One&Only Za’abeel opened in ‘central’ Dubai on 1st January 2024. Za’abeel? It’s the royal part of town, between Their Highnesses’ enclave and the airport, at the very west end of Sheikh Zayeed Road. Look down, from the hotel’s 44th floor, at the royal horse racing circuit, swing around in a clockwise direction to the World Trade Centre and Museum of the Future and on around to Deira and the waterfront where smugglers used to leave for Iran, their small wood craft piled high with washing machines, fridges, those kind of necessities.
Jan Tibaldi, GM of this hotel of the future, has been working on it for a couple of years (he swopped his Maldives resort wear and hid his knees under sleek designer suits). That’s him, above. It’s an image of illusion. There are no metallic paintings behind, it is an illusion reflected in a wall mirror. Hands are not permanently coloured in an orange glow. What is genuine is the superb view from the windows.
There was an amazing vista, too, from an all-beige spa room. This is Clinique La Prairie, wellness wonder, a reception with tea stall, brew made to measure. An enthusiastic young Tunisian therapist said how much she loves ‘her’ room, for its views. She had all her royal blue Swiss Perfection bottles of secret concoctions exactly aligned in military style. After working on a longevity facial she suggested adding a silicone-rolling machine (this is an Italian robot, over a metre tall, with two WiFi-operated tubes, one for the face and one for the body – the face one felt extremely pleasant).
The hotel occupies part of one of two parallel towers connected by the world’s longest cantilever that forms an angled link that could be described as an H where the connecting horizontal has slipped at one end. Architect is Nikkei Sakkei. The four-floor has a mammoth outdoor pool, or series of connected pools, and enough restaurants to satisfy a diner who wanted a different culinary experience every week for 17 weeks. Girlahead dined at Tapasake, an atmosphere-full indoor-out place on the top floor of the link. Sit up, on directors’ chairs, or lounge on sofas. A succession of tapas, highlighted by wagyu nigiri, led to desserts (top billing for a chocolate something). As increasingly always, Whispering Angel completed the performance.
The entire complex is full of surprises. Bedrooms at One&Only are designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, known for such absolutely brilliant resorts as The Maldives’ One&Only Reethi Rah. He symbolises suitable style, for resorts. Here, he has done what is termed an ‘urban resort’. Rooms are monochrome, sand with a one percent infusion of green – and, overall, the same amount of association with a Wall Street boardroom. See what suite 4423 looks like: