Q: What is it? A: Luxury on the lower floors of the tallest building in the world. Great staff, great stuff for breakfast and the design… well, they certainly managed to make it look just about as expensive as it is.
The almost church-sized, church-like lobby. That would be a pretty modern church, then. But in UAE? C’mon, what are the odds? Georgio Armani was heavily involved in the design but collaborated with Dallas-based firm Wilson Associates to create the interiors of the hotel.
Quoting the interior designers’ website: ”Each space religiously adheres to the Armani aesthetic.” In the case of the bedrooms this means they’re big with big beds and very little else. This is a ‘Classic Room’ and not a suite (although it IS a suite). Approx. size: 70 square meters.
Stepping on bathrooms floors means stepping on Eramosa stone (a building stone from Ontario that became popular in the late nineteenth century; thanks Wikipedia!). And of course everything and anything, ranging from shampoo, soap, towels to toothbrushes… everything is stamped Armani.
Sit down in your crazy big hotel room and write that book you always have told your friends that you’d write. Since the hotel is located on the lower floors of the Burj Khalifa, you can’t expect inspiring views. Outside my window; a metal construction and construction workers.
In this luxury environment, the modern man will cure his caffeine cravings by using his sleek Nespresso machine, which he will fill with his Armani-labeled coffee pods. He will press the button, feeling successful and realize that he’s staying in ”a world of sophisticated beauty”.
The outside is of course way bigger than the inside – and it is visible from almost every corner of Dubai, dwarfing the 300-meter buildings that surround it. Architects: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago. Primary contractor: Samsung C&T. Yes, a branch of the same company that made your microwave.
It starts long before my arrival…
Three months before I’m even near my flight to Dubai, I’ve received two e-mails signed ”Lifestyle Manager”. Little did I know that I needed one. They are employees of the Armani Hotel Dubai and boy, do they send e-mails. ”To ensure that you feel at home while staying with us, a Lifestyle Manager will be at your entire disposal, before, during and after your ‘Stay with Armani’ Lifestyle Management experience. As your unique point of contact within the hotel, Your Lifestyle Manager will communicate with yourself prior to your arrival to ensure all your needs and indulges are taken care of.” Some of them are even Senior Lifestyle Managers. I’m stunned.
Arrival is a ceremony.
You get whisked to a seating section where impeccably clad staff members will show up and serve you juice in tube-shaped Armani glasses, little Armani towels and an occasional Armani cookie. Then they will glide back and forth with papers for you to sign. I’m showed to a room that isn’t a room but a suite. Q: Does it offer understated luxury? A: It certainly does. It also offers almost too much space. Panels reveal closets and little cabinets that you feel almost bad for not utilizing. One wall is leather. One wall is fabric. It’s dark and intimate. It’s visually pleasing. Not perfect, but close. Pictures above will have to do the talking. Surprise! Heavy scratches on a coffee table. Must have been quite a party.
It’s a parallel universe.
As so many high-end hotels, I get the impression that a meteorite could crash into the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake just outside and there would still be a waiter asking you if another coffee would make you feel better. The dark corridors add to the feeling. But it’s not like you’re wandering around in the Death Star of the Star Wars episodes IV and VI (there are no storm troopers and no reactor core). Speaking of coffee; the Armani Hotel breakfast is among the better I’ve experienced in recent years.
Did I feel like living in a 2625-foot tower?
No. I didn’t. Mostly because the Armani hotel occupies the first 8 floors and levels 38 and 39. You will not have spectacular views of the city. My scenery consisted mainly of metal, glass and construction workers. The hotel staff are a mix between freshmen and seasoned hospitality professionals. Padma who manned the front desk at check out deserve a special honorable mention, as the waiters in Armani/Mediterraneo, the breakfast restaurant. If you will only survive the rather exhausting advertising lingo where everything is opulent, exquisite and indulging, the probability that you will have an excellent stay is quite high.
Did I mention the iPads for controlling everything in the room? Why is it that hotels are almost obsessed with these? I’m puzzled. And the thingies come with fingerprints.
Armani Hotel Dubai
P.O. Box 888333
1 Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai
Dubai – United Arab Emirates