Review: Ritz-Carlton DIFC
The hotel stands behind the DIFC’s main Gate building, which it joins via a direct walkway, and at a remove from the main Sheikh Zayed Road highway that runs through the city. This means that visitors needing to do business in the DIFC are just a few minutes’ walk from their destination, while also being able to get around Dubai with relative ease.
The property is 14 storeys high, with clean lines and a light limestone exterior and elegantly proportioned, epitomising the chain’s reputation for understated luxury – although this is definitely a departure from the Ritz-Carlton’s other Dubai property, which, being on the beach, is much more of a low-rise, spread-out resort.
Rather than landscaped relaxation gardens, this hotel capitalises on its location to provide a hub for entertaining clients and visiting business partners and for guests seeking luxury accommodation a stone’s throw from the DIFC, offering wind-down facilities such as its excellent spa – as well as offering first-rate pampering for the weekend break crowd.
Guests enter the reception from the central courtyard, which provides a barrier that distances you from the hustle and bustle of city life just outside the walls. The courtyard also showcases one of the hotel’s primary eye-catching features, a 14-storey external waterfall, which cascades down the height of the building into a shallow pool. The interior is muted but classy, and you get the impression that this is a destination for visiting executives rather than family package tours.
The hotel has 341 guest rooms (of which two are Ritz-Carlton suites), ranging from deluxe, to Club and selection of suites and 124 serviced apartments ranging from one to four-bedrooms (125 square metres to 350 square metres) for those planning longer stays. The property also features the Ritz-Carlton’s Club Lounge facilities for guests in that tier, which has a range of food and beverage options throughout the day, and offers a quieter atmosphere than the hotel’s public areas.
There is a ballroom within the property able to accommodate large gatherings, and eight function rooms – capitalising on the offerings for the resident DIFC clientele. The hotel also offers guests business services including secretarial and translation services and high-speed internet access throughout.
The rooms themselves are well proportioned and of a good size (the bathrooms in the Club rooms having his and hers sinks and separate shower wet area and stand-alone marble bathtub), decorated in muted colours with an art deco theme. The bedrooms and living areas feature floor-to-ceiling windows and all of the amenities and finishings are excellent, with a quality reflecting the brand’s reputation in the market – including feather beds and 400-thread count linens. In addition to the wireless access and 32-inch TV, the rooms also have some tech-gadget extras, such as the curtains being activated via a master remote control and the mirror in the bathroom turning into a secondary TV display.
The Ritz-Carlton DIFC has three restaurants onsite; Center Cut, whose menu revolves around prime beef dishes; Blue Rain, which is the hotel’s signature Thai restaurant; and French bistro-style outlet Can Can. Blue Rain is a particular favourite, with a relaxed water theme running throughout. The hotel’s external waterfall flows directly outside the central windows, giving a pleasant impression of rainy weather and cooler climes, with a smaller water feature on an internal wall, which then pools over down the centre of the seating area covered by glass. The food is excellent and reasonably priced, and – as elsewhere in the hotel – the staff are attentive, knowledgeable and very friendly. There are also two bars; No 5 Lounge bar, and the Lobby Lounge.
There is no external swimming pool, although the fitness centre features an indoor one, but there is an exceptional onsite spa that offers a range of male and female treatments.
With Dubai hosting a number of five-star hotels catering to the emirate’s numerous visitors, it can be difficult for one to stand out from the pack. The Ritz-Carlton DIFC has managed to do this rather well, combining a luxury offering with a clear focus on its core business clientele – offering the DIFC’s executives a new business and social hub, while positioning itself to attract the most discerning of travellers.