XVA Art Hotel

A stylish and peaceful boutique hotel in the heart of Bastakiya, XVA occupies a renovated Majlis-style residence, retaining the original architectural motifs, wind towers and three open courtyards. It is also home to one of Dubai’s most respected art galleries, showcasing Middle Eastern and international contemporary art. This is a stunning small hotel, with seven original and quirky bedrooms designed by well-established artists from the region. All have air conditioning. There are single, double and deluxe bedrooms – all en suite with baths and showers. Walls are white stone with big mirrors. One room has a completely kitsch feel to it, another is pop-arty, one has a silver and purple Gothic theme going on and yet another is modern and simple. The rooms are not huge, but what they lack in space, they more than make up for in originality. Upstairs on the rooftop there are rocking chairs from which you can enjoy the view over other rooftops – especially pretty at night.

The XVA’s cafe serves award-winning Lebanese-Arabic vegetarian cuisine. A snug little library has old kilims on the floor, and art is displayed throughout the hotel. An in-house tailor will turn your fabric bought from the nearby Textile Souk into your outfit of choice, and Boutique has a small fashion and gift store here too. XVA has its own dhow on Dubai Creek and organises gourmet vegetarian dinner cruises on the dhow for hotel guests. It can also organise themed day tours.

Villa Rotana

It’s situated in an excellent location, on the Sheikh Zayed Road, for getting to all parts of Dubai by car or taxi. However, as an area in which to stay, there are no attractions of any sort within walking distance. Villa Rotana is a collection of serviced apartments with a hotel ambiance. The heart of the building is a big empty square space – five storeys built around a covered courtyard, which features a rather soulless International restaurant on the ground floor. Breakfast is a buffet, lunch is a buffet and dinner is a la carte. The apartments themselves are great, and the views over the Sheikh Zayed Road, while obviously not bucolic, are actually mesmerising.

The Classic Studio has either a king bed or twin beds and is decorated in a sleek East-meets-West style, with kitchenette, dining area, living area and bedroom. The Premium suite – with red shaggy rugs, funky modern easy chairs, cool white leather sofas, large flat-panel TVs, a dining table, well equipped kitchen and spacious bathrooms – is extremely pleasant.

There is a health and fitness centre, Bodylines, free for guests, but with outside membership as well. The gym is large and impressive, and there are steam rooms, saunas, a hot tub and showers. The outdoor rooftop swimming pool would be nice if it weren’t currently overlooked by a massive building site – and lots of ogling workmen – but the views from here are fabulous, and a small cafe on the roof serves drinks and snacks.

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