Le Royal Meridian Beach Resort & Spa

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  • Dubai might be awash with five-star resorts, but Le Royal remains one of the best

    A two-night break in Dubai sounded like the perfect stop-off on the way home from Sri Lanka. A little five-star luxury after two weeks backpacking, two short flights instead of one long one…

    The best-laid plans, of course, never quite work out that way.

    So, without going into the dull, tiresome details, our quick nip over to Dubai ended up being a long, delayed trek, which circumnavigated a large proportion of Middle East airspace and the tarmac at Kuwait’s airport, before touching down at close on midnight.

    Tired, crotchety and fairly sure we’d have missed our hotel transfer, we made our way off the plane and, bang, straight into the smiling arms of Le Royal Meridian’s designer-clad meet-and-greet man. Yep, these guys are so favoured they get to you before security and baggage claim – even when you’re six hours late.

    Delivered gratefully into the soft leather cradle of a BMW Series 7 limo (clearly I’ve just had to call my boyfriend to check that, I just thought it was the nicest car I’d ever been in), we were then whisked off to Le Royal without a moment’s fuss, so beginning 24 hours of the ultimate in indulgent pampering.

    The check-in? Exemplary. (‘Would you like champagne or freshly squeezed orange juice while we check your details, madam?’) The room? Contemporary, with something of an Arabian twist. The view? Stunning. The swimming pools? Numerous (including five indoor heated hamman baths). And then there was the food…

    Le Royal has so many different restaurants it employs two staff on permanent standby simply to man the dining desk, where guests can browse a myriad of different menus and get advice on individual preferences. There’s Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Thai… and that’s not even taking into account the selection just over the road at sister hotel The Grosvenor, where chefs like Gary Rhodes have helped create luxury dining experiences for the more business-orientated guests attracted to its up-to-the-minute, slick surroundings.

    After what took literally 20 minutes, we plumped for Persian restaurant Al Murjan in the grounds of the hotel, and then promptly changed our choice to seafood restaurant Mi Vida when the next person in line started raving about his experience there the night before.

    The change of heart paid off. With every fish you can imagine, and a few more thrown in for good measure, laid out on an iced slab, along with lobsters bobbing merrily in tanks behind, we were invited to choose our raw fish and then have it cooked how we wanted, with what we wanted.

    I could fill pages with the deliciousness of our choices, suffice to say they required an hour’s walk along the beach the next morning simply to make room for the massive breakfast spread.

    There are hundreds of luxury hotels you could choose from in Dubai, all of them offering immaculate service at often very competitive prices. The staff at Le Royal Meridian, and their many return guests, will admit it isn’t the most beautiful hotel from the outside, however, thanks to the wondrous food, it’s found a fabulous way to stand out from the crowd.

    Details: Le Royal Meridian Beach Resort & Spa, Sheikh Zayed Road, PO Box 24970, Dubai, UAE (971 (4) 399 5555, www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien)

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