Habtoor Palace is carving a name for itself in the luxury hospitality market, being the first hotel property to join Hilton’s luxury arm LXR Hotels and Resorts in 2018 and swiftly putting its name over the limestone colonnade of what was formerly the St Regis in the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club. The hotel features 126 suites and 150 luxury villas nestled within a cluster of residential towers with a similar limestone-style exterior, while two hotels behind – V and Hilton – offer guests extended dining options as well as shared use of their pools and gyms.
Habtoor Palace itself offers guests a plethora of refined and beautifully appointed dining venues, starting with breakfast at the chic BQ French Kitchen & Bar and ending with first-class steaks at wood-paneled World Cut Steakhouse, while the themed Polo Bar, dedicated Champagne Lounge and patio dining present irresistible thirst-quenching options inside and out.
The original St Regis design, exuding the luxuriousness and opulence that befits its polo resort locale, remains in place, with the venue’s signature classic columns, sweeping marble staircase and equestrian artwork creating an unrivaled experience of class and quality for patrons and an instant escape despite being in the centre of the city.
Designed by Dubai-based U+A Architects, the concept of the hotel was that of a luxurious residence where lovers of equestrian pursuits can feel right at home. The vision was that of the namesake of the resort (and later the rebranded hotel that followed) Mohammad Al Habtoor, founder of the Al Habtoor Group, a known lover of polo who has brought many tournaments to the Emirates. In 2014, when U+A Architects was commissioned to work on the project, the St Regis reputation added a heightened level of luxury to expectations.
Standards remain at the elevated level one would anticipate at Habtoor Palace, with the beautifully landscaped gardens creating a palatial driveway up to the stately European-styled hotel with period grace and hints of Spanish architecture, only somewhat marred by the obligatory construction site at the far end. Top-hatted staff greet you as you pull into the turning circle of water fountains to valet, and step under a classically architected colonnade towards the large glass doors of the lobby. Even for regular patrons, the beautiful reception with twin marble and gold staircases that sweep away from each other to meet on the first floor mezzanine is a jaw-dropping scene; the ornate gold balustrades, thick white columns and various “rugs” of patterned marbles encircling each other add to the neo-classical ambience and sense of supreme luxury; lift your gaze farther to the top of the columns and a kingly seven-tiered golden chandelier draped in crystal necklaces hangs from the domed ceiling like a gift from the Gods.
U+A imagined the space as the mansion of an Andalusian polo player, with antique art pieces, sports saddles and mallets, charactising the persona throughout the hotel. The story is told within themed areas like The Polo Bar, a wood-paneled library-style lounge accented with refined sports references. The conversation continues with the many equestrian artworks that adorn each space of the hotel, all made by UAE-based artists and commissioned through Dubai-based Ophelia Art Consultancy.
One minute you’re whizzing along Sheikh Zayed Road past noisy construction, the next you’re relaxing by the swimming pool in the secluded Rooftop Gardens of Habtoor Palace, listening to the birds, and appreciating the living wall of plants and the blue-tinge of the Spanish-style brass domes. In the midst of the bustling city, the hotel is well placed for business travelers and vacationers alike.
The hotel is designed to cater to the regional market, with unobtrusive bedrooms and suites decorated in Kelly-Hoppen-style tones of white and taupe, and subtle period features, like a dado rail that helps create split walls for striped or damask wallpaper features, while an accent chaise in mustard adds a degree of character. The marble en-suite bathroom with his-and-her vanities and a standalone claw-footed bathtub steal the scene and offer the level of luxurious comfort that discerning guests – who might otherwise be a little underwhelmed by the safe bedroom décor – will be looking for.
If you’re looking for something more expansive don’t hesitate to check-in to one of the suites, namely the Bentley Suite, furnished with the bespoke craftsmanship of the flagship Bentley Mulsanne. For even loftier aspirations, head to the top to the duplex penthouse of the Sir Winston Churchill Suite, with three king-size bedroom suites, palatial reception rooms and a private rooftop plunge pool!
The F&B options at Habtoor Palace will leave no one lacking and provide many delicious flavours for discerning palates. The breakfast at French restaurant BQ is a sophisticated affair — you won’t find bleary-eyed guests wandering down in their slippers with uncombed hair. Diners are seated on champagne-coloured Louis XVI dining chairs around marble tables or amidst feminine pops of duck egg blue on the cosy booths, while period details in the interior architecture and superb views over the front gardens heighten the romance, frill and pomp.
The World Cut Steakhouse is exactly that, with delicious cuts from Australia and America, plus everyone’s favourite, Wagyu. Pescetarians shouldn’t be put off by the name of the venue, and the appetiser menu of caviar, oysters and yellowfin tuna tartare and shrimp ceviche offers plenty, while the miso black cod main could be the best in the city, with its smooth melt in the mouth texture. Guests have the option to use the swimming pools and state-of-the-art gyms in Habtoor Palace and also the two neighbouring hotels, V and Hilton, and with a stunning spa and plenty of sport and polo club action on site, the hotel certainly has the feeling of an expansive resort that caters to every whim and fancy for the well-heeled.
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