It is location, more than brand loyalty or star-rating that matters when picking a hotel for a business trip. Being close to the conference, exhibition hall or office to attend meetings often takes precedence, especially for a short work trip.
For a prime business location, the Ritz-Carlton in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has both the city’s financial hub as well as the Dubai World Trade Centre on its doorstep.
But keen to shun its image as a business-only hotel, it also offers a high-end spa, seven restaurants and cafes and has another advantage to its location – its proximity to the Dubai Mall.
The 341-room hotel, which opened in 2010, comprises 38 club rooms, 80 suites and two royal suites, and is decorated in the signature style of the Ritz-Carlton brand – a modern take on French Imperial architecture. The effect is one of calming grandeur; the bustle of the DIFC becomes a distant whimper once inside the room.
Staying in one of the Dh1,970-a-night club suites, I had a spacious living area, with a guest bathroom, separate seating and dining area – all closed off from the bedroom if you decide to hold meetings in the suite. As well as a flat screen-TV, there is a large desk connected to several international plugs and stationary.
Internet is easily accessible via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable with speeds good enough for all tasks.
Any potential wardrobe mishaps are avoided with an iron and ironing board, sewing kit and shoe shine already supplied. And Asprey amenities in the bathroom aids those that have forgotten their toiletry bag.
Room service can be enjoyed at the living room’s four-seater glass dining table – a club sandwich sets you back Dh60 and steaks start at Dh320. Prices are on the higher side, but this, after all, is the Ritz.
For those on a tighter budget, club room and suite guests have access to the Club Lounge where light salads, meze, sandwiches and hotplates such as grilled chicken and shrimp, are available throughout the day. With high-speed Wi-Fi, international newspapers and plenty of seating, the Lounge proved an excellent spot for casual work.
What lets this hotel down is its proximity to its residential apartments. The rooftop pool is a messy affair with kids and nannies – not ideal for that downtime moment.
How fast was check in?
Those staying in Club rooms and suites can bypass the lobby and head straight to the Club Lounge for a speedier, more intimate check in experience.
Is there is a business centre?
Yes. Open 24-hours a day, it offers plenty of computers and workspaces and 75mbps internet. The hotel also has eight different meeting rooms for those after a more formal setting for meetings. Prices for rooms start at Dh500 per hour with additional costs incurred if you add on lunch or drinks.
And if I want to relax during my downtime?
There is a gym and the spa offers Dh285 express treatments – such as a cleanse facial or a back de-stressor massage – that you can fit in between meetings. There are two swimming pools – one indoors and the other on the roof, but best to avoid this one as it is shared with the residential guests too. Even a stroll through the property can be a rather cultural affair with displays of art loaned by the Opera Gallery.
What about dining options?
There are seven cafes and restaurants in the hotel. Cafe Belge does a set business lunch menu starting from Dh100. While the choice is limited, it is convenient for a quick business lunch.
Is it easy to get around Dubai?
There is usually a steady stream of taxis outside the lobby. The metro station is a short walk away and the hotel also has its own chauffeur driven cars.
* The writer was a guest of the hotel.