Palace Downtown

For a true Arabian fairytale right in the middle of our fair town, the Palace Downtown is an ideal place to stay. Authentic Arabic-inspired interior design, complete with wooden arches, arabesque designs and marble finishings, gives this five star hotel a local feel that also manages to look modern. Stuck in Dubai this summer, we thought it a perfect time to experience a staycation and enjoy being in the heart of Downtown Dubai for a night. The hotel is literally steps away from Souk Al Bahar, Dubai Mall, the Boulevard sprinkled with cafes and restaurants, and a handful of other trendy hotels to explore.

If not for 45 degree heat, I would have spent ages perfecting a shot in front of the waterway and Burj Khalifa backdrop. It’s a stunning drive to the hotel’s lobby. It feels like a palatial oasis in the middle of a bustling area.

Sweet Suite

Despite it being dead of summer, the check in area was busy with a flurry of activity. Still, we didn’t wait long at all to check in with the friendly staff. We got a big smile on our faces at the magic words: we’re giving you an upgrade! Instead of a lake view deluxe room, we would be treated to a suite. And how sweet it was.

In keeping with the dark wood/ expensive look of the hotel, the suite had wall to wall carpeting, marble tops and two seating areas. It was literally the size of a spacious studio and one could easily imagine staying here for weeks instead of days. The lake view room overlooks the dancing fountains, Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar. It was so beautiful.

My one note of caution – those dancing fountains keep on dancing every 30 minutes until 11 pm, so if you have young children sensitive to noise or like going to bed early, keep this in mind. That said, the double glazed doors do a fantastic job of keeping the music down to a minimum in the room, so you have a front row seat to the action without feeling like you’re front row at a concert.

Fine Dining

The hotel boasts a handful of popular, spot-on Dubai restaurants, including Argentinean steakhouse Asado and Thai cuisine Thiptara. Thiptara has a beautiful outdoor seating area which we want to experience when the weather is better, and I have had the pleasure of trying Asado multiple times – my favorite aspect being the impromptu tango dancing nights that sometimes occur there. Since we are in the midst of World Cup football fever, we found the perfect place to eat and enjoy the game right across the street: Nezesaussie Grill is a sports bar with a strict non-smoking policy (yay!) and the most fantastic grilled food ever. We had a great time cheering on teams in the lively bar.

Breakfast the next morning took place in the hotel’s Ewaan restaurant and the food was absolutely delicious. They have fantastic variety: Indian, Arabic, continental – whatever you think you may want to eat in the morning, they’ve thought of it and more. Eggs? You can enjoy omelettes made to order, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or – my favorite – Arabic shakshouka baked in mildly spicy tomato sauce. Prefer something sweet? They’ve got everything from french toast to waffles to a section that could be a bakery all on its own. We enjoyed breakfast so much we lingered for over an hour and truly felt like we were on vacation. The staff was also wonderfully attentive.

Spa-mazing

I love a relaxing spa treatment and five star resorts usually have wonderful attention to detail in their spas, including welcoming reception areas, music at just the right level and swanky products. It seems most other guests at Palace Downtown feel the same way because the spa was fully booked for the two days we were there so I unfortunately didn’t get to try it. A reason for me to come back and explore more of this beautiful hotel sometime soon!

#WhatToPack

Do it – get that photo in front of the magical driveway leading up to the hotel with Burj Khalifa in the background. It’s what all the Insta-girls have done! Turn heads while twirling in this bright, fun dress from www.namshi.com.

Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Welcome
 
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
 
The rooms
 
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
 
Eating
 
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
 
 
Location
 
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
 
Don’t miss
 
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
 
 
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at www.hotel-bedford.com
 
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450

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Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

PR queries, feedback and compliments? Email sara@holidaysinheels.com!