AME Info visited the Desert Palm during its soft launch, having pre-booked an afternoon tea for three adults and three children.
As residents in Dubai, we drove to its desert location, and needed advice from the hotel beforehand on how to find it.
At the time of the tea, there were no signs on the roads to indicate where it was, and the receptionist gave us the helpful directions of the access road being 2km after the Dragon Mart mall.
It was accurate, but left out a few unutterable truths. A better description would have been to say ‘drive past the lengthy queue of sewage trucks lining the highway, and we’re the first right after the road to the sewerage works’. But that would never get people into the hotel.
Still, the approach didn’t make for a good first impression.
Once settled in the hotel, the interior décor is pleasant on the eye. The website says that afternoon tea overlooks a field where there is the ‘thrill of the polo match with Arabian horses’. There was no polo match on the day we went, and we were told they happen between September and March – but this was not made clear beforehand.
Initial thoughts of sitting on the veranda overlooking the lush, green – but empty – field were dashed when it became obvious we would be sharing our sandwiches with the local flies, so we sat inside.
Staff were attentive, and told us than rather than pay per child, we could pay per afternoon tea. Costs were Dhs110 per portion, which is reasonable for afternoon tea in Dubai.
Drinks obviously arrive first, and the various types of tea on offer are well presented. You can reorder extra cups and so try different speciality teas.
The menu showing the food sounds delicious. It includes beef, salmon and brie sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and fruits.
Desserts include chocolate truffle, chocolate cake and tarts. With mouths watering, we looked forward to the food’s arrival.
It comes on a three tier platter with the desserts on a side plate. But it all looked so small. The finger sandwiches were gone in a couple of bites. All the food was delicious, in particular the scones, clotted cream and jam. But again, they were just so small.
Now AME Info is a slender team with big appetites, so we asked if we could have more – certainly other hotels will keep the afternoon tea flowing.
We got a couple of additional finger sandwiches. The desserts were, once again, delicious. And, being so rich, were about the right size, so here we felt Desert Palm had got the portion sizes right.
Overall, afternoon tea at Desert Palm was a bit of a disappointment, saved in part by the quality of the food.
It just didn’t have the wow factor that would ensure you recommend it to colleagues and friends. The combination of stingy portions and a dull, if pretty view just failed to sate our appetites and lift it to a must-do experience. Perhaps we were unlucky on the day and a visit during the polo season might lift the experience.
But a comment by a member of our party as we walked to the car summed up the afternoon: ‘So is it Lebanese, Indian or Chinese on the way home?’