Desert Palm, Dubai was all that we had expected and more. At first glance, the name suggests a desert hotel in an oasis. However, a little bit of research fast put our misconceptions to rest. 160 acre estate with just 38 rooms in Dubai seems a lot to take in until you add in 6 Polo Grounds, 2 stables, a couple of riding schools and private villas to the list. The rooms were gorgeous, the décor tasteful and service impeccable. However as with most hotels we stay at, it calls out to a particular kind of guests and is probably not for everyone.
Desert Palm, Dubai till very recently was part of the Per Aquum group. One of the finest boutique hotels in Dubai, it holds its own with its unique offering of an equestrian theme. The theme is ubiquitous yet subtle giving it a classy feel. It was quite easy for us to draw parallels to Mihirgarh in Rajasthan, India which has a similar equestrian theme but the similarities end there. The hotel is modern, stylish and relaxed. Situated away from the hustle bustle of the downtown area, it is not meant to be a night pitstop kind of a hotel or even a great views hotel. Though there’s a complementary drop service to the Dubai Mall every day, during our stay we were the only ones who took advantage of it, as this hotel is a haven for guests wanting some R&R.
Our Polo suite was huge by any standards. We had a balcony opening to the main polo field, a free standing tub in our room, a huge king sized bed and a sitting area with a huge window opening out to the Polo fields. The designer REN toiletries were top class and the toilets big enough to feature a bidet, the first we had seen in any hotel we’ve stayed at. Safe to say, it was quite lavish and met all our expectations. The swimming pool was a hop and skip away from the room, both from the balcony side and the main entrance, however we found the open sit-out area which we’ve referred to as the balcony to be too publicly accessible for our taste. On more than a couple of mornings where we were enjoying our coffee, we encountered other guests and staff around us, which was a bit uncomfortable as we love our privacy. That said, it poses no security risk and it’s totally our opinion as someone who loves their privacy.
There are two main restaurants in the hotel premises – Rare & Epicure. Both the restaurants have stunning interiors and while epicure looks out to the swimming pool, RARE with its al fresco option looks out to the Polo field. On a match day, it’s an easy guess which one would be overbooked. RARE boasts of a huge Wine menu, one of the largest in Dubai we’ve been told, an open kitchen and a fabulous location but unfortunately, as indicated by its name, it’s a meat lover’s haven and not one to be recommended for vegetarians & Teetotallers like us. Although the chef was kind enough to whip up some great salads for us, it was easy to see how they were fast running out of options to suggest to us. The service however was fantastic, although it helped that we were the only guests occupying a table during the time. Epicure, it’s all day dining restaurant has a very different décor to RARE and gives out a more designer feel with sharp tones, vintage fans and quirky décor. Full marks to whoever designed it as we couldn’t quite stop clicking pics of it. It also has an outdoor sitting area beside the pool but it was mostly occupied by the other guests, especially families with kids who had probably spent the entire day in and out of the pool. The food at epicure did provide more options than RARE but surprisingly the service was also quite slow. We had to call out and reminder the staff multiple times for our order but that could easily have been our empty stomach distorting the time to make it look longer. We generally love to see kids playing and doing their own thing while travelling however it was kind of uncomfortable to have them running around beside our table bumping onto our chairs a few times as they raced each other to some imaginary finish line. We didn’t want to call out the staff for something so trivial but we would have expected the staff to atleast bring it to the attention of the parents who were enjoying their meal outside by the pool. The food however was well presented and fresh and quite enjoyable.
The LIME spa at the hotel was so good it merits its own small paragraph. The spa does not have a separate entrance and is accessible through the main reception area. Although walk-in appointments are possible, they’re not encourages as they’re mostly fully packed especially during peak season. Once you enter, you’re given a questionnaire to fill and also options for the oil you wish to use. We had opted for a couple spa so we were together in a room. The music was really pleasant and though we’re unsure whether it was intentional or otherwise, there was Carnatic (Indian Classical) music playing which was very relaxing. Once done changing we were offered a lime sorbet and then led to our respective tables. Though we’re not frequent enough to be called spa connoisseurs, we were mightily impressed by the experience, enough to maybe rate it as one of the best we’ve enjoyed. Full marks to the staff and our Masseuse.
The service, as we’ve mentioned several times, was spot-on for the most parts. We forget the name of the person who was with us for the entirety of the trip, right from taking our baggage to our room to driving us around the property in the buggy to driving us to the Dubai Mall, but we can’t help but remember him for his willingness to go beyond what was expected. The only weak link we found, as mentioned, was with the service at epicure and even that was relative to the high standards we had been exposed to already. The staff were always polite, smiling and happy to help.
We had gone to Desert Palm at the end of our trip with high expectations from the hotel and high benchmarks set throughout our trip. However we are happy to say that it did not disappoint and provided a fitting end to our already amazing trip. We didn’t try the horse riding activities of the in campus riding school and only barely managed to make it for the polo match on our last day at the hotel. Our understanding of the hotel was simple, it is not an ideal place to stay at if you’re looking to explore the glitz of Dubai. However if you’ve visited the city before and are done with all the sightseeing and are in the mood for enjoying the hotel and its amenities, this is the perfect hotel for you. It is definitely one of the best boutique hotels we’ve stayed at when it comes to R&R.
- Desert Palm, Dubai is roughly 30 minutes from Dubai mall and 20 minutes from Dubai Airport.
- The best time to visit would be post October till May when the temperature dip slightly and is pleasant enough to venture outside.
- Desert Palm is great for couples looking for some R&R.
- Given our love for horses, we cannot recommend it enough. But even if you don’t, with wide open space, greenery all around and a wonderful pool to lounge in, you cannot go wrong. You can book your rooms at desertpalm.ae
We were guests of Desert Palm but as always our opinions and experiences are unbiased, untarnished and entirely our own!