Mark Willis, who heads Accor, Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India, arrived in bright sunlight for a 7.30 a.m. breakfast at the sparkling new Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk. Why, Girlahead wondered, is it called The Obelisk? Well, it is in a 52-floor building that is obelisk-shaped – it has a gleaming golden top that can be seen for miles around and is actually the last memory of Dubai as you fly over the Emirate on departure.
(Talking of flights and Dubai, this Emirate is truly becoming centre of the world. The airport is buzzing, with flights coming in from all over, and that global-leading private aviation business Jetex can barely cope with current demand. Adding to all this activity is yesterday’s announcement that Saudi Arabia has given permission for Israeli carriers to fly over its airspace so there will now be even more air traffic between Tel Aviv and Dubai.)
Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk is only ten minutes’ drive from the airport, which is a great asset. The outer lobby has a fabulous royal blue and gold leaf carpet-look flooring and through to the main lobby you are greeted by a six-foot golden eagle statue. There are a few sandstone columns, a reminder that the hotel’s owner is a dedicated Egyptologist who apparently wanted an obelisk when he was five years old. Honestly, though, there is not as much sock-it-to-you Egypt here as in its sister hotel, Raffles, 300 metres away – separated by entertainment, including restaurants, and, of course, being Dubai, a plethora of retail.
Of the 498 rooms here, Girlahead would probably go for something like #2202, a 55sq m space with fabulous bathroom and, of course, fabulous over-city views. Cognoscenti certainly dine in Taiko, which actually is even more agreeable than the original, also by chef Shilo van Coervorden, in Amsterdam. Cuisine style is very Nobu-like, with the added highlight of a pair of Chinese women drummers who do several stints each evening – see the video, below.
Suite guests have access to a 52nd floor lounge, which of course has the best views, especially at sunset and sunrise. Breakfast is served up there but frankly the breakfast in Brasserie Boulud, far far down on the second floor, is a delight. Much of the space here is a large glass conservatory, with very real-look greenery. A Brazilian-buffet means that available foods are rolled over to you rather than you having to go to them, so the first trolley included home-made yoghurts, some with mango cubes, and another included hot pastries. Of course, too, they offer à la carte, including an Imperial omelette, with crab.
Food throughout was outstanding, and yet again reinforces Girlahead’s view that although she is definitely veering away from haute cuisine ‘fine dining’ the French do know how to cook. Next visit she looks forward to lunching in the hotel’s gastropub, and to trying its L’Occitane spa – yes, French offerings do have style.
Listen to the drummers, below.