Raffles The Palm Dubai – a family escape to the City of Gold
By Bella Shearer
It’s rightly world-renowned for its reputation for excellent customer service and cut-above-the-rest luxury, but Raffles has latterly extended its offering to The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Whilst an obvious choice for honeymooners, the resort is also offering open arms to families looking for a much-needed break in the sun. So, I was delighted to be invited to stay at one of the Middle East’s newest 5* resorts, taking my own young family with me. I headed to the City of Gold to see if the promise of a fuss-free family vacation could really be achieved….
The hotel itself has the very good fortune of being found on one of the prettiest stretches of beach on The Palm. As well as having spacious rooms, a pool surrounded by swaying palm trees, a swim-up bar and immaculate gardens, Raffles also boasts buttermilk-coloured sand and temptingly warm sea, right on its doorstep.
What more could you ask for? Well, for parents – somewhere your children can relax and have fun. Happily, I was pleased to find this palatial hotel strikes the right balance between luxury and comfort – and yet is laid-back and playful enough for children to feel able to be themselves.
The elegant and spacious rooms start at 62 sqm – considerably larger than similar hotels in the area – and include lounge areas, large terraces or balconies, and a walk-in wardrobe. Each room comes with unparalleled views of either Dubai’s famous skyline or the Arabian Gulf, and all are filled with bespoke, hand-crafted furniture as well as the pièce de resistance – especially if you have children – an enormous bath-tub. For those seeking more privacy and perhaps a little more indulgence, opt for one of the Royal and Imperial Villas on the edge of the resort, which come with 3 to 4 bedrooms and their own rooftop pools.
Whether your family is made up of picky eaters, serious gourmands or – like mine – a bit of both, there is something for everyone here. The hotel has five different areas to choose between, including my top picks of Japanese restaurant Matagi, and Sola Jazz Lounge – a lively music bar serving up specialty cocktails.
Come the morning, enjoy breakfast in the aptly named Le Jardin, an all-day dining room with views overlooking the lush Raffles gardens, with views to the pool and the sea beyond. There’s nothing better first thing than breathing in the salty air outside on the terrace, even just for five seconds of solace before your young ones argue over whose brekkie is the biggest! Of course, if you’re more in the mood for regal red and gold décor, opt to eat in the ornate dining room.
Across from Le Jardin restaurant – through the curved and immaculately manicured gardens – is the vast swimming pool. Surrounded by palm trees with a swim-up bar, it is the sort of place one dreams of during a long British winter. Choose between a comfortable sun-bed overlooking the pool or, as we did, one of the two-person cabanas set back amongst the palms – the latter being temptingly shady on a hot day. Alternatively, get your toes in the sand and head down to the private beach, where you can swim or play water-sports. Rest assured that even with the demands of a young family, the staff are attentive and wonderfully helpful, no matter what the request.
Nobody wants to be dragged away from the sea at midday, but fortunately we were able to dine at Piatti by The Beach, a charming Italian restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes inspired by the Amalfi coast. With rustic whitewashed walls and pockets of bougainvillea nestled amongst the tables, it feels as though you’re in Italy. Eat like the Europeans do and let lunch drift on until the late afternoon, while happy children build sandcastles on the beach and paddle in the sea.
For a five-star resort, this hotel is surprisingly family-friendly. Children will delight in the adventure playground, the separate children’s pool and ‘The Young Voyager’ club for 3 – 8 year olds. Open 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm, our kids were kept constantly entertained thanks to an array of activities such as flag-making, kids’ yoga, shell painting and even dodgeball! Grateful parents will also note the rucksack, teddy and water bottle upon check-in.
Meanwhile, for adults who require ‘me time,’ a visit to Cinq Mondes Spa will make you feel like a wellness guru in no time. Walking through an illuminated candle-lit arched walkway to the spa, it seemed as though nothing had been overlooked, and it really was a most indulgent experience. There are 23 treatment rooms, Japanese baths, traditional hammams, scrubs rooms and the largest indoor pool in the Middle East.
The hotel only opened in autumn 2021, and one might expect a few teething problems this early on – but from the attentive staff to the wonderfully luxurious amenities, we left Raffles feeling restored and pampered. Not an easy feat when holidaying with young children, but nothing was too much trouble. A welcome respite in every sense of the word – and we will assuredly be back.