us in any way [a Four Seasons, for example, would see a personalized note from the general manager, plate of chocolates or an altogether upgrade offered to us as an apology]. It took nearly two hours and four phone calls to the concierge to deliver our bags to our room ["The bags are on their way."], and I eventually had to go down to the lobby only to see our bags sitting in a pile in the corner of the lobby without anyone attending to them. Only after lugging them halfway across the lobby alone did an attendant offer to take them up. I also arranged a pick-up from and drop-off to the airport in the hotel's Range Rover. The car was available on arrival and we were offered cool towels and water; a nice touch. For our departure, however, the car wasn't ready, the hotel lost my reservation for it despite my pre-booking and payment for the car and then kept us waiting half an hour for the car to come around. At 250 AED a ride, we expected a lot more readiness and delivery on their part.
I would, however, like to point out that our floor butler and two male pool attendants were readily available when needed and enthusiastic to help. If only the other staff followed their credo.
OVERALL: The property itself is very beautiful and well-maintained, with a good location that places it within close proximity of Dubai's sightseeing and transportation hotspots. Unfortunately, the service was a complete letdown and marred what could have otherwise been a very ideal stay. We will be exploring other venues for our next visit to Dubai.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A stunning landmark hotel in a distinctive pyramid shape merges Asian style with an Egyptian aesthetic. Ideally located in the city center with a shopping adventure lies around the corner as Raffles Dubai adjoins Wafi mall, one of Dubai's most exclusive shopping and leisure destinations, home to hundreds of boutiques offering an extensive selection of international haute couture, jewelries and gifts in addition to nearby authentic souks, including the impressive Khan Murjan, offering traditional crafts by artisans from the region. Featuring 252 luxurious rooms and suites, this award-winning Dubai hotel offers some of the most spacious rooms in the city, each with generously-sized private balconies. Brilliant contemporary interiors, faultless service and 7 superb restaurants and bars offering an extensive array of dining, entertainment and clubbing options, while Raffles Spa beckons with a pampering menu to emerge transformed, like a lotus that journey from bud to the radiance of full bloom. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Raffles Dubai Hotel Dubai
- Raffles Hotel Dubai
- Dubai Raffles Hotel