Fashioned in the shape of a pyramid, the Raffles Hotel, Dubai has little in common with the colonial appearance of the Singapore hotel of the same name run by the same group.
But the staff, drawn from 42 nations, does include some of the Singaporeans whose Asian service standards are legendary. This influence is apparent from the calm, quiet and efficient approach to service, in noted contrast to forced American bonhomie of some Dubai hotels.
This is a luxury hotel which stands out in a city now famous for its five-star hotels. The lobby is fabulously opulent with super-high ceilings, acres of marble, water features and even the reception desks are in luminous marble.
On the third floor the conference centre has a spacious ballroom, albeit with chandeliers a mite too small for the space, and two restaurants and a bar. There is also a large terrace for al fresco dining.
The whole building seems far larger inside than it looks from the outside, particularly at the lower levels. The spa complex is an absolute gem with beautiful treatment rooms, a gym and an outdoor swimming pool that also actually functions as a clock: the hours are shown by water shooting above the swimming pool bar and the minutes by a changing curtain of water backing the pool.
There is also a sensational Jacuzzi-bed pool for lying in the sun; a further large Jacuzzi; and two small pools where you can swim against an adjusted current. Guests can also wonder around the several acres of rooftop garden with over a thousand plants and trees imported from Singapore.
However, the standard rooms of the Raffles are its greatest selling point. This is a superlative minimalist design statement in a spacious 70 square metres, with 40-inch LCD TV, breakfast terrace and a fine marble bathroom with separate rainfall shower and toilet and bidet room.
AME Info could not see the suites which open later this month, but if the standard offering is any guide then prepare to be amazed. The hotel will have a total of 11 food and beverage outlets to service its 248 rooms and suites, one in the apex of the pyramid with a nightclub below.
The pharaonic theme runs throughout the hotel but is never intrusive, and melds well with the luxurious level of hospitality. You could imagine yourself in the world of the Pharaohs staying in a palace with unobtrusive servants waiting at your every call.
Doubtless the Raffles, Dubai will soon establish itself as a premium luxury downtown hotel, and it will feel as if the hotel opened many years ago.