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