Global and local travelers alike will be delighted with the recent launch of the Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), which opened its doors near the sprawling financial district of Dubai. Located within the Burj Daman building, dropping our car at the valet station, we are warmly greeted (by name!) from the friendly uniformed Waldorf employees and immediately whisked up to the eighteenth floor to the reception area of the hotel.
Even as long-time citizens, we’re pleased to be located near many of the popular attractions in Dubai, and the views of the Burj Khalifa — visible from many of the rooms and restaurants — never get old. We immediately notice all of the interior art, which gives something of a 60s vibe, with sketches, oil paintings, and other striking images throughout the property. Soaring ceilings and natural building materials are paired with stately retro-themed furniture and other details which immediately set the tone. While other hotels often play to Arabian or local features, we appreciate that the Waldorf stands apart as a modern city hotel.
As foodies — we’re in luck, as there are plenty of choices nearby, as well as on-site. Bull & Bear does all-day dining in a contemporary way and is becoming something of a destination for dinner. Of course, as with any Waldorf, there is a Peacock Alley, with its ubiquitous clock, tea and other snacks, including a dedicated cigar lounge for guests who smoke (a USP we don’t take up but realize some guests will need). As we stop by the pool area, we see St. Trop, a stylish rooftop lounge, which will open in October 2019. Located on the ground level, additional third-party outlets are planned to come online in the following months. And, as we expect for a hotel of this caliber, room service is available throughout the day. Although we’re happy with what’s around, just across the street, DIFC’s Gate Village has plenty of upscale restaurants and bars to keep guests happy.
Trying our best to stay in shape while on the road, the modern 24-hour gym overlooks the Emirates Towers and gets the job done with its collection of equipment, with fresh bottled water and cooling towels available. The nearby spa, with four treatment rooms, offers an appropriately luxurious selection, with signature rituals by Amra, a Wellbeing Collection by Neom, and Results Focused Facials by Aenea. Unlike most other spas, there is also a Vichy Suite and a Flotation Suite. The outdoor pool is on the smaller side, but given its location on the eighteenth floor, unique views of the Burj Khalifa, and altogether luxurious sun loungers, plantings and artwork, we were perfectly happy with the pool deck.
The rooms read modern and sophisticated. With ten room categories, there is a decent balance of rooms and suites – including apartments large enough to cater to families traveling together. The use of mostly neutral earth tones and natural fibers and materials throughout the room have an overall masculine tone, homages to the ‘Mad Men’ era the hotel is aiming for. A retro radio is disguised as a Bluetooth device, and we easily pair our phones. Bathrooms are finished in marble overlay, with Ferragamo toiletries and cozy branded robes. For the best views, when possible, we suggest booking a skyline view, to catch some of Dubai’s impressive buildings. The True Waldorf Service and Personal Concierge is also available, should guests require anything extra.
While the Four Seasons DIFC, which is directly connected to the financial district, is a comparable offer, we like how ‘new’ the Waldorf is. Similarly, the Ritz Carlton DIFC offers a large hotel on the other side of the complex but is now over a decade old. Between the three major brands, luxury guests will be well looked after, and it is perhaps a decision based on personal preference. Overall, the Waldorf offers the best version of being close to all Dubai has to offer while emphasizing privacy for guests.