PARK HYATT DUBAI
Understated luxury in the desert heat.
A return to a hotel that holds great memories is always approached with the slightest trepidation - will it live up to the last stay? Will this time be as enjoyable? I was delighted to find the rooms as beautiful as I remembered in the typical minimalist Park Hyatt way, with just a touch of the exotic (we are in the Middle East, after all). Our welcome was warm with champagne, an assortment of snacks and a chocolate birthday cake waiting for Jarv that we all but devoured in the day and a half we were there. One aspect that left me slightly disappointed was the pool - I had fond memories of falling asleep as the sky turned to night with nothing but the sound of chirping birds in the trees, however this time we found the pool was where the party was at - pop music blared out of speakers and more than 70% of the loungers were occupied. It just wasn't the quiet oasis I remembered. Perhaps it was simply the time of the year, or perhaps there is something to be said for trying something new each time.
DRINKS AT BURJ KHALIFA
122 floors high with sweeping views over Dubai.
Having just rambled on about not going back to the same place twice, I'm now going to directly contradict myself and say that going back to At.Mosphere at the Burj Khalifa was definitely worth doing. Forget buying tickets to cram in with other tourists on the viewing platform when you can instead enjoy expertly made cocktails with just as awesome a view. Here, Jarv was presented with his second birthday cake of the day (second, but not last. We feasted like animals on our day and a half in Dubai) before we headed back downstairs to the Armani hotel for dinner.
DINNER AT AMAL, ARMANI HOTEL
A modern Indian restaurant set in the Armani hotel, inside the iconic Burj Khalifa.
At Amal, the food is immaculately presented, refined and bursting with flavour. For people who have the idea that Indian food is all heavy curries and takeaway food, put that thought out of your mind. It can be delicate, elegant, fragrant; Amal is an excellent example of that, as well as having some of the best service I have ever encountered in a restaurant (both times - yes, it lived up to expectations the second time around!). Cue Jarv's third birthday cake of the day.
BRUNCH AT TRAITEUR, PARK HYATT
A must-do, especially if you're already staying at the Park Hyatt.
Friday brunch is huge in Dubai. It's a big deal. And at Traiteur, they've got it all. An entire salt-baked salmon, more cheeses than I can name, foie gras brulee, as much lobster as you can eat, prawns, steak, duck, sushi, lamb, sausages, bread, Iberico ham, an entire dessert room...I could go on. For the set price of 495 AED per person (about £100), you dine until you can eat no more. Then pause for half an hour and continue onto dessert. You will leave full, satisfied and wanting for nothing. My tactic - seafood, seafood, seafood, slice of meat, seafood, seafood, seafood, dessert.
A short stay on our way to Abu Dhabi wound up consisting entirely of re-visiting previously enjoyed hotels and restaurants. Moral of the story - while few places will live up to your first time experiencing them (I can name all the ones that have on one hand), it's still just as much fun to try. Doing things a second time around can mean enjoying aspects you hadn't noticed or tried before, or simply feeling like more of a local in a city away from home.