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Bur Dubai’s bustling streets make up one of the oldest areas of Dubai, stretching lazily along the south side of Dubai Creek -- the original settling place of the nomadic Bedouin tribes, who founded the city in 1833.

Today, populated by a diverse and vibrant mix of nationalities from the subcontinent, Bur Dubai is much like a forgotten uncle when it comes to the glitz and glamour of modern Dubai -- which is why the luxury Spanish hotel chain Melia’s new boutique five star hotel, Melia Dubai, is a glorious addition to the area for anyone who wants to explore this side of the city.

Set back from Port Rashid, the 164-room urban bolthole might not look like much from the outside, with no grand entrance or golden statues like other flashier Dubai hotels. But inside, a spacious atrium is home to sculptural bookcases and slick, slate water features. The bedrooms are high-tech and spacious, with a sumptuous walk-through bathroom separated from the bedroom by glass and a TV screen that’s actually part of one of the walls, while a rooftop pool offers a rarely seen view of the city’s ultra-modern skyline – one that would be overlooked by anyone living in or visiting the newer parts of town. Take advantage of the distance and watch the sun set over the incredible stalagmite skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road.

But Melia hasn’t just raised the local design level, it has also brought in A-list chefs to helm its two fine dining restaurants. Indian celebrity and popular TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor heads up the contemporary urban eatery, Signature, while Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White is responsible for Titanic.

Bur Dubai is renowned for its cheap street food and traditional curries, but at Signature, Indian food gets formal, with modern twists on classic dishes like butter chicken made with lemongrass and zaatar. Try the gharha, an authentic slow-cooked claypot, the restaurant’s signature dish.

Titanic is an absolute treat, and with no icebergs in sight you can enjoy a leisurely, modern European-inspired meal (think lobster thermidor or rack of lamb, crème brulée or strawberry soufflé) in elegant surrounds, and wish you had enough money to drown in the delicious Champagne cocktails. It is worth building in time and money for both pre- and post-dinner drinks to bookend the meal, or move onto the hotel’s club, Mansion.

For anyone who only knows Dubai’s very recent history, Melia offers a glimpse into how the city used to be, but with every modern comfort and incredibly enticing menus.

Georgina Wilson-Powell is the Dubai Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes hotel review blog sogoodtogetoutofthecity.wordpress.com

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