Dubai has no shortage of hotels to cater to every type of traveller, including one of the most abundant collections of Marriott-branded properties that I’ve seen among major global cities.
Naturally, as a Marriott loyalist I was keen to try out a handful of these hotels, and after staying at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai in Business Bay for three nights, Jessy and I moved to the newly-opened W Dubai The Palm for our last night in the city. (We’d then continue to the Al Maha Desert Resort on the outskirts of the city for our final three nights in the UAE.)
The hotel was offering a Members’ Summer Promotion rate of 600 AED ($217) per night, which was significantly better value than redeeming 60,000 Bonvoy points for the Category 7 property, so I opted to pay cash for the one-night stay.
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In many ways, the W hotel brand and the city of Dubai are tailor-made for each other. The W is known for its exuberant interiors and its focus on a pleasurable lifestyle, and I can’t think of a city that embodies that spirit more than the oil money capital of the Middle East.
Perhaps it was that sense of hedonism and excess that I had absorbed from my three days in Dubai that motivated me to get in touch with the W before my stay and ask for a Titanium upgrade to their Marvelous Suite, the hotel’s second-highest suite type. I had been on a hot streak of suite upgrades lately, and this time I was eager to push my luck and see just how nice of a suite I could get at this swanky new hotel.
You can imagine my joy when, on the morning of our stay, the chat associate informed me that I had indeed been upgraded to the Marvelous Suite because of “my love for new experiences”.
We’ve only just met, W Dubai The Palm, but I see you already know me well!
In This Post
W Dubai The Palm – Location & Arrival
We packed up our bags at the JW Marriott Marquis at about noon, booking an Uber to bring us over to the W. As we drove over, I was delighted to finally get a chance to visit the Palm Jumeirah, the gigantic manmade island in the Arabian Sea shaped like a palm tree, which had been a minor bucket list item of mine ever since I first heard about it as a young boy.
From the mainland, you first go through a tunnel that brings you underneath a small channel of water onto the main “spine” of the Palm; after that, you drive across a bridge to reach the semi-circular stretch of land on the outer ring, from which you turn left to reach the W on the Palm’s southwestern “leaf”.
Completed in February 2019, the W Dubai The Palm is designed to look like a luxurious cruise ship from the outside, and your approach to the entrance is greeted by a glitzy golden awning covering the driveway. So far so good, in terms of the W’s snazzy visuals living up to expectations.
The lobby consists of a lofted ceiling with porthole-style windows that continue to mimic the interior of a cruise vessel, adorned with an elaborate chandelier running the entire length of the lobby chamber.
It’s certainly a grandstand entrance, and not a first impression that you’re likely to forget anytime soon.
W Dubai The Palm – Check-in
The check-in desks consisted of a few pods lined up near the entrance. The staff member informed us that our Marvelous Suite was not yet ready, and may not be ready for another few hours, and that we were free to take a tour of the hotel grounds in the meantime.
Jessy and I happily dropped off our bags at the front desk and, accompanied by an associate who was clearly quite new to her job, began our tour of the hotel.
I’ll talk about all of the hotel’s features in more detail later in the review, but I was impressed by the amount of thought that actually went into a design theme that might appear on the surface to be a seemingly random assortment of lights and colours.
For example, the staff member was quick to point out every instance where the letter “W” inspired some form of the design (and there were a lot of them), and even informed us that the arrangement of the central chandelier’s light fixtures was based on the audio waveform created when you say the letter “W” out loud. Okay then.
Our tour finished after about 30 minutes, and we had to wait around for another hour or so in the lobby before our room would be ready. Whereas Jessy was getting a little impatient, I was happy to pass the time, because I had a feeling that the Marvelous Suite would be easily worth the wait.
Well, after the associate handed us the keys, we made our way up to the third floor, into the dimly illuminated guest room hallway, which frankly looked more like it belonged in a tacky dance club than a high-end hotel…
…and towards the front door to Room 3002, located at the very end of the hallway. That’s always a good sign that you’re about to get a killer suite upgrade, but to be honest with you, I was totally unprepared for what was about to come next.
W Dubai The Palm – Marvelous Suite
The first thing you see as you enter the Marvelous Suite is… a pitch-black hallway for the first five feet or so.
Then you turn a corner, and you see the first few glimmering purple tiles on the wall, reflecting the light from the balcony windows in the distance. This is where it first hit me that this was about to be an absolutely mind-blowing suite upgrade.
A few feet further into the hallway, and the rest of the suite opens up in your field of vision.
You see the living area to your left, a sea of plush purple upholstery with a bright red pop of colour. The dining area to your right, featuring sleek-black furniture with golden accents. But hold on, what’s this right in front of you?!
A DJ booth?! A full turntable and speaker set in my very own hotel suite, complete with a handful of vinyl records? Are you freakin’ kidding me?!
Wow. Just wow. I took a moment to put on Ed Sheeran’s Plus before continuing my tour of the suite.
Let’s head to the dining room first, which is on your right-hand side. A large wooden geometric table provides enough seating for four, while the bar and pantry lies deeper into the room.
There was a genuine abundance of hard and soft drinks available here, distributed across the display counters and inside the refrigerated cabinets.
There was also a Nespresso machine and kettle alongside no less than six water bottles, which turned out to be very necessary here in the early summer Dubai heat.
A 180˚ turn brings you into the living room. Unlike the jagged shapes and muted tones of the dining area, this part of the suite is decked out with colourful circular blobs, combining with the glimmering dark-purple mosaic tiles along the back wall to give off some palpable “fancy nightclub” vibes.
The seating consists of a large purple half-couch-half-daybed and a snazzy Egg chair with an ottoman, accompanied by a striking coffee table and some gold-polished end tables for good measure.
Follow the mosaic-tiled wall around the corner to arrive at the bedroom, which really pushes the boundaries of traditional bedroom design, to put it lightly.
Forget the central king bed, which is illuminated by a series of golden tube lights descending from the ceiling and faced with a floor-mounted widescreen television.
No, here at the W’s Marvelous Suite, there’s no sense merely having a bed in the bedroom – we’ve gotta have an entire bathtub in here as well!
Indeed, there’s an oversized soaking tub smack dab in the middle of the bedroom, accompanied by a large cushioned surface that’s a spacious enough relaxation area for one person (or three or four…)
Anyway, we must continue with our tour of the suite, now proceeding into the bathroom, via walkways on either side of the king bed.
Similar to many Ws around the world, the bathroom is open-concept in design, combining with the bedroom and walk-in closet without much separation in-between.
The main washing-up area consists of double sinks, while the shower (which had excellent water pressure, might I add) featured a small red stool for you to sit on as the water cascades around you.
Then, around the back from the washing-up area is the walk-in closet, which featured a vanity table (against a cool backdrop inspired by the Arabic script), a luggage rack, and a large set of closets.
Finally, the toilet and bidet are housed in a separate chamber off to the side. It’s worth noting that the bathroom also has a separate door leading to the hallway near the entrance to the suite, so in fact the entire Marvelous Suite is connected by hallways all the way around.
Does that conclude our tour of the suite, though? Most definitely not, because we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet!
Once again, proceed through the hallway, past the DJ booth blaring Ed Sheeran’s “A-Team”, and slide those floor-to-ceiling doors in the living room right open – revealing the humongous outdoor patio, complete with a private whirlpool!
WOW! “Marvelous” does not even begin to describe the feeling of stepping out on to the private deck and realizing that this was entirely ours for the day. It was at this point, upon getting into the whirlpool and taking in the Dubai skyline in the distance, that I concluded that this was easily the best hotel suite upgrade I had ever received.
In addition to the whirlpool…
…the outdoor patio also features lounge chairs and outdoor couches with enough seating for 10 or more…
…and a few daybeds around the corner as well, facing the spectacular view of the W Dubai The Palm’s gorgeous pool area.
In many ways, Jessy and I felt that the Marvelous Suite was almost wasted on us, since this place could comfortably throw a party for 20 or 30 people – and a rather debaucherous one at that!
Indeed, if we knew anyone in Dubai, we certainly would’ve invited them over, asked them to bring all their friends over, and gotten the deep house music playing on the DJ booth.
Anyway, with such a stunning suite to enjoy for the rest of the day, Jessy and I relinquished any plans we had of leaving the hotel to look at other parts of the Palm Jumeirah, and decided to spend all of the next 24 hours here at the W. I’ll therefore bring you through all of the hotel’s features in the order that we checked them out.
W Dubai The Palm – Pools & Beach
First up, let’s talk about the lobby lounge, which is as impressively spacious as it is jam-packed with seemingly as many extravagant pieces of furniture that the hotel could get their hands on.
Polygons and polyhedra were the dominant design theme behind many of the seating areas and the ornaments dotted around the space…
…but there were just as many random touches that made you go “hmm…” as well, like this sculpture of a giant ant guarding the entrance.
As though to drive home the W brand’s emphasis on self-indulgence, there was even a made-to-scale model of the hotel’s own building on display! It’s definitely a strikingly designed building, I’ll give it that.
Then let’s head outside to the pool and beach. In keeping with the hotel’s identity, the W’s swimming pools – otherwise known as the WET Deck – are very much built for style over substance.
There are no less than a dozen separate individual pools, which aren’t really large enough for anything more than taking a quick dip and then tanning in the sunbeds.
The poolside facilities include bright pink tanning chairs and individual cabanas that can be reserved by hotel guests. Meanwhile, the pool attendants were quick to hand you a bucket of iced water bottles and take any other food or beverage orders.
May is low season in Dubai, so the pools weren’t too heavily occupied during our stay, and we had a good time enjoying the ambience from the many different “levels” of the pool setup.
The WET Deck is also home to an open stage with a large DJ booth, which I imagine gets to throw some pretty crazy parties for the Dubai clientele every now and then.
We also headed down to the (obviously artificial) beach, which faces into the centre of the Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai skyline views in the distance. There are several dozen more beach chairs and cabanas positioned here, although given that it was low season, we barely saw anyone else making use of the facilities.
W Dubai The Palm – Dining
After playing a bit of beach soccer, we retreated to our room once again. It was at this point that our welcome gift had been delivered: a bottle of champagne, an Arabic meze spread, and a bar of platinum-coloured chocolate with the word “Platinum” encrusted on it.
Now if only they had actually gotten my Titanium status right… 😉
Jessy and I relaxed on our private deck for another few hours before our 7pm dinner reservation at Akira Back Dubai, the hotel’s signature restaurant run by the renowned snowboarder-turned-chef.
Akira Back is located on the fifth floor of the building, although only via a special set of elevators that leads to the hotel’s restaurants.
Having seen Akira Back’s restaurants popping up all over the world, from Singapore (where it’s the in-house restaurant for the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach) to my home in Toronto, I was excited to give this up-and-coming chef’s forward-thinking sushi creations a try.
Dinner was excellent. We started with the mouthwatering bulgogi tacos before moving onto a few ingenious sushi roll dishes. When dessert was offered, we couldn’t resist, and we were happy we didn’t: Chef Back’s caramel popcorn with mochi and ice cream was an absolute masterstroke.
The bill came to a pretty hefty 460 AED ($170), but after one month of surviving on relatively cheap lunches and dinners throughout our trip through the Middle East, I was happy to splurge a little – and there’s no denying that the ostentatious surroundings here at the W made me feel compelled to splurge!
W Dubai The Palm – Breakfast
Breakfast the next morning was a similar treat. As a Titanium Elite member, I was treated to complimentary breakfast at Liv, the hotel’s casual eatery on the ground floor.
Given the many ways in which the hotel had dazzled and delighted us already, I came into the meal with high expectations, and it did not let me down. The selection included Western classics like scrambled eggs and breakfast sausages, Asian specialties such as dim sum, and Middle Eastern favourites like shakshouka – poached eggs in a mixture of tomato, chilli, and garlic.
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One of the things I enjoy most about staying at Ws is that every little detail is used to remind you of the fact that you’re at a W and nowhere else. For example, take note of hard-boiled eggs, which rather hilariously had messages of “Pick me!” hand-drawn on their shells.
Also, this kind of donut spread is simply unacceptable in my opinion – how am I supposed to resist grabbing a chocolate-glazed donut or two when they’re put on such prominent display?
W Dubai The Palm – Gym
Indeed, after breakfast, a visit to the hotel’s fitness centre was very much necessary to wash all of it down. FIT, as its known, is located on the building’s second floor, nestled among the neighbouring guest rooms.
While the indoor section is a little restrictive in terms of space, the gym’s most impressive feature is its outdoor aerobics area, which spans the entire length of the balcony and overlooks the WET Deck and the beach at ground level.
It’s just a shame that it was far too hot to exercise outside during the early summer heat, and I imagine that the space gets a lot more use in times of cooler weather.
As the clock struck noon, Jessy and I went for one final dip in our private whirlpool on the deck, taking some time to fully appreciate the best suite upgrade we’ve ever gotten before it was all over.
Soon after, we hunted down our belongings from all corners of the suite, packed our bags, and headed downstairs to meet the driver we had booked to bring us on the one-hour journey over to Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa outside the city.
It might not be to everyone’s taste, but I can’t deny that W Hotels are something of a guilty pleasure of mine when enjoyed in small doses, and the W Dubai The Palm was the perfect example. From the bathtub in the bedroom to the lavish private patio and whirlpool, the 1,980-square-feet Marvelous Suite was far more generously appointed than any reasonable person would need out of a hotel room, and it almost made me feel unworthy of spending the night within its shimmering mosaic-tiled walls.
If you’re in Dubai and are interested in seeing the city, then I’d advise choosing a more centrally-located hotel; however, if you simply want to indulge in a spectacular dose of the luxury and excess that the city is best known for, come to the W Dubai The Palm and ask for their Marvelous Suite – you won’t regret it.
And would you believe it: with Al Maha and then an Emirates First Class extravaganza on the horizon, the luxury factor of this trip was only just beginning to simmer…