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There’s something to be said for the charms of Old Dubai, and more so if you’re going to spend a weekend nestled in the midst of it, while enjoying all the comforts and luxuries of a five-star hotel. Situated on the north shore of the Dubai Creek, the rooms at Al Bandar Rotana offer fantastic views of the bustling waterway that runs through the heart of Deira.

It’s the perfect marriage of the old and the new, and manages to be whimsical even when it’s situated in the city centre. Situated centrally on Al Baniyas Road, the waterside hotel is less than 10 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Trade Centre on Shaikh Zayed Road, making it ideal for out-of-towners looking to discover Dubai for the first time.

The room

Put up at the classic suite, we walked in to a warm welcome note and sweet treats from the staff. The living area, complete with plush sofas, flat-screen TV and a dining table, looks on to the creek, and the sight of the azure waters is enough to take the stresses of your day away. The adjoining bedroom is roomy and practical, and you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a reason to leave the king-size bed, which also looks on to a flat-screen TV, perfect for Netflix junkies like me. Discovering that the bathroom comes with a tub is almost always the high point of all of my staycations, and to my joy Al Bandar Rotana did not disappoint. All in all, the classic suite is perfect for those looking for some downtime and luxurious comfort.

Where to eat

Our first dining experience at the Al Bandar Rotana was at Salt & Pepper, the hotel’s international all-day dining spot. Sparkling white interiors with gold and silver accents, and an airy terrace to match, Salt & Pepper makes for an excellent brunch venue, especially for families and quiet gatherings. On the weekend we were staying, the restaurant looked especially sparse, but the lavish spread and attentive staff quickly put us at ease. Whether you’re looking for Indian, Japanese or Italian fare, they have it all. My personal favourite was the sushi spread, served fresh and flavourful.

We also headed to Salt & Pepper for breakfast the next morning. A continental buffet awaited us and the fare matched five-star standards.

Other standouts, of course, were Morgan’s Gastropub, a hip bar with stylish wooden furnishings and laid-back vibes, and Gusto Italian Restaurant, a cosy venue that’ll immediately transport you to a pizzeria in Rome. The latter, located on the 18th floor, also offers stunning, unrestricted views of the creek and is an ideal choice for a romantic dinner.

What to do

The summer heat didn’t stop us from heading straight to the pool in the morning. Alternating between sunbathing and taking dips in the temperature-controlled pool, we also enjoyed cool drinks and small bites from the poolside bar to tide us over until lunch.

For the fitness minded, a fully-equipped gym, with saunas and massage rooms, is also available.

The location of the hotel also opens up several sightseeing opportunities. A dhow trip across the waterway will take you right to Bastakiya, the historical neighbourhood of Dubai. The hotel will arrange for a cultural tour on request. Visitors can also opt for a leisurely dhow trip down Deira’s Creekside, whether at day or night time.

For a more modern dining and shopping experience, the newly opened Al Seef district is also just a five-minute boat ride away.

The details

Al Bandar Rotana — Creek

Location: Baniyas Road, Roggat Al Buteen, Dubai

Cost for one-night starts at: Dh274 (summer prices)


Rooms: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 5/5

Cleanliness: 5/5

Location: 5/5