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Hotel Highlights

  • Slickly designed rooms and private villas with pools, 15 mins from airport
  • Pampering at Lime spa and culinary delights at Rare restaurant and Epicure
  • Watch afternoon chukkas or ride at a premier equestrian facility; fabulous shopping

Overview

Superlative service and seemingly endless facilities and activities await guests at Dubai’s Desert Palm hotel . After shopping in the souks, take in a world-class polo match on the terrace before primping for a glitzy night on the town. This is the Arabian sister property to Huvafen Fushi, so, if you’re familiar with that lovely crown jewel, you know what’s in store.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Desert Palm with us:

Afternoon tea for two at Jewel, with home-made scones, sandwiches and all the trimmings; guests staying five nights or more also get round-trip airport transfers

Facilities

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Desert Palm - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Need To Know

Rooms

38, including six pool villas, 13 pool residences and a two-bedroom villa.

Check–out

11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Later check-outs are subject to availability and, up to 6pm, incur a cost of 50 per cent of the room rate. After 6pm, you will be charged the full room rate.

Rates

Double rooms from $225.97 (AED830), excluding tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of AED10.00 per room per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include à la carte breakfast at Epicure.

Also

Book your holistic spa treatments at Lime well in advance to avoid disappointment. Staff can also arrange hair stylists, personal shoppers and private tours – just ask.

At the hotel

Tennis/squash courts, polo pitches, riding school, swimming pool, spa, sauna, steam room, shop, DVD library, free WiFi. In rooms, LCD TV/DVD, iPod, B+O stereo, minibar, coffee maker, Ren toiletries. Villas also have kitchens and pools.

Our favourite rooms

All the Palm Suites have the same facilities and gizmos galore, but we like seven with views of the polo field best. Three in the left wing overlook the gardens; those on the right have pool views. Palm Suites benefit from bathrooms with natural light (a rarity in Dubai), are reasonably priced and the perfect size for a couple. Pool Villas are great for partners who are more interested in 'alone time' than sightseeing, with private plunge pools and plenty of room to play in; and Pool Residences are ideal for families or small groups, with huge fitted kitchens and living areas. Villa Laylani is the spectacular two-bedroom presidential villa, with private gardens, pools, courtyards and a fantastic roof terrace with sunset views across the main polo pitch.

Poolside

The outdoor infinity pool stretches along the terrace in front of Epicure restaurant, with designer sun loungers and views across the polo fields. Occasional distant traffic noise, depending on wind direction.

Packing tips

Riding gear and a bikini for sunbathing; that’s about it – everything else you can buy or borrow, if it’s not already in your room (umbrellas, robes, slippers, hairdryers, stationery and ironing boards all tucked away in your room).

Also

Over Christmas and New Year, there’s a minimum stay of five nights. Cooking and wine-tasting tutorials can be arranged on site.

Children

Welcome, although this is more of an adult getaway. Under-twos stay free in Palm Suites or Pool Villas. Over-twos accommodated in Pool Residences only; under-12s, AED 184; over-12s pay full rates. Child-minders/children's menus available.

Eco‐friendly

Desert Palm works with a UK-based carbon-offsetting company and its grounds are home to a number of bird species not found anywhere else in Dubai.

Food & Drink

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Desert Palm - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Hotel Restaurant

Rare serves a meaty menu of rare-breed beef (Wagyu, Kobe) and game with a 500-bin wine list. Italianate Epicure café has Missoni-esque décor, a deli, bakery and patisserie; and afternoon tea is served on the Jewel lounge terrace.

Hotel Bar

Red bar supplements Desert Palm’s extensive wine cellars with big-deal brandies, fine whisky and serious cocktails – there’s a full-size pool table too.

Last orders

Epicure, 7am–10.30pm; Jewel, 3pm–5.30pm; Rare, 7pm–11pm, plus noon–4pm on Fridays; Red bar pours its last champagne at 1am.

Room service

24 hours; varied breakfast menu including healthy options (organic cereal with soya milk), plus room-service staples and delicacies such as Beluga caviar and oysters. They even have organic baby food.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Designer casuals.

Top table

At Epicure, snag a window seat overlooking the terrace or sit up at one of the grazing counters for a quick coffee. Opt for a raised booth or a table by the wine room in Rare.

Local Guide

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Desert Palm - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Desert Palm’s Lime spa is a decadent underground haven with six top-notch treatment suites: therapies run the gamut from basic manicures and sports massage to holistic rituals and 24-carat gold facials. Men and mothers-to-be have their own treatments to choose from. Fresh juices and a spa menu are also available, if you’re determined to detox.

Riders will be in seventh heaven here: the equestrian facilities are second to none, with 300 stables and four polo pitches. Jogging and riding tracks loop around the grounds, so beasts with two or four legs can get plenty of exercise; the spa boutique even stocks special beauty products for the dedicated equestrienne with a T-shirt tan and a tender behind. You’re also conveniently located for trips to the Nad al Sheba racecourse and camel-racing track, as well as the open spaces of family-friendly Mushrif Park.

Brush up on your culinary expertise care of the hotel chef, or discover unusual vintages from worlds old and new with the resident sommelier. There are no excuses for being bored here: go micro-lighting, sky-diving or hot-air ballooning above the desert, dive under the surface of the sea or hurl yourself down a ski slope: anything can be arranged by Desert Palm’s concierge (with enough notice, of course – it's best to book these as soon as you've made your reservations).

International City and its giant new China Town is in phase one of development – the Dragon Mart is already open and is almost on your doorstep, if you fancy shopping in China for a day; there are better retail pleasures to be had in town, though, at BurJaman mall, for example.

For more ideas, check out our insider guide to Dubai.

+ Enlarge
Private polo estate

Desert Palm

Al Awir Road, PO Box 103635, Dubai, Dubai, PO Box 119171

Planes

Dubai International Airport is a 20-minute drive away.

Automobiles

The centre of Dubai and the Sheikh Zayed Road are roughly 15 minutes away by car. There’s free parking.

Reviews

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Desert Palm - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

We were met with raised eyebrows and surprised looks when we told our friends that our quest for some winter sunshine was taking us to Dubai. But, look, I pointed out, 30-degree heat, guaranteed great weather and only six hours flying time – you can’t argue with that. Our friends were obviously imagining endless shopping malls and blingtastic 1,000-room hotels populated by those with m…
Read more

Desert Palm

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

We were met with raised eyebrows and surprised looks when we told our friends that our quest for some winter sunshine was taking us to Dubai. But, look, I pointed out, 30-degree heat, guaranteed great weather and only six hours flying time – you can’t argue with that. Our friends were obviously imagining endless shopping malls and blingtastic 1,000-room hotels populated by those with more money than dress-sense. But we had been tasked with discovering Desert Palm, Dubai’s only truly boutique hotel, and were convinced we would see a different side to this larger-than-life destination. Wouldn’t we?

Our flight is a full one and we’re squeezed in next to the quintessential package holiday family – exactly the sort of travellers our friends had told us would be heading there, and whom I was hoping to avoid. But once through arrivals, Bazza, Mrs Bazza and their three junk food-munching offspring join the hordes to queue for their coach transfers, while we are installed in a champagne-coloured leather-interiored 4x4 and plied with cold towels and designer mineral water. Now, that’s more like it. I begin to relax.

After 15 minutes’ drive through a sandy landscape, we sweep into the low-rise luxury of the Desert Palm complex, home to not only the hotel, but also a world-class polo club with stables for 300 horses and a small collection of low-key expat residences that house various CEOs. All this is set in beautifully manicured and surprisingly verdant grounds, punctuated every now and again with a stylish water feature among the bougainvillaea and jasmine.

After a swift and seamless check in, at which we are given the most delicious welcome drink in the world, we’re shown to our room, a Palm Suite, on the first floor of the main building. This is the Desert Palm’s standard room category, but it is very spacious – certainly big enough to have three phones (I’ve always wondered who makes calls on the loo), a generously sized bed clad in Josephine Home linens (we asked) and a massive open-plan skylit bathroom. This comes with double basins, a walk-in monsoon shower big enough for at least six and, as a centrepiece, a gorgeous deep freestanding bath.

The room is pleasingly masculine in style and free of frills – sleek dark woods contrast with creamy stone floors, which must feel particularly heavenly in summer when the temperature regularly tops 50. The room is practical (plenty of desk space plus free WiFi) and full of hi-tech gadgetry, but a tactile array of different fabrics, finishes and textures keeps it interesting. Plus there are plenty of goodies and extras for us to discover. The REN products in the bathroom get the thumbs up from me, and my tea-crazy Mr Smith is bamboozled by the array of exotic designer infusions on offer – he eventually proclaims Fruit Passion and Happy Forest his favourites. A wall of windows makes up on side of our room – handy for when there's a polo match on the field below, but also perfect to gaze at Dubai's iconic skyline, just visible in the distance.

As evening approaches, we descend for a drink on the terrace and then for a meal at Rare, Desert Palm’s fine-dining restaurant. The name gives away the carnivorous bent of the cuisine, but the friendly and helpful staff are entirely unfazed that one of us is a veggie, and we both enjoy our meal immensely.

The next morning we awake to Dubai’s signature bright-blue skies and sunshine – which are particularly welcome as we’re escaping the coldest December the UK has seen for 30 years. We wander down to breakfast, which is taken in the more casual Epicure restaurant beside the lovely pool. As Mr Smith surpasses himself at breakfast – devouring smoothies, chocolate waffles, French toast with fresh strawberries and cream, and Desert Palm’s own home-made granola with berry compote – this turns out to be quite handy. I’m on my second application of factor 15 and approaching the halfway point of my book by the time my husband has finished eating.

We spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool, sunbathing next to tasteful but weirdly incongruous Christmas decorations. We did toy with the idea of booking some treatments at Desert Palm’s lovely spa, but in the end laziness won. That said, we were gutted to later find out that we’d just missed a game of camel polo the weekend before. Guests are invited to play – they sit on the second hump and do all the stick-wielding action, while the camel-driver sits at the front and attempts to control the beast. ‘Attempts’ being the operative word – camels can decide to simply sit down at any moment or, alternatively, they often lose interest in the game completely and wander off into the dunes.

We smugly agree that the Desert Palm is the perfect spot for us. There’s peace and quiet in spades (we’re in the desert, geddit?), but we don’t feel isolated from all the activity in the urban centre just up the road. The stunning skyline views and the traffic that passes the hotel (noticeable, but not enough to bother us) links us to our destination and lets us know we could explore if we wanted to. But would we want to? Thinking back to that family we were crammed into economy alongside on our flight over here, I’m delighted we decided to stay put.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Desert Palm from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The people attending to us were exceptional, from James the GM who shook our hand when we arrived the first time and Christoph who did the same on our return trip. It was like a big family. The Desert Palm is not a flashy place; it is beautifully decorated and positioned in an oasis of green (including polo fields). It was a touch of magic watching a polo practice match while having afternoon tea (free from Mr & Mrs Smith). For those wanting a tasteful experience, relaxation and be looked after with friendliness, grace and charm by all the staff, I couldn't rate it higher.

Don’t expect

Room cleaning could be a bit more on the ball.

Rating: 10/10 stars