Think Dubai is all skyscraper hotels and metallic decor? Think again. The brand new Jumeirah Al Naseem is bringing low-key chic to UAE
If the idea of dark evenings from now until January is making you want to retreat into a burrow, booking in a winter blast of Vitamin D could help take the edge off. Dubai might not be known for its ancient cultural hotspots – 50 years ago it was a quiet desert backwater – but among other things, consistently hot sunny weather is practically a given. Temperatures from May to September can hover around 40C, but from November onwards the humidity dips and temperatures drop to a more pleasant average of 25C.
Stay at… The Jumeirah Al Naseem
You might have seen pictures of the 7* Burj Al-Arab, Dubai’s famous sail-shaped hotel where the lavish gold and purple rooms cost around £900 a night. The style of its next-door neighbour The Jumeirah Al Naseem couldn’t be more different. While glass skyscraper hotels are a big feature of downtown Dubai, this brand new hotel – the Madinat Jumeirah Resort’s newest addition – is a broad, 5-storey complex modelled on the architectural style of ancient Arabia, with cream-painted walls, flat roofs and dark wood shutters.
The huge landscaped garden area leading down the hotel’s private beach – designed by architect Bill Bensley – is deliberately higgledy-piggledy, with little enclaves where you can chill out on a private cabana with a frozen cocktail or take a dip in one of the three swimming pools.
The hotel is between the Umm Suqeim and Al Sufouh areas of Western Dubai, just up the road from the huge man-made Palm Jumeirah. Just next to the hotel is the Wild Wadi Waterpark – handy if you’re visiting with kiddies – or the city centre is a 15-minute drive away on the city’s six-lane highway if you want to spend an afternoon in one of the massive shopping malls or go up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
No gold taps here. Bedrooms in the Al Naseem follow a tastefully neutral colour scheme (inspired by the Emirati desert) and the sliding, shuttered partitions allow you to control how open plan you want the room to be. Our standard-sized room featured a balcony with a view of the sea, spacious dressing area with hanging circular mirrors and a spacious, spa-style shower room. Also – the ultimate hotel room litmus test – there were powerful hair dryers.
You can’t really come to Dubai without going for one of the all-inclusive party brunches. Places popular on a Friday (the UAE’s Saturday) with ex-pats include Ramusake, Miss Lily’s and poolside at Zero Gravity, but if you don’t want to leave the resort then you can nip down to Jumeirah Al Qasr for champagne, Wagyu burgers and live music. The seafood at Rockfish, the hotel’s beachside restaurant, is excellent, with dishes like red snapper tagine and a delicious ahi tuna crudo served by ultra-friendly waiting staff. For more no frills (but equally delicious) seafood, try legendary locals favourite Bu Qtair just up the road, a cafe selling spicy fried whole fish, rice and flatbreads.
The overall vibe
Al Naseem translates to ‘a gentle sea breeze’ which sums up the relaxed vibe of the hotel perfectly. The clientele are a pretty smooth international mix, so though the atmosphere is laid back you might want to invest in a nice kaftan for lounging poolside.
Double rooms at the Jumeirah Al Naseem cost from AED 1500 in low season; and from AED 2300 in high season. Breakfast included. Please note that these rates are subject to 10% service charge and 10% municipality fees.