Macaroons are now as much a part of the luxury hotel scene as, say, telephones and televisions and internet (which should of course be free, although still far too many luxury hotels dare to charge for WiFi). Other must-haves have not yet reached always-there status, say iPod chargers and espresso machines, ideally ones that are easy to work and do not eat your coffee pod. But, the gal says, macaroons seem to be everywhere. This display is on the lunch buffet at Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai.
The outdoor terrace pool here is rare among top urban hotels. It is on the fourth floor (fifth floor, US-style), on the top of the carpark block behind the hotel. You reach it from the car park, or via a 20-yard walkway from the hotel’s gym and spa level. The pool is curvilinear, but big enough for laps. As the day ends, the surround turns into an outdoor lounge, complete with shisha water-pipes. Obviously it has WiFi, too, and free. It is so well themed that even the standing (electric) fans are baby pink, the iKandy colour.
Looking down from one of the bedrooms in a hotel that extends up to the 42nd top floor, there is not a lot of colour. This is Dubai of the recent past, and all the more fascinating for it. No skyrises on this, the north front of the important Sheikh Zayeed Road, where the hotel stands. You have an endless view of schools, residences, hospitals and, beyond, the Gulf. Years back when I had more time I used to run there. Now, frankly, I need to save time and multi-skill by watching the news, on BBC World or Al-Jazeera – though CNN has improved of late – while using an elliptical in a gym.
This first-class business hotel gives the comfortable consistency that today’s regular business traveller wants. You can find everything easily in your room; the light switches and shower controls are simple. You get a full set of might-needs like stapler and elastic bands in your inroom office kit, and for women travellers there is a special pouch with necessities of the calibre of panti-hose, though goodness knows whether anyone wears those in this heat. And there are splendid buffets for quick meals.
Breakfast in the 41st floor Horizon Club lounge has a chef, but out of sight so no cooking smells. He can produce eggs just the way you want, and the bread supplies include near-pumpernickel, ideal for us healthy travellers. Downstairs in the ground floor all-day Dunes, you look up at the lobby’s open-atrium upper balconies that have wavy dune patterns on them. A good buffet, like the lunch buffet here shown, has plenty of local dishes like hommus and moutabel, and salmon and lots of seafood, and instances of wow, like this whole parmesan that you can dig into, yourself – the chef says it only lasts a week.
Dine at Dune, or choose Chinese at Shang Palace or Vietnamese in the colourful theatre that is Hoi An (try the pineapple crème brûlée). Local people are big on desserts. They want sweet things, local versions of baklavah and date and semolina hunayni and ma’mul cookies, and, my goodness, macaroons. The phenomenon of the current luxury hotel food offering.