One of the best things I like about summer in the UAE: the slashed hotel prices! If you happen to be in the UAE this summer, and haven’t made a hotel booking yet, I suggest you must click on your dream weekend getaway and enjoy the half rates while they’re still available.
I have always stayed at The Traders Hotel, and silently admired the Shangri La Hotel on the further side of the beach as well as from my room view, I finally decided to save some cash and make it for the hotel. Decision was tough to make as I had to choose between taking my Mom and my sister. Noting that my sister wont be getting a break for a long time, we proceeded to make plans atleast 10 days in advance. With the onset of Ramadan timings, it was possible for me to check in on a Thursday afternoon, which otherwise would be impossible for a normal day.
I selected the Horizon Club room – Deluxe. Club Rooms have an attraction owing to their greater space, more amenities, complimentary drinks, snacks and canapes at the Club Lounge. The Shangri La ofcourse came with further luxuries of butler service, high tea, gourmet canapes and the privilege of a late check out.
I was emailed about my reservation confirmation a night before, to ensure that they had the right details for a speedy and efficient check-in service, including pick up transfer arrangements, valet parking, etc. I excitedly responded back and looked forward to the whole experience.
The day arrived and we desperately tried to get off work and rush to the hotel. We were 3 hours past our check in time, and therefore missed our high tea for the day. At 5:30, the valets promptly waited for our car, and we were cordially greeted. They were right about the express check in service – it took them barely 4 mins, and we were then shown to our room on the 6th Floor (this is an entirely non-smoking floor). The Receptionist was confident that our stay would be far better enjoyable than Traders Hotel. After a few minutes, we were greeted by our butler – Mr. Raman Chandel, who greeted us with complimentary date juice (non-alcoholic) and looked forward to seeing us for further refreshments at the Club.
Complimentary Date Juice
Since we were starving, we hurriedly freshened up, and re-dressed (we were requested in the email a day before that there was a dress code for the Club Lounge) and headed for the much awaited Horizon Club.
Canapes were being served gourmet style: salmon with caviar, petit-fours, mini-sandwiches, satay chicken on skewers, cut fresh fruits, pesto cherry tomatoes, as well as an assortment of breads and cheese condiments. Alcohol was available as well.
Horizon Club Lounge
[Due to the holy month of Ramadan, there were limited alcoholic beverages, and the doors of the Club remained closed until Iftar. The hotel fully respected the sentiments and traditions of its Muslim guests.]
Before heading for dinner, we caught some of the magnificent glimpses of sunset against the backdrop of the Grand Zayed Mosque. The colors of the sea were worth watching from our cozy balcony. I’m sure winter sunsets are an absolute paradise from the spot we were in.
Sunset @ Shangri La Hotel
We were entitled to 20% discounts on the hotel’s restaurants: I’m not sure if this was a summer special, or a Club Room special, but nevertheless it was a nice gesture. We dined at Hoi An Restaurant – Vietnamese cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed the dishes and quick service.
Some worthy features of the Hotel:
- 5 star service is for real – you will feel luxuriously pampered.
- Butler service is amazing.
- Sea view is breathtaking and spectacular.
- Buffet breakfast at the Sofra Boulevard Restaurant is a vast range of several enjoyable breakfast cuisines.
- Spa services at the Chi Spa is pure paradise.
- Late Check out upto 4 pm.
What to expect at the Horizon Club Room:
- Ample space, complimentary fruit and drinks on arrival
- Room turn down and make up services
- Amenities like coffee, tea, mineral water, bath products are constantly replenished.
- Butler service until midnight.
- Access to the Horizon Club until midnight, with high tea served between 3-5 pm daily, and gourmet canapes served between 7-9 pm with beverages.
- DVD Library, with choice of multiple DVDs (upon availability with the hotel).
- Balcony overlooking the sea view.
- Extensive Bathroom – with separate Bath tub, and rain shower areas.
- I-pod / I-phone charging dock.
My ever favorite: Cappuccino
What disappointed me the most:
Yes, I was disappointed! After staying at The Traders Hotel so frequently, I overestimated the features at Shangri-La, which considers itself 5 star. However, the faults have nothing to do with the service nor the staff:
- The furniture and decor were so classic: Old fashioned wood closets and designs made it look more of a castle or a museum. It definitely was in no comparison with the contemporary modern architecture of today.
- The whole hotel had a dim feature – dim light in the room, dim lights at the Club Lounge, and even dimmer lights at the restaurants and Lobby. I wasn’t expecting blaring tubelights, but these settings definitely gave it a gloomy look in comparison to the fresh brightness of Traders Hotel.
- The Club Lounge had a dress code: this surprised me actually, as I was used to the more casual Club Lounge at Traders Hotel where one could enter with their casual shorts, pick up a drink at any time, play board games with your kids. It was more formal here, and the decor again was too classic – high couches, heavy designed curtains that loomed the high windows, a tall wooden bookshelf with no interesting books in it, 2 silent television sets, and a no-child policy. This was a huge contrast, and my biggest disappointment.
- There was no circuit board for charging your gadgets at the executive desk, which should have been. So you were forced to charge your cell phone / laptop one at a time or at different plug points across the room.
TV Cabinet with DVD Player & Mini Fridge
On the whole I would recommend this hotel to classic enthusiasts, those looking for peace and silence in a 5 star way.
[Note: Iftaar & Suhoor meals were served at Horizon Club Lounge with the choice to deliver the same to your room]