Ceilings hand detailed in gold. Floors inlaid with marble mosaic. Statuesque interiors clad with prints unmistakably from one of the most glamorous design houses of our time.
Oh, yes. We could only be in the opulent world of Palazzo Versace Dubai, a luxury hotel fashioned as a 16th century Italian palace, with a subtle touch of Arabic influences…
Standing tall on the pristine waterfront of Dubai Creek, the imposing neoclassical structure is the world’s second Palazzo Versace (the first is in the Gold Coast).
Opened just recently in late 2015, it’s a project that’s taken close to eight years to complete. Ample time for Donatella Versace’s hand to have left an inimitable trace in the minutest of details, which feature Versace’s distinctive symbols from the Medusa head and Greek Key to the brand’s colourful prints and patterns, intermixed with Middle Eastern design elements. Think bespoke furnishings adorned with peacocks, falcons and horses…
The hotel houses eight restaurants, each of which boasts an al fresco terrace in the tradition of Italian palazzos. The venue for our lunch was at Vanitas, a classical setting exuding old world Italian glamour from every corner…
Taking advantage of the pleasant weather, we chose to sit outside looking out onto the clear blue lagoon pool and Dubai creek, nested in the cool shade of palm trees.
It was a perfect day for kicking back with lush strawberry mojitos (albeit of the virgin variety at lunch!), as we nibbled on fresh dips…
The authentic Italian menu at Vanitas has a pescetarian/ seafood focus – we were told that the produce is flown in from world over, with live aquarium tanks in the kitchens for the crab and lobsters sourced from Canada.
To our delight, we found that the restaurant does deliciously well by us vegetarians too.
Lunch began with a cloud of the perfect burrata fresh in from Putignano, in Italy’s Puglia region. So soft and creamy it was, that it practically melted with each heavenly bite.
A crisp insalata verde was simply yet beautifully prepared in a light tarragon dressing, with citrus fruits and a scattering of pine nuts on top.
Hearty Italian soups with warm, crusty ciabatta, were also spot on that breezy afternoon. Traditional pappa al pomodoro for my mother and aunt. And for me, an earthy zucchini soup swimming in rich, natural flavours.
#ThosePlatesThough. Can I add that we were quite a bit enamoured by the striking table ware?
Having sensed that desserts might be an extravagant affair, we shared a pasta for mains. Handmade tortellini delicately cocooning soft ricotta cheese and cherry tomatoes, strewn with basil homegrown in Vanitas’ own garden.
And then proceeded to be royally indulged. Rather than a menu, we were presented with the most enticing of dessert trays…
After a fair amount of deliberating, we settled on eclairs encasing salted caramel and the smoothest of tiramisu’s. The rich creaminess was sharply cut by the heady undertones of coffee and kahlua, while bittersweet coffee beans on top added another moreish dimension!
Later, lulled into that idyllic laid-back state, we wandered across the hotel – through the expansive lobby swathed in rich textiles – and were given a mini tour of the stately rooms, each soaked in a distinctive colour palette – blue, turquoise, salmon or gold. Let’s just say that I now definitely know where I’d like to be staying the next time I find myself in this dynamic city!
Luckily, we found ourselves back sooner than expected though, for cocktails followed by a multi-cuisine feast in another of the hotel’s restaurants. If you’re interested, you can have a read about the beautiful evening that was, here.
Palazzo Versace, Culture Village, Al Jadaf, Umm Hurair, Dubai
We were hosted by Palazzo Versace Dubai. As always though, I hog full credit for my opinions.