Dubai is the fashion hub of the East. So when Versace decided to drop its anchor in Dubai, people jumped with glee. This is the brand’s second venture. In 2005, Palazzo Versace became the world’s first fashion branded hotel when it opened in Australia’s Gold Coast. The address is popular with royals and celebrities – and Palazzo Versace Dubai is at heels with this reputation. You will know this is no mere claim, when you read along.
It took us 30 minutes to get to the Palazzo Versace, from home. The same distance it takes to go to Ikea, which is right opposite the hotel, in Dubai Festival City.
Another landmark is the curvaceous Garhoud Bridge that looks out to the Festival City on one side, and the hotel on the flip side. We didn’t cross the bridge, as we had to take an exit just before that. This stole our chances to see the hotel form the highway. But we didn’t despair; from the start of the exit, there are plenty of sign boards to make sure you won’t miss the hotel.
After a small round about, the hotel structure comes to peripheral vision.
As the road winds to the opposite direction, under the famed bridge, the Palazzo Versace comes in complete view. Evidently, they weren’t lying … it looked like a palace, indeed.
And from here on, the message is loud and clear – that this is Versace all the way.
The lobby is huge. Massive, in height and width. The sofas are upholstered with the vibrant hues of Versace – bold with more than a hint of gold.
The vast space also houses a piano at the heart of the tea lounge. Hard to say whether it was Steinway, probably not. The flooring is in conflict with the exuberance of the upholstery. The tiny mosaic tiles were hand-placed over 7-8 years. The tedious efforts, however, gets shadowed by the extravagant reds and golds.
As well as the colourful display of furnishing, the hotel is a treasure trove of Versace vanity. The interiors and furnishings in the rooms are designed by Donatella Versace, chief designer and vice president of the Versace Group. This would explain some of the ‘interesting’ designs you will come across.
We were welcomed with warm smiles and were checked-in without much ado.
As we strolled to the elevator, we took in more elements of design.
The walls are elegantly decorated with framed sketches of Versace, some of the brand’s iconic designs put up for fans and others to admire.
Our room was way down the hallway on the fourth floor … which was a purple catwalk in velvet.
The walls here were mounted with frames concealing Versace scarves.
Our Deluxe Versace Creek View Room was 421. On entering the room, for a few moments you may feel like you have been space-shuttled to Europe.
The ‘salmon’ shade used in our room, was pleasant and subtle; so much that it made my eyes droop just by staring at the sheets for too long.
That, added to silky texture of the bed cover will take much strength to keep grounded and not snuck into the bed as soon as you enter.
As promised, the view of the Dubai Creek, and the Garhoud Bridge at a short distance away is impressive.
After taking in the beautiful view, we relaxed with some traditional dates and TV (which, by the way, had the sleekest looking remote control I have ever seen).
After some incessant flipping and not finding a channel to stick with, I switched off the television and stared at the ceiling. The AC vents were designed in the geometric shape of Gianni Versace’s ancient Greek-inspired border. The hotel’s eye for detail is hard to miss.
In one look you might miss it, but on a closer inspection you will see the railing with the Greek block chain. Like I said, it is all in the detailing.
The room is also equipped with a fine technical system. Not wanting to move from my happy place, I was glad to have a touch screen monitor to control the lighting in the room, as well as draw the curtains.
The service at Palazzo Versace is unmatched and absolutely commendable. They are prompt, pleasant and helpful – a rare combination that the hotel can boast of. This little treat for our two-year old toddler was just the start of more pleasantries the members of staff shared with us.
The mini bar is well-stocked, and can be well-hidden if you wish so. That is one of the charms of the room. It doesn’t feel like a typical hotel room, but rather like an elaborate yet cosy bedroom. The drinks cabinet has doors if you wish to keep it concealed.
The bedroom is connected to the bathroom through a small alleyway which has the wardrobe on one side, and a mirror and stand on the other. Again, this is not visible when you walk into the room, but rather at a corner side, only visible from the bed. This is a smart design, attempting to keep the washroom shielded in privacy rather than open and bare.
The bathroom has a cosy tub. Overlooking this, on the wall, is the Versace medusa, designed using mosaic tiles. This idea is apparently borrowed from Gianni Versace’s home in Miami.
The sink is ordinary, nothing artsy or exclusive about it; which is nice as it gave a nice balance to the otherwise extravagant settings.
The bathroom is also equipped with a toilet and shower, built separately, facing each other. Clearly, privacy was pivotal here. Toiletries looked like mini Versace perfume bottles. Though, I was no fan of the scent to be honest.
The view from the hotel is also brilliant at night. Since our visit was at after the wrap of winter, the weather was perfect to enjoy the view from the balcony. This might not be all too pleasant in the next few months as summer sets in. Nonetheless, the view can be enjoyed from indoors.
The view early in the morning must not be missed. The serene and quiet of dawn, with the distant sounds of sea gulls is peaceful. You will be able to see how the city wakes up slowly, with sounds of activity on the hotel grounds, shouts from trainers and students in canoeing practice sessions, traffic picking up on the bride and flights landing and taking off.
The hotel has an infinity pool, as well as a guarded pool for children.
A sundeck looks out into the pool and the palm trees surrounding it.
We took a stroll around the property after breakfast. We dropped in to check out the gym and was impressed at how empty it was. Clearly, people enjoyed sleeping in or brunching on a Friday morning, we were no exceptions!
The hotel has a make-shift spa suite now while the main one is still under construction. The temporary suite is functional too, and consists of a treatment room, lounge area and access to a small pool outside.
I kept dining for the last, because there is much to talk about it. We dined at the hotel’s most exclusive address, Vanitas, its signature Italian restaurant. It is grand and luxuriously designed, with regal-looking furnishing and walls depicting landscapes, architecture and the essence of Italy.
The restaurant also has an outdoor seating with a view of the creek.
There is Versace everywhere. E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.
Inside my glass!
This is chef , the man who curated our dinner menu.
While I may have some reservations of some of his dishes, there were some noteworthy inclusions.
Like, a paste made from the chlorophyll of rocket leaves. Yes, the pigment involved with photosynthesis. And yes, even I have only read it in biology texts, but Palazzo Versace serves them. What a brilliant notion, and not to mention unique!
The salad was good, but not exquisite.
Vegetarians will have plenty of choice – PROVIDED they like leaves and pasta.
The first glance of this cheese risotto with parmesan cheese was not impressive, but the first bite was. And all the remaining bites until nothing but the yellow ornaments remained. It also had crispy wine leaves and honey as garnish – absolute smacker!
The chef even whipped up a quick treat for our son, breaded chicken with fries.
This is fish, which was slightly flavourless. Or perhaps it was a mental block imagining that the curled strings on the top is spaghetti cooked in squid ink. Clearly, it is edible. We learn something new every day.
Dessert was a pendulum ride. Good and bad.
The good – you can’t go wrong with chocolate.
The bad – you could go really wrong with citrus. Especially one garnished with caviar.
Breakfast was at Giardino. The garden, in Italian, and they are mighty serious about this reference. It is a blast of green! Like we entered inside a canvas of bright green leaves! What accentuated this venue though, is the use of light, space and plants. A refreshing experience.
The breakfast spread was extensive – it felt like taking a tour through a forest.
This moment will go down history. How often is it that you are sitting in a café and your favourite actor walks in and gives you a nod and smile? More importantly, what would you do? I froze. But luckily, I recovered and walked straight up to Mohanlal – one of the most coveted, talented, adored actors of the South Indian movie industry. I grew up watching his movies and growing as an ardent fan. And there he was. Of all the days in the year, of all the hotels in Dubai – right here in front of us, flesh and blood. My mother must be framing the picture I took with him as we speak. Giardino will always have a special place in my heart.
The hotel is apparently no stranger to the preferences of the rich and famous. Staff members told us how several well-known personalities and celebrities have stayed with them. And I believe them with not an iota of doubt!
The venue is also popular for its Friday brunch, offering a wider spread of delicacies and kitchen counters offering an array of culinary options like Indian, continental, Arabic, seafood, Chinese, and Italian. The Indian station was disappointing though as the food felt dry and tasteless.
For seafood lovers, there is a whole section.
A tropical garden stall offers fresh juice, and cocktails, while a cart of ice cream takes rounds amusing children and satiating the sweet tooth.
The dessert section was lip-smack again, and as I mentioned earlier, nothing can go wrong with chocolate. Here is the evidence.
The hotel’s soft opening has seen favourable business. The official opening is planned for later this year. Currently, only two of the five suites are open – the Grand and Executive suites. The ninth floor is also currently under construction, as is the Hip Hop themed Q’s Bar, a project by American music producer Quincy Jones. Other outlets include Enigma which is currently open only for dinner, La Vita bar, Gazebo for shisha and pool bar Amalfi. These, as well as the V Spa, marina in front of the hotel and the completion of the cultural village in its neighbourhood, Palazzo Versace is going to be Dubai’s most stylish district.
Where : Palazzo Versace Dubai
Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Phone : + 971 4 556 8888