silvia
Silvia Pisci
Shangri-La Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Rd - Near Financial Metro Station - إمارة دبيّ - Emirati Arabi Uniti
28th January 2016

In a city with such fierce competition between the various 5* properties, you need to constantly up your game and strive to stand out as much as possible, or stay true to your brand. Did Shangri-La Dubai live up to those expectations? Here’s our honest thoughts.

Location
Shangri-La Dubai is located along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, a 5 minutes' drive from Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. The beach is some 5km away, and it takes about 20 minutes to reach Dubai International airport. The proximity to the World Trade Centre, Dubai Convention Centre and Dubai Financial Centre make the hotel a great choice for business travellers.
Who stays?
The clientele seemed extremely diversified in terms of nationality, age and purpose of the stay. International businessmen, European travellers, Asian couples, Arab families… the breakfast room on Saturday morning was a lively mix of all this. Especially at the Club Lounge, I had the feeling that many guests were return ones. On certain days of the week the hotel opens dedicated facilities to non-guests who come to enjoy the local nightlife - it's a younger clientele, but they don't mix with the hotel guests (they use separate entrances).
Style and Character
Shangri-La Dubai is definitely working hard at attracting a mixed clientele of both business and leisure guests. During the day the lobby felt busy with people constantly coming and going, while at night the hotel 'warms' up a little and becomes a bit more intimate. In terms of design, I admit I couldn’t feel a distinctive “Shangri-La character” throughout the hotel, as I would have expected. I felt the style was a bit confused and quite generic, and while the lobby is definitely an impressive one, I just didn't love it.
Service
Service was overall good, despite a couple of lapses; the main one being during check-in. My colleague and I arrived late at night after a whole day of travelling, and I just wanted to get to my room as fast as I could. Instead of just being able to check in at the front desk, we were escorted by a lady to the Club Lounge, where we had to wait some 20 minutes before another member of staff came, completed the procedures and (finally) took us to the room. I know that the Club Lounge check-in is a "perk" but it simply didn't work as well as it should on this occasion.

The second incident happened at breakfast, while asking for more coffee (which I desperately need in the mornings). I got an extremely rude response from one of the waiters who said I could finish what was left in the coffee pot and only then he'd bring more. I've never experienced coffee rationing at a 5* hotel and was honestly taken aback by his response.

On the other hand, service at Hoi An (the Vietnamese restaurant of the hotel) was really good – an extremely enjoyable experience from the moment we sat until when we left.
Rooms and Suites
All rooms (over 300) are spacious and bright, with panoramic views over Burj Khalifa or the sea. The design is contemporary, with curvy lines and sandy colours reminding of the nearby desert and while there is a variety of artworks between the rooms, the overall style is the same (rather plain, nothing too exciting). The best room features were the Crispy Mint or L’Occitane bathroom amenities, depending on the room category, and the variety of products (hairband, loofah, comb, etc.).

I stayed in a Club Executive Room (55 sqm, with seaview) and I must say that I couldn’t feel a big difference as Club guest at first, as I didn't use the dedicated transfer or concierge services. What did make the difference, though, was the access to the Club Lounge and its facilities, which are exclusive for Club guests.
Food and Drink
A superb buffet is set at Dunes restaurant, on the ground floor right next to the lobby (or rather, IN the lobby, as there is no actual separation between the spaces). The variety of food is quite impressive, reflecting the variety of the clientele itself: there’s a French pastry stall, an Indian corner, sushi, dim-sum and other Asian specialties, along with all sorts of eggs and bacon coming out from the open kitchen... My favourite spot was the fruit stall, with a lady preparing fresh-squeezed juices and delicious smoothies on request. Everything was fresh, well presented and replenished regularly.

Club guests can also choose to have breakfast at the Club Lounge, where a smaller buffet is set and many other dishes can be ordered à-la-carte. The atmosphere here is much more quiet and intimate.

Of the hotel’s 5 restaurants, we decided to try the Vietnamese Hoi An. The restaurant is run by a lovely and very passionate Vietnamese lady, and we fully trusted her on a tasting menu. It was probably the best meal we had throughout our trip in UAE, paired by good service and a warm ambience.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
The 4th floor of the hotel is entirely dedicated to sport and wellness, with a spacious and very well equipped fitness room right next to CHI, the signature Shangri-la Spa. Given the dimensions of the hotel I would have expected a bigger outdoor pool, although it looked like a pretty cool and chilled venue.

The infinity pool of the Health Club (on floor 42, exclusively for Club guests) isn’t very big either, but it offers a breath-taking view over some of the world’s most impressive skyscrapers. With the Jacuzzi right next to it and the adjacent relaxing terrace, this was the most enjoyable spot of the hotel to me, and what made me consider the upgrade to the Club really worthwhile.
Perceived Value
With rates starting at around AED1,000/night (EUR250 approx.), at Shangri-la you definitely get good value for what you pay. The Club rooms aren’t much more expensive (you can get an upgrade for some additional EUR50/night only), and they are worth the extra money, especially for business travellers, who can enjoy the complimentary use of meeting spaces, personalized service and a peaceful working environment throughout the day.
Verdict
Probably nowhere more than in Dubai the competition between new luxury hotels is so fierce. It’s just impossible for a 5-star property to keep a solid position in the market without constantly adapting to the latest innovations, while maintaining the high-quality of service. Shangri-la is clearly doing a good job at renovating itself and attract a dynamic international clientele, although it lacks the wow-factor of some of its competitors, and service is not always faultless.