Sofitel Dubai Downtown Hotel – Dubai’s newest five-star hotel
General Info and Location
Sofitel Dubai Downtown Hotel is Dubai’s newest five-star hotel. It opened May 1st 2014 and is part of French hotel group, Accor. The hotel is located in Sheikh Zayed Road in central Dubai, opposite the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, which you can look out onto from many of the rooms. In the other direction, there are views towards the coast. The hotel is conveniently located for business travellers as it is close to the financial district and the World Trade Center, and is also not too far from the Dubai Mall, for those looking to shop. With the huge Sheikh Zayed Road just outside, it is quick to get to other parts of the city by taxi and the subway is a short walk away. If you are looking for sun and swimming, it is probably wiser to choose a hotel closer to one of the beaches.
We checked in three days after the hotel opened its doors in early May. By pure chance, we checked in on the day of the grand opening, an event which was to be held that evening on the pool terrace. We, as media, would also have the opportunity to talk with some of the people who led the project.
The interior is inspired by the French-Hungarian 19th century artist, Victor Vasarely, the main influence and leader of the, ‘op art’ movement, which means optical art. This was obvious, not least, in the large and uniquely decorated lobby.
The hotel has 350 rooms, including 76 suites which are primarily located on the upper floors. Thanks to my gold card in Accor’s rewards program, I was upgraded to a junior suite on the 29th floor (of 31) with a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa. The room was brand new and I was probably the first guest to stay there.
The junior suite was 53 square meters and consisted of one large room with, a double bed, two bedside tables, and a work area with a number of sockets. A flat screen television was also mounted on the wall in front of the bed, and free WIFI was available in the rooms. The bed was very comfortable, with Sofitel’s ‘MyBed concept’. There was also a large elongated closet unit in the room, with a minibar and a kettle on one side, and on the other, a wardrobe for coats and room to store bags and avoid having them in the room itself.
The bathroom was long and ran parallel to the room. It was impressively large and had both a shower and bath, toilet, two sinks and multiple mirrors and hangers. It was large enough that a whole family could get ready in there at the same time. Bath products were from Lanvin and Hermès.
My favourite place in the junior suite, however, was on the lime green swivel chair by the window. It was big enough to be able to curl up in, and placed right in front of the large panoramic windows it gave great views of the Burj Khalifa. Fairly addictive, especially in addition to the small table of French cakes positioned next to it.
A downside of the room was all the built-in technology. For example, control panels were used to, among other things, turn on and off lights, which is certainly a good idea, but it feels a bit too high-tech. It was impossibly hard to find the button to turn off the bedside lamp and of course there was no traditional button on the cord and no available or reachable plug socket to pull out. Even the air conditioning was tricky to regulate.
If you book a Club Sofitel room, you gain access to the lounge on the 31st (highest) floor, but this was not yet open during my visit in May. In the hallway, there was also a door with a sign that read, “Butler”, which gives an indication of what services you can expect at the hotel.
Even the standard rooms, ‘Classic Rooms’, are quite large at 49 square metres, which means you can hardly go wrong whatever room you choose.
Eating and Drinking
The hotel has three restaurants and three bars, including a bar located next to the pool where you can order drinks and snacks. In the lobby, there is a pastry shop and a bar, Op Art Lobby Bar Lounge. The main restaurant is a buffet restaurant which we visited in the morning as breakfast is served there. It has a very colourful décor with many different styles of furniture. The buffet table was in red, yellow and blue, with china and napkins in green and white. Clearly somewhat different to more traditional breakfast dining rooms.
A large pool area is located next to the hotel and is accessed by a long walkway from the third floor. The pool is 60 meters long and divided into different sections. There was also a children’s pool, a pool bar, and locker rooms. The pool area also had a view of the Burj Khalifa.
Free WIFI is available throughout the hotel and worked fine. The only exception was the pool area where it did not reach the Internet server.
Service and Status Benefits
My welcome to the hotel was a very nice experience, the hotel really set a high standard form the beginning. After the taxi dropped me off, my luggage was taken care of and I was welcomed by a hostess and escorted to a sitting area in the lobby where she asked for my passport. While I was waiting, another person approached me with a welcome drink and a cold towel. A few minutes later the hostess came back with a leather binder which contained my booking details, and asked if i had any requests for my stay. After another brief absence, she came back a second time with the key and escorted me up to my room.
The entire welcoming process was very elegant, especially when combined with the stylish uniforms that the staff wore, which were, of course, French-inspired. In hindsight, the process took too long, upwards of 15-20 minutes, which was not so appreciated as I did not have long before a scheduled meeting. My guess is, however, that this will go much faster in the future when the routine is in place.
Overall, the staff were very friendly and courteous throughout the hotel, in many cases, with a French influence and an air of elegance, such as in the breakfast restaurant. Some of the staff seemed to be from France.
A modern and luxurious hotel with a very unique French inspired design, Op Art is not something you find very often in a hotel. Large rooms with most of the facilities you could want and a great view, but sometimes simplicity is also to be valued.