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Short stay: Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf at the Madinat, Dubai

Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf, the summer-houses, is where Arabian Nights living coalesces with Venetian canal-style. East meets West, Arabia greets Europe in perfect harmony in Jumeirah’s contemporary take on a traditional Arabian citadel. This is an opulent 5 star luxury leading on to a white-sand private beach on the shores of the warm Gulf of Arabia: part of Madinat Jumeirah resort. Inspired by the principles of Arabic architecture, Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf consists of 29 low-rise summer houses featuring cooling cross-timbered wind towers, private sitting rooms and peaceful inner courtyards. In total there are 283 rooms or suites. Trickling fountains, shaded arches and lush planting fulfil the vision of the promised land. Vistas longed for by Bedouins who survived parched desert-living for centuries. Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf is one of four hotels that make up Jumeirah’s 42 hectare Madinat resort as it relaxes along the Gulf shoreline. Venetian style canals and thousands of palm trees peacefully buffer guests from the frantic chaos that is Dubai. Only the muezzin’s call to prayer and bird song drift on the warm breeze through to the solace of your tranquil and intimate summer house. The welcome Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf shares an entrance with the Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel. A stately driveway ascends through immaculate emerald lawns where sculptures of golden horses prance. This vast palace, fit for a Sheikh, is the grandeur Louis XlV could have aspired to at Versailles – if he had the benefit of a decent budget. Jumeirah have eradicated those officious words “check-in” from the English language. As I was immediately greeted by name, one of the reception committee with Sherlock Holmes’ perception must have checked on my luggage label. My case was whisked away, chilled lemon juice with mint provided and a seat on a plush sofa offered. A buggy took me to a summer house where I was introduced to my butler and within minutes two staff were showing me around my room. The rooms My Arabian summerhouse deluxe room, at 650 square metres, was more spacious than what passes for a suite at many hotels. A large balcony, with sturdy whicker chairs and table, idyllically looked out over a canal, passing abras and onto the Madinat’s Souk. The style is distinctly Arabian palatial with neutral paint, tones of ochre, tasselled ceiling hanging, mosaic floor tiles and Aladdin-lamp style lighting. Desert distressed timbered doors subtly tone down the opulence. Yet there are many nods to the high-tech 21st century: a huge LG screen, coffee-maker and extensive mini-bar. A discrete electronic control panel, on either side of the bed gives you control over lighting, air-conditioning and a signalling system to either invite or reject house-keeping services. Don’t reject them, they deliver chocolate. The bathroom It’s more than a vast marble bathroom with acres of mirrors. There is a separate shower room, loo and dressing area. A huge oval, free-standing bath takes pride of place: its big and deep so allow time for it to fill. All the delectable toiletries are from the Omani Fragrance house Amouage, they are generously restocked by the turn down service. The facilities It is an endless list … the Madinat Souk has numerous shops … tennis …. sunrise yoga on the beach …swimming pools including one that’s adults only … beach butler service … the Talise Spa … a theatre …concierge to book your excursions … pool tables by the beach …a secret garden massage … paddle boards and kayaks …Sinbad’s Kids Club …Hair and Beauty saloon … beach volleyball … free entry to the Wild Wadi waterpark… and a cavernous 24 hour fitness facility. The restaurants Rarely do you take a boat to breakfast but call for an abra to transport you to The Arboretum restaurant in the Al Qasr Hotel. Its towering palm tree columns and palm-motif-frieze host an international buffet breakfast on an epic scale. Alongside the egg and (chicken) bacon there’s a full Arabic breakfast buffet of breads, halloumi, humus, labneh and olives etc. etc plus world class patisserie. Alternatively you can opt for the Khaymat al Bahar overlooking the beach with similar extensive choices. There are over fifty restaurants at the Madinat and they get busy at dinner time so it’s best to book. Pick your chosen cuisine and then order an abra to take you there. Remember that Thursday night is Friday night in Dubai and The Hide’s BBQ, at the Al Qasr, is one of the places to be. All-American chef, James Niessen, puts on a meat feast with some forgotten cuts of steak such as flank or flat-iron. But BBQ chicken and salmon options are available too. It’s the night to let your hair down with a Lynchburg Lemonade created in Jack Daniels’ whisky’s home-town before getting the salad chef to create your starter: the steak tartare salad is highly recommended. Go easy on the steaks. Of course there’s apple pie, cheesecake, deconstructed lemon meringue pie, mini donuts, molten chocolate tartlets and an ice-cream machine and much more to follow. Other nice touches If you eat al fresco there’s a falconer, with hooded peregrine falcon on hand to scare away scavenging birds. A sturdy Jumeirah bag with sealed pouch for your room key is a well-designed accessory to take to the beach. Cost Prices begin from around £350 in low season. The best bit Each villa has its own butler. He or she will book abras or buggies to transport you around the resort and at precisely 6.00 pm they will open the drinks cabinet for two happy hours. It is a great opportunity to socialise with the other guests and get their take on what to do in Dubai. The final verdict “The service is incredible, the staff will do anything for you,” said one highly satisfied American visitor. Adapting to normal life without a butler, without a choice of fifty restaurants and without an abra to take me to the gym has been a challenge. Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. A butler must be the height of luxury. Dubai can be a bit brash and in your face, this place has to be the perfect escape. I could just cope with 25 C in December.

  2. I’ve been to the Madinat to browse around the shops and to enjoy some brilliant meals at some of the restaurants. I love Dubai and the Dar al Masyaf looks the perfect choice. Hopefully next time.

  3. Competition amongst hotels in Dubai is intense which is great for visitors, the competition just keeps on pushing up the service standards. There is plenty of choice but Dar al Masyaf has access to a well-cared for private beach which is a notch-up from Dubai’s crowded public beaches. Having easy access to the Madinat and all it’s facilities is brilliant, it even has a theatre and at this time of year it’s panto season. Oh, yes it is.

  4. As expected of anything in Dubai nowadays. Everything is about luxury and superlative service. You can’t hope to find anything less than lavish with the competitive market. You to offer something unique and I must say Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf is doing real well.

  5. I’ve stayed in a few Jumeirah Hotels. It’s the old thing of knowing what you are getting. When you are on the road you want somewhere you can trust. I like the Arabic decor in Arabia but it is a bit heavy and glitzy elsewhere in the world. Horses for courses or maybe camels for courses!

    Although I’d agree with this review on the welcome. Jumeirah try hard not to be too officious with check-in. The last thing you want after a long journey is a long form to fill-in. They are getting it right with a drink and sometimes a chilled flannel. That’s an Arabic tradition which needs to spread globally as far as I am concerned.

  6. 29 summer houses and 283 rooms, that’s very impressive! It looks stunning, I’ve never seen anywhere like this before. The decor gives that luxury but classic chic appeal with an earthy edge, so I imagine it being quite warm and homely. Until you get into the bathroom, which is very modern and absolutely gorgeous for a bathroom! I think I could get far too used to staying in a place like this.

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