After a whirlwind of a week enjoying the good life of Dubai, it’s finally and sadly time to wrap up this particular chapter of my travel diaries.
Somehow, I managed to leave with a much longer wish list than I had when I arrived – unsurprising I suppose of this dynamic city which breaks new ground with each exciting development, whether cultural, social or lifestyle-related.
Needless to say that I’m already planning my next visit (at this rate, my dear auntie who lives there runs the very real risk of having me permanently move in with her!). And until then, I have some rather marvellous memories to look back on…
Memories at Madinat Jumeirah
For one, I got to experience Dubai’s famous Friday extravaganza at the sumptuous Jumeirah Al Qasr – a hotel which may just be the Holy Grail of the sacred institution that is weekend brunch! From fresh Thai coconuts to an eclectic culinary feast that rounded off with some very Instagrammable desserts…the afternoon was the stuff of a foodie’s dreams.
I found myself returning to the Madinat Jumeirah several times thereafter – it’s a resort complex so expansive, that it has it’s own souk (market-place), housing one of Dubai’s best kept secrets… the aptly titled fine-dining Italian establishment, Segreto!
I was invited to the launch party of the restaurant’s rooftop terrace, looking out onto the ethereal waterways and summerhouses of the resort… It was a beautiful evening that flew by under the starry skies, as we sipped Italian aperol cocktails and nibbled on delicate cicchetti – Venetian-style tapas, that will be the focal point of the new menu here. This spot is truly a hidden gem, that’s carved out a bit of Venice in the heart of Dubai!
As though the evening couldn’t get any better, mother and I may have made it into Time Out Dubai’s coverage of the event too.
I also had the chance to explore the resort’s mysterious waterways by an ‘abra’ (small boat) on my last evening in Dubai – which could not have started off on a more radiant note than it did, over a sunset yoga session on the Madinat beach, led by Jumeirah Al Qasr’ yogi master!
With a view of the stunning Burj al Arab on one side, and the sun slowly going down against the pier on the other, the whole setting was simply magical… And very inspiring of an #EatPrayLove sort of sentiment!
Another hotel which I just couldn’t seem to stay away from, was the very glamorous Palazzo Versace – an imposing structure built in the fashion of a 16th century Italian palace and designed by Donatella Versace herself!
Not only did we enjoy an idyllic Italian lunch outdoors at Vanitas (the burrata was among the best I’ve ever had)…
But we also discovered a new spin on classic cocktails at La Vita (a watering hole inspired by the most famous English bars over the years), followed by a dinner spanning several continents, over at Giardino – the all day international restaurant at the hotel!
Tea at the Taj
Mother and I were also royally indulged with the Ruinart champagne afternoon tea at the Taj hotel, in downtown Dubai. The Taj group is one of my favourite names in hospitality, not least for its friendly yet faultless, absolutely impeccable service – and our visit to the Taj Dubai was no exception, with the kitchen readily whipping up veggie alternatives to make sure that there were enough savouries to complement the smattering of sweet treats! We loved the stylish yet elegant Byzantium Lounge too, with its gold and black peacock lacquer panels and subtle art deco details.
Pisco sours, Peruvian delights & a formidable coconut and chocolate fondant at Coya were a good shout on a Thursday night (equivalent to a Friday night anywhere else in the world) not least for the buzzy ambience – it definitely started to feel more like a club and less like a restaurant as the night wore on…
As my delicious experience with Okku went to show, it turns out the city’s favourite party spots can be spot on at lunch-time too!
But if I had to choose, the main dining highlight was definitely at Qbara – a stunning restaurant, marrying traditional Arabic cuisines with contemporary and international influences… it was a culinary journey for all senses that followed in this enchanting space.
I also had the chance to explore more Middle Eastern cuisines at the very trendy Box Park – a long and bright stretch of shops and eateries. And from the laid-back Australian-style Tom & Serg to espresso-infused buns and caramel macchiatos at Papparoti, it was quite fun hopping across the city’s vibrant cafes too!
What can I say? Dubai, it’s been a real pleasure.