Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand Park Lane, London
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Royal Air Maroc Business Class Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Q400 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A330 “First” Class DOH-MCT
Oman Air Business Class Lounge, MCT
Oman Air E175 Business Class MCT-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Vistara A320 Business Class BLR-DEL
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class DEL-HKG
W Hong Kong
Touring Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN
We will now pivot very quickly from the very worst to the very best. There’s little doubt in my mind that the Grosvenor House, though I can’t pronounce the name nor spell it properly, is one of the best properties in the Starwood chain. The property became part of the Starwood Luxury Collection in early 2010, and added a second tower to the existing one in late 2011.
The location might be a bit far South, but it’s near major attractions like the Mall of the Emirates (the Dubai Mall, which I personally prefer, is a bit further up North closer to the airport) and the Atlantis resort. It’s called the Marina area, and it’s maybe 30 minutes to the airport depending on traffic.
I’d heard great things about the property but always found the price too prohibitive. Normally this hotel retails well upwards of US$250, even 300+. But during summer, it’s a different story. As the heat blazes down on Dubai, tourists stay away and locals flee, so hotels cut their rates to try and drive some business. That’s how I got a rather excellent US$155 rate for two nights.
My taxi pulled up to the entrance of Grosvenor House and I wasn’t sure which tower I should check in at. One thing the property can do a lot better is directing guests who have just arrived to the check in area- it’s unlikely they’ll know ex-ante which room they’ve been assigned.
I went to the older Tower One first, where the entrance is split over two levels. On the first floor you have the concierge and bag storage area.
Up from that you have the main lobby. Nothing says you’re in the UAE like a golden jewel encrusted falcon.
The lobby, as you’d expect in Dubai, is lavishly decorated. Think high marble pillars, ornate paintings, vanity artwork.
You’ll be happy to know that both Towers are connected via an air conditioned walkway (in 45 degree summer heat, you really don’t want to be exposed to the sun more than you have to) that bridges both sides.
The first thing to know about this property is that there are two towers. Tower 1 is the older one, as you might expect. There are many types of rooms here and with two towers it can get pretty confusing, so I’ll try to explain this best I can. Feel free to chip in if you’ve stayed here before too.
These are the main room types:
- Deluxe and Superior Deluxe Rooms- Tower 1
- Premier Rooms- Tower 2
- Premier Junior Suites- Tower 2
- Deluxe Suites- Tower 1
- Premier Suites and Executive Premier Suites- Tower 2
- Apartment Suites- Tower 1
- Residence Apartments- Tower 2
- Grosvenor Suites- Tower 2
- Royal Suites- Tower 2
I was assigned a Deluxe Suite on the 36th floor of Tower One. I got two separate cards- the first for my room, and the second for the club lounge called Level 5, that was located in the other tower. This was easily one of the best club lounges ever, and I’ll cover it in detail later on.
The dramatis personae of Tower One
I got out on the 36th floor (total 44 floors in this tower) and realised the hallways were impeccably quiet. The carpet and the walls absorbed all footsteps, which was great for light sleepers like me.
You tap your keycard not on the door, but on the small dark panel by the side of the door.
Here’s the overview of the room. This is a very accurate floor map of the Deluxe Suite I’d been given. I want to point out several features before we visit them in detail- the guest bathroom, the kitchenette, the living room, the master bedroom and toilet. The main entrance to the room is that door you see on the upper right.
It’s always a good sign when your room is large enough to warrant a guest toilet, which is exactly what I saw upon entering the room.
Past that and the room divides into two sections- the entrance to the master bedroom on the left and the living room on the right.
The room really opens up when you get into the living room. There’s a spacious couch set and the windows open out to the Dubai Marina.
On the table was a welcome amenity of fruit. This was slightly disappointing as I thought a hotel of this stature would go for something like wine.
There was a small dining area outside the kitchenette.
The kitchenette didn’t have a stove or microwave, but there was a sink. I’m not quite sure what it was for, other than to give me more countertop space for charging stuff.
A very large work desk rounded out the living room.
There was a very nicely monographed stationery kit
Which inside had a stapler set, sticky notes and a writing pad.
The master bed room had a King sized bed with the usual bedfront couch. I’ve often wondered what it’s for. I typically use it to sit when I put on my shoes. I hope I’m not using it wrong, like I did for years by using the bidet to wash my feet.
I loved small details like how the bedsheets had GH etched onto them ever so slightly.
The TV had a DVD player (who still uses those?) and digital radio.
The air conditioning controls were on the bedside, and you could control the curtains and DND sign from this panel too.
The bathroom is yet another highlight of the room. Nice sunken tub, plenty of towels (the luxury of staying in a hotel, I’m sure, comes in being able to use multiple towels to bathe. Gaia who?)
In addition to the tub you also have a large shower.
Toilet and bidet.
The marble countertop had a single sink (given the size of the room I thought they’d have put in two) and two bottles of mineral water.
Attention to detail again- the towels have GH embossed on them.
Essentials like toothbrushes, shower caps and cotton balls were provided as default. I much prefer this arrangement over what other hotels have done to cut costs by making these items available “on request” only.
The best thing about the loo? The abundant Bulgari amenities that were of the highest quality. There was bath soap and a bath teabag (yes, such things exist)
Shampoo, conditioner and body wash which were replenished daily.
As were the large soap bars in the master bedroom loo and the guest toilet.
The room had a fully-loaded minibar with easily the biggest selection I’ve seen in any hotel (except perhaps the W Seoul)
The minibar also had a whole set of drinking glasses in case you did BYOB.
Here’s a few excerpts of the room service menu so you have an idea of what prices you’re dealing with (1 AED= 0.37 SGD)
I thought about having a celebratory tipple, but was shocked to see alcohol prices this high. AED 148 (S$55) for a glass of champagne?
I mentioned the club lounge previously and I think it could deserve a separate post for itself, but to summarize I believe it’s one of the best club lounges to be found at any Starwood property.
On the first day I arrived I did Happy Hour at the lounge, where they set up a very elaborate variety of small bites.
They also serve sparkling wine. Yes it’s not champagne, and it’s not expensive, but it’s good.
Here’ s a brief rundown of the small plates on offer during happy hour.
Rice noodles with corn and sausage
Tuna salad shooters.
The two hot items were both fried, which is great if you’re not on a diet.
There’s also a bread selection if you really need carbs.
The lounge has a few working stations and a high speed printer.
It also has a meeting room that you can book for complimentary use if you’re staying in a room with lounge access.
The lounge is really big, taking up about half the floor. I never noticed it crowded, not even during the breakfast peak hour rush.
Speaking of breakfast, here’s the breakfast spread in the lounge.
The first station is all about cereals, muesli, jams, ketchup, nutella and other spreads.
And with all those spreads, you need some bread.
Off topic, but I loved the way the butter was presented. It was given in little tubes that you unrolled, kind of like sweets. Sweets that give heart attacks.
Selection of fruit salad and cut fruits
Numerous hot items
And the pork corner. The UAE isn’t as strict as some other gulf countries about pork, but it has to be clearly labelled at all times.
Smoked salmon and other cold cuts
I really think that hash browns are one of those foods that don’t hold up well in a buffet, because most of the time they end up getting soggy. I asked the staff to help me make a fresh batch and the answer, as you would expect in any excellent hotel, was “certainly Sir”. Believe me, I have been to hotels (ahem Westin Singapore) where such tasks were either met with a “no cannot” or with the alacrity of a man who is about to have teeth pulled.
I didn’t explore the other restaurants on premises because I was hankering for a good steak. And one of the best steak restaurants in Dubai is Rhodes Twenty10, located over in the Le Royal Meridien. This is the sister property of the GH, and there’s a free shuttle bus that runs between the two properties which are about 5 minutes away by bus (don’t brave the heat, even in the evenings, trust me)
The menu is extensive but of course you come here for the steak. The ribeye steak (why would anyone want any other cut?) was incredible. Perfect medium rare, great sear, tender insides, marbled fat.
Less impressive was the asparagus, which wasn’t seasoned at all (and cost AED30) for 3 spears.
I didn’t order desert, but a chocolate slice and a macron found their way to me with the bill.
If you’re an SPG Platinum member you can also take your breakfast at Sloane’s, the buffet restaurant in the lobby. The selection here is massive, much bigger than that in the lounge. But you can’t beat the peace and quiet of the lounge.
The photos of the food should speak for themselves so I’m going to dump them here.
The staff in the hotel were excellent, especially in the executive lounge. The concierge hassled Oman Air repeatedly until my bag was returned to me, 30 hours after it went missing. When Oman Air misreported the time the bag was returned, they offered to back up my account with CCTV footage if needed. However, they did back off once they saw that the flight ticket was associated with Qatar Airways (in that the e-ticket said the WY flight was a connecting flight from QR). Even though QR didn’t operate the flight, they said they simply couldn’t issue any sort of official letter in relation with something even tangentially related with Qatar because they’d get in trouble with the police…which sort of goes to show you the insanity of what’s going on in the region now where Qatar has become a he-who-must-not-be-named situation.
If you’re heading to Dubai, I hope you have a chance to experience this great property.