I will admit I am not a big fan of Dubai nowadays. I used to go about 10 years ago when it was a lot quieter but now I find it all a bit too busy and blingy most of the time. However, there was a great deal with Oman Air and I couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way over to Abu Dhabi, so I decided to stay on the Palm. This tends to be a bit quieter but still within reach of the city’s attractions.
I had previously stayed at the Fairmont the Palm when it had first opened and loved i,t so it seemed like a sensible choice.
If you are looking for bustling action The Palm is not the place to stay. It can take quite a while to get anywhere from the fronds of the Palm. Fortunately being only a short way up the main trunk, the Fairmont is easily accessible to some of the main attractions such as Wild Wadi, Atlantis, Burj Khalifa and Mall of the Emirates.
I arrived at the main reception and was escorted up to the Club lounge to check in and my luggage was taken care of. The lounge staff were always very friendly, courteous and helpful throughout my stay. I was given a welcome drink and the Club facilities and perks explained to me. I was then escorted to my room and the features of the room pointed out.
As had stayed before, albeit about 5 years previously, they had remembered and I received a special welcome back display on my bed! I thought this was pretty impressive. Throughout my stay I did feel very valued as a customer by the Gold lounge staff.
The room hadn’t really changed much since my previous visit but it still looked relatively fresh and modern. The bed was large and comfortable with high-quality bed linens. I found it very comfortable to sleep in and the hotel was quite apart from some noise from the building works on the beach.
There was a decent size balcony with views over the pools and beach. Unfortunately, it also looked over the building works! This was something I was a bit annoyed about as although it was noted on their website, it was a small note right at the bottom of the page which I hadn’t seen. It is now more prominent but don’t expect to get notified at all if you miss it. The buildings works were due to be finished by now but looking at recent reviews they appear to still be going on.
If you are interested in booking, I would suggest you check with the hotel first before you do so if you think it may annoy you. I know there were a couple of TLFL readers staying at the same time as me and the building works did not affect their enjoyment.
The bathroom was maybe beginning to look a little dated now but it was still impressive with a lovely large marble vanity unit and high quality Rose 31 toiletries.
There was a separate bath which was nice and deep for a good soak plus a large walk in shower.
The Gold level Club lounge was the highlight for me and represented excellent value given the ridiculously high prices of alcohol in Dubai and particularly elsewhere at the Fairmont. The staff were generally lovely and tried their best, but at times they were a little slow. When I was staying the hotel was very full which didn’t help matters. Drinks were generally brought to you but you could help yourself to soft drinks or go up to the bar at happy hour.
The lounge was very smart and it was never difficult to get a table even at happy hour when it was busy. I liked that you could also sit outside if you wanted, overlooking the sea.
The lounge included:
- Arabic and European breakfast, served daily from 6:30 am to 11:00 am. The breakfast had a good choice for a Club lounge and it was nice to see a bit of variety in the hot dishes each day. You could also order from the à la carte menu:
- Afternoon tea with scones, cakes and sandwiches which changed daily:
- Throughout the day coffee, tea and soft drinks
- Complimentary cocktail and canapés made with local delicacies served between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm
The cocktails were pretty good although they were extremely slow to make them, sometimes waiting around 15 minutes to get the drink. I soon switched to an easier choice of sparkling wine. The Singapore sling was excellent though! Here is the full drinks list:
The food in the evening was pretty much enough for a full meal. They had hot and cold canapes, salads, cheese and dessert. The hot food changed every night and they were quick to top up supplies when needed. Here is a selection of some of the food:
Pool and beach
The pool and beach had been one of the highlights on my previous visit. Unfortunately with the hoarding between the pool and the beach because of the building works it did not have the same appeal as before. Once the building work is finished it will again be a lovely spot. There are two pools – the main one which was the busier of the two, and the adult only pool. There is no chair service like some of the posher hotels in Dubai. You collect your towel when you arrive at the pool reception and a bottle of water and find your own chair.
The second pool was the one I used as it was quieter and adults only. Unfortunately, the building work did detract from the experience quite a bit with the dust and noise so close to where I was sitting. It is a lovely pool though with a large shallow area as you get in, perfect for lounging in the water when it’s very hot. There were also a couple of seating areas in the shade in the water which was nice to sit and read a book. The poolside service was pretty hit and miss.
I did enjoy the beach as it has lovely soft white sand and the water temperature was wonderfully warm like a bath. In fact, it felt warmer than the pool! It has a great view of the Dubai Marina skyline too.
Food and drink
I didn’t try any of the restaurants and bars as there was so much on offer in the Club lounge. The only thing I bought in the three nights I stayed was a room service dinner (excellent) and a beer by the pool (ridiculously expensive a £9 for a small beer). If you wanted to eat at the hotel there are a few choices:
- Little Miss India
- Flow Kitchen: All day dining
- Frevo: traditional Brazilian cuisine with churrascaria-style dining
- Seagrill Bistro: seafood overlooking the Arabian Gulf
- Delicacy: Hand-crafted pâtisserie and baked goods to take away
- Mashrabiya Lounge: light menu of Brit-inspired pastries and savouries complemented by a collection of teas from around the world
- The Cigar Room
- Ba Restaurant and Lounge: Modern Asian cuisine with Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean dishes
- Blowfish: Casual style American dining such as burgers, loaded hot dogs and milkshakes
Spa and facilities
The grounds are beautifully landscaped as you walk around and reflect the local style.
The Willow Stream spa was excellent and had the usual facilities inside such as a steam room, arctic room and sauna. The changing rooms were well equipped and there was a nice relaxation area with a choice of teas and snacks. Unfortunately, someone failed to realise that a relaxation area does not include Face Timing someone on speaker phone at full volume and I was annoyed that the staff didn’t tackle this since there was an attendant in the spa at all times. It was a shame as the spa was very quiet apart from this one intrusion!
The spa uses Kerstin Florian facial products and Aromatherapy Associates. The treatments and therapist were excellent though, so I would not hesitate to recommend a visit to the spa.
There was also a modern well-equipped gym, a range of water sports including paddle boarding, a kids club and fitness classes including aqua spin and yoga.
How I booked and how to get it cheaper
I booked using stacking several offers. Firstly, Fairmont twice a year have a deal where if you buy gift vouchers you can save around 18%. I used these gift vouchers to pay for my room. As the exchange rate had changed since I bought them I actually had an additional $50 credit for the room too. The second was an offer on the Fairmont website for a discount on Fairmont Gold (Club) rooms. Finally, you can also get cashback via either TopCashback or Quidco. This normally works out around 3-5% for Fairmont hotels (which come under Accor when searching for the discount). Note this won’t always work with promotions from the hotel, as if the promotion contains a discount code this can negate the cashback.
There is currently also a good promotion for Easter which I wrote about here.
This hotel was not in the league of the other 5* hotels I stayed in like the Park Hyatt or the Waldorf Astoria (review coming soon). However, it is much cheaper and I would say a high end 4* hotel equivalent. The Gold level is well worth the extra money unless you wouldn’t make use of the free alcoholic drinks. The building works and busyness of the hotel made quite an impact as part of the pool are was unusable due to the works. In the end, I actually checked out a day early as the dust was affecting my health. I have to say I was very impressed by how they dealt with this. They offered to move my room further away from the building site and then when I explained it was everywhere they offered a full refund for the last night which they did not have to do. I really couldn’t fault the service at all.
So would I go back ?- in terms of location and value for money with the lounge, then yes. My main issue was the cost of drinks outside the lounge. They were actually far higher than the two more expensive hotels I had stayed in, which I thought was very cheeky!
You can find the latest rates and more information on the Fairmont the Palm here.