360 Bar & Lounge Dubai

360 Bar & Lounge in Dubai has carved a niche for itself by offering some of the best club music in Dubai. It was voted Top 100 clubs in the world for three years running by DJ Magazine, and earlier in 2013, 360 also scooped the Time Out Dubai Nightlife Award for ‘Best Club’.

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

But for me, what makes 360 Bar & Lounge special are its views. It’s split over two floors – an indoor ground level and an alfresco upper deck where there are lounge seats dotted around its circumference. Its circular perspective means that you get spectacular views from wherever you sit, which were particularly impressive during our sunset visit. The music is every changing, but for our chill out it rotated between a DJ set and a live jazz band. It was all very cool, and the magic of sunset over Jumeirah Beach and Burj Al Arab made for an incredible experience.

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar Dubai

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar

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Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa

We next spent two nights at The Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, a luxury 5-star hotel located on the Palm Jumeirah Island. Decorated in a Polynesian tropical theme, The Palm Resort has lush vertical garden walls, and its low-rise perspective creates an oasis of calm and tranquility. The resort only recently opened in July 2013 and has been finished to the highest order.

Green Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort - Garden wall

Garden wall


The Pools

We were spoilt for choice when it came time to chillaxing by the pool. The Sofitel Dubai Palm has five outdoor pools gracefully positioned throughout the resort. For a bit more of a lively atmosphere, we decided to perch ourselves at the spectacular main pool. And even though this was the main pool, it was so well laid out and spacious that at no time did we feel like we were crushed under the weight of other guests. The resort’s four other outdoor pools offered a slightly more secluded experience, perfect for those seeking some peace and quiet. In addition, there was a private beach with wonderful views of The Palm and Burj Al Arab, and water recreational activities could be organised through the resort.

Sofitel Dubai The Palm - Main pool

Main pool

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Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel

After Doha I headed to Dubai, and this time I stayed for two nights at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel. During my last visit to Dubai I was at the JA Ocean View Hotel, and it was then that I discovered the charms of the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) ‘Walk’ with its cosmopolitan mix of restaurants and shops. The Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel is similarly located on The ‘Walk’, and its location in Dubai Marina means that it is within easy reach of the Dubai’s new business hubs: Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Jebel Ali Free Zone.

Sofitel Dubai Jumeriah Beach Hotel

Sofitel Dubai Jumeriah Beach Hotel

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The Sharq Village & Spa Doha

The Sharq Village & Spa, Doha is a gorgeous Hotel run by the famous Ritz-Carlton Group. Built like a traditional Qatari village, it blends a unique traditional desert castle design with modern amenities. The hotel features two pools, beach access, a string of restaurants, its own traditional Arab bazaar and an award winning Six-Senses Spa.

The Pool

With a day in transit in Doha before heading to Dubai, I decided to seek out a bit of sun, choosing The Sharq Village & Spa as it offers pool day passes to non-hotel guests (QR350 on Fridays and Saturdays – about £60, QR200 the rest of the week – about £34). The pool area is gorgeous with both pools being special and unique in their own way. The larger of the two is a uniquely designed infinity pool, but the smaller of the two backs onto the beach and offers a striking bird’s-eye view of downtown Doha.

The Sharq - view from the pool with downtown Doha in the background

View from the pool with downtown Doha in the background

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Zheng He’s – Mina A’Salam, Dubai

Zheng He’s is a modern Chinese restaurant located in the Mina A’ Salam Hotel on Jumeirah Beach. The restaurant is gorgeous with its décor of dark woods and glowing red lanterns, and combines authentic traditional Oriental touches with a Western modernity. The restaurant opens out onto a terrace with outside tables that offers unsurpassed views of the Arabian Gulf and Burj al-Arab.

Dim sum trolley

Dim sum trolley

A team of Chinese chefs oversees a menu that offers a wide variety of starters and mains, as well as a choice of live seafood cooked to order. There is also a dim sum section, and of interest were the two items in the dim sum ‘gold collection’ which were prepared and steamed in front of your eyes. These included the wagyu beef, truffle, foie gras and abalone siew mai (3 pieces, AED88 – about £15) and lobster, scallop and prawn har kaw finished with beluga caviar and gilded with golf leaf (3 pieces, AED88 – £15). Both were delicious and succulently juicy. There was great theatre in having the dim sum made in front of your eyes (the standard options are prepared in the kitchen). Moreover, having the dim sum cooked à la minute gave it a freshness and moistness that is usually lacking from a usual dim sum service.

Wagyu beef siew mai

Wagyu beef siew mai

Lobster, scallop & prawn har kaw

Lobster, scallop & prawn har kaw

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Ronda Locatelli by Giorgio Locatelli, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

The Atlantis Resort on the famous man-made Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai evokes all of the sense of fantasy and adventure that has ever been written about the mystical island. The resort is truly extraordinary to look, and I must confess to being one of the ogling tourists who kept snapping away at it as I approached the hotel on the monorail. But security is tight and it’s difficult to wander around the resort. Therefore other than the exterior structure and the restaurant area there is little for non-hotel guests to see.

There are a number of dining options in Atlantis The Palm, one of which is Ronda Locatelli, the Dubai outpost of the famous London-based Michelin-starred Italian chef, Giorgio Locatelli. Unlike Locanda Locatelli, Ronda Locatelli steers away from the high-end fine-dining side of things to focus on something more casual. The centrepiece of the restaurant is a large round wood-fired brick pizza oven. It’s an arresting focal point for the restaurant that ensures a relaxed and uncontrived atmosphere, perfect for the many families which no doubt stay at the hotel. The Italian menu is traditional and rustic, with a strong emphasis on pizzas and pastas. But there’s also a good selection of starters, salads and mains with monthly promotional offers thrown in.

Ronda Locatelli

Ronda Locatelli

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Rhodes Twenty10 by Gary Rhodes, Dubai

Update on 12 November 2013: Chef Lee Adams has now left Rhodes Twenty10 to work with Gary Rhodes on his Grosvenor House venture.

With the closing of Rhodes 24 on 27 September 2013, the last of Gary Rhodes’s restaurants in London, the Michelin starred chef has officially said goodbye to London. It’s weird to think that after decades of him cooking in London that he no longer has a restaurant in the capital. But the chef continues to maintain a presence in the UK with his restaurant Rhodes at The Dome in Plymouth.

Rhodes’s sights are now set on the UAE with several outlets including the recently opened Rhodes 44 at the St Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi, Rhodes Twenty10 at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa Hotel and Rhodes in Residence at the Grosvenor House Hotel, both of which are in Dubai. And his recently closed Rhodes Mezzanine, also at the Grosvenor House Hotel Dubai, is due to reopen again in December 2013 after a full refurbishment.

Rhodes Twenty10 scores a ten out of ten for glamour and chic. It’s intimate and seductively dark, but also soft from the hints of lilac that run throughout the décor. Gosh the restaurant was gorgeous, and it’s a perfect fit for the equally glamorous looking Le Royal Meridien Hotel.

A steak and grillroom, Rhodes Twenty10 offers an extensive range of prime-cuts of meat and seafood. There’s also a smaller range of mains that include some tried and true British classics such as steak and kidney pie and fish and chips. But the more inventive part of the menu revolves around the starters, which were designed as sharing plates for the table (typically with four portions per order).

All the sharing plates we tried proved to be excellent, but our favourite was the mouthwatering sesame seared tuna (AED55 – about £9.30) served with honey mustard green beans, red onions and radish. Beautifully seared, the tuna was delicious, and the acidity running through the dish was light and well judged.

Seared tuna

Seared tuna

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Bateaux Dubai and JA Ocean View Hotel, Dubai

From Bahrain I headed to the eating, shopping, beaching and partying mecca that is Dubai. Hotels are plentiful here, and there is a hotel to suit every type of budget. I stayed at the four-star JA Ocean View Hotel, a family hotel with an eye-catching lobby and comfortable rooms decorated in seafaring blue. Each of the rooms are well-kitted and spacious with a balcony that looks out onto the beach (hence the name), although at the moment there is a fair bit of construction work taking place on the beach promenade which is currently scheduled to finish around October 2014. Facilities at the hotel include an outdoor pool, a spa and a gym, and being a family hotel, there are a number of children’s activities to help keep the little ones amused.

Sea View Room

Sea View Room

There are five restaurants at the hotel including the Brazilian churrascaria Fogo Vivo and Le Rivage, a beautifully decorated restaurant where the buffet breakfasts, buffet lunches and themed dinner nights are held. The standard of the breakfast is ok, but there is a good amount of choice to tickle every fancy. I was also interested to discover that Girders, the hotel’s British sports bar has a giant TV screen and runs ladies nights every Tuesday where ladies can drink free champagne between 8pm to 10pm and free cocktails thereafter until midnight.

Le Rivage

Le Rivage

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