Posts Tagged: Gluten free Dubai


2
Jan 14

One and Only Royal Mirage, Dubai

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Dubai is the place to be right now. It is one of the world’s top destinations in November through to January.

The One and Only Royal Mirage is probably the most enchanting beach resort in Dubai. What is particularly special is that is manages to capture the very best of Dubai in its location and surroundings. Set in well-established gardens, there is a dramatic drive up to the resort buildings through the palm tree lined well-established gardens. We stayed in the Arabian Court, but there are also the Palace and the Residence properties available for guests here.

The hotel properties are both luxurious and dramatic in appearance, and sensitively blend traditional regional elements with pure fantasy in their design. The interiors are extremely tastefully decorated, incorporating elements of Arabian and North African design very successfully, but offer the level of luxury guests expect in Dubai, and are decked with 70 foot real palm trees inside, indoor fountains and plenty of marble. The One and Only Royal Mirage feels a very private and relaxed place to stay and is the perfect location for couples to enjoy a romantic break, or to celebrate a special occasion.

The resort owns a kilometre of private beach for guests to enjoy, which is set at the end of beautifully manicured lush, green gardens and two swimming pools. There are plenty of sun loungers available for guests wanting to sunbathe, and guests are well looked after by the staff on handing ensuring you have plenty to drink. For the more adventurous guests, there is a beach house which offers in-house water sports. We tried the water skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking which was great fun. There is a huge range of activities available every day.

The One and Only is a wonderful place for foodies to stay. Breakfast is a special affair. It can be taken inside or out, with an amazing selection of food available. The highlight is the fresh bread and pastries made by the French chef every day. They are as good as the very best you’d find in a French boulangerie, and are made in abundant quantities every morning.

Food allergies are catered for and staff do everything they can to make you feel at ease, as dietary requirements are communicated to all relevant staff in the hotel. The special gluten free bread and cakes we were given were excellent.

Dinner at the hotel’s Celebrities restaurant should feature on every guest’s itinerary. The dining room is sumptuously decorated with chairs you just sink into, enormous sparkling chandeliers and stunning views through the gardens. The food, cooked by French chef Laurent and served by expert French staff is divine. The lobster thermidor, asparagus risotto and wagyu beef are all highly recommended, although the menu offers a great number of tempting options. The wine list again offers a great choice, or just get your waiter to choose for you – the Poilly Fumé we tried was lovely.

If you’re after some rest and relaxation, you must try the Spa here. It is seriously special. Situated adjacent to the Residence building, in an absolutely beautiful building, it offers a really unique selection of treatments including the must-try, completely authentic Oriental Hammam experience which is simply heavenly.

Service is polished, profesional and friendly and there is a genuine desire to look after guests. From surprise gifts sent to the room, to handwritten letters from staff – there is a real sense of care and hospitality at the One and Only, which makes a visit so special and memorable.


28
Dec 13

Rivington Grill, Dubai

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Rivington Grill is a well-established London-based duo of restaurants that have recently expanded to Dubai, where they also operate from two locations: Souk Al Bahar and Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Rivington is famous for its simple, unfussy British cooking. It’s a mixture of simple, top quality ingredients cooked following traditional recipes, with a modern twist. The quality of ingredients and cooking are everything here. Plates are ungarnished, and the dining room is simple, as the food speaks volumes. There is just one thing though – the view. Both Rivington Grill restaurants are situated in prime Dubai locations and enjoy an absolutely sensational view. Sit outside to make the most of it, if you can.

The menu here offers a good amount of choice with plenty of daily specials to choose from, too. The wine menu is short, but offers some excellent selections and is fairly priced, particularly for Dubai, where alcohol is very expensive.

We visited the Souk Al Bahar restaurant on a busy Friday evening, and sat outside. We were warmly welcome and felt really looked after by our lovely Spanish waitress. With a glass of Prosecco in hand a menu to browse, we were served delicious warm bread and butter – both the standard bread and gluten free were excellent.

To start, we went for the steak tartare and the crab. The steak tartare was a stunning blend of minced steak, tomato and Worcestershire sauce and made with superb black Angus beef. The crab was a Devonshire dressed crab, with the white and brown meat served separately, but both had been mixed with homemade toasted brown breadcrumbs and lightly dressed. Both dishes can only be described as perfection.

Moving on to the mains, we went for the whole grilled Dover Sole, served with tomato and caper butter and the milk fed veal chop with smoked bone marrow and caramelised shallots. Both dishes were delicious and faultless – perfectly cooked and filleted fish and tender, richly flavoured veal. What could be better?

To finish, we shared a knickerbocker glory, expecting a rather retro concoction, but out came an enormous sundae glass filled to the brim with divine strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, strawberry slices and the most heavenly strawberry sauce, which just encapsulated the exquisite flavour of strawberries at their best. It could not have been a better end to the meal.

A visit to Rivington Grill is an absolute must. Staff are really friendly and helpful, and the open kitchen gives diners a chance to chat to the lovely chefs, too. I’m dreaming of returning already!


28
Dec 13

A visit to Raffles, Dubai

Dubai is renowned for its luxury hotels and service, which is viewed as the best in the world by many. Celebrities and royal families flock from all over the world to Dubai. Where do they stay? Raffles. Why? Quite simply, imagine the best hotel you can possibly think of. Raffles exceeds this in every way. It is quite an astonishing feat, but they manage it.

This is a seriously striking hotel that impresses from the moment you arrive. Built adjacent to Dubai’s Wafi Mall, it continues the Egyptian theme of the mall throughout the hotel. Yes, the hotel is shaped like a pyramid and has its own granite obelisk outside, but the decor is executed to the finest possible standard throughout. Many trips to Egypt were made in the design process. It must be the heaviest hotel in Dubai, as practically the entire interior is decked out in marble.

The lobby is seriously dramatic with breathtaking features which wow guests as they arrive, incorporating the four elements of life into the design, something that continues through the hotel. Guests are greeted extremely warmly – the service at Raffles is genuinely second to none at all points of contact with staff – from the Front Desk, to the Concierge and even to housekeeping – friendly and helpful, making you feel like a regular by remembering your name and offering to help in every possible way from the minute your stay begins.

The rooms are really large, from the smallest rooms to the suites, which are favoured by Middle Eastern dignitaries and royalty, who regularly book out an entire floor for their entourage. Suites automatically come with a butler who is available to help you at any time of the day and night.

The hotel has a gorgeous pool, complete with bar and a gilded water clock and a really lovely outdoor jacuzzi. There is plenty of room to sunbathe and enjoy the gardens featuring an exceptionally wide range of plants. Inside, there is a great gym, salon and spa, which offers heavenly treatments. The couples treatments are particularly special, such as the romantic retreat which offers a private Jacuzzi experience, followed by a couples’ massage, all in the comfort of your own private room. Bliss.

One thing’s for sure, your privacy is guaranteed here – it is an exceptionally private hotel – you need not leave your room if you wish. Balconies come with tables, chairs and your own sun loungers, and are absolutely not overlooked – they are just the perfect place to enjoy the sunset with a stunning view.

The food is simply amazing at Raffles. Breakfasts are lovely – they can be taken inside or out, and the choice and quality of food available is superb. Fire and Ice, the hotel’s restaurant is one of the very best in Dubai, with a wide choice of exceptional meat and fish on the menu. The restaurant itself is highly atmospheric, with subtle lighting, dark wood panels and an open kitchen, and wide-reaching views across the city from the windows. The marinated feta with watermelon, aubergine caviar and peppers is a standout starter, and the Seafood Mix Grill is a sumptuous main. Excellent homemade gluten free bread is provided for guests, too.

Even here, in the middle of the desert, you can enjoy an excellent afternoon tea. Currently a fashion afternoon tea is offered for guests and non-residents in the ground-floor lounge, which is popular with locals returning from a shopping trip to the adjacent Wafi Mall. It was not a surprise to learn the Head Chef is English, such is the quality of the scones and fresh cream served. Raffles also offer roast dinners at weekends and sumptuous Christmas feasts for guests over the festive period.

If you are after exquisite luxury and the very finest service, you absolutely can’t beat Raffles.


19
Dec 13

Eating out in Dubai – top tips

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Dubai is a great destination for foodies. Visitors are almost overwhelmed for choice in this truly international Emirate, as there really is something to suit everyone.

The good news is that food is safe, and food preparation standards are generally good, with the only thing to avoid without fail  is the local water – it’s not drinkable, so mineral water is the only way to go. It’s not expensive, and hotels generally offer a decent supply free of charge in guest rooms, which is replenished daily. So, salads, and seafood, and all the things one might avoid abroad are definitely on the menu here and worth trying.

Hotels generally offer breakfast and the choices tend to be very wide, catering for guests from all over the world. The choice often includes the usual suspects, such as cooked breakfasts, with omelettes being very popular, and fruit, yoghurt, cereal, pastries and charcuterie all available, extending to pancakes, curries, noodles and fish quite frequently. The only thing you might not find is bacon and sausages made from pork – chicken or beef sausages and turkey bacon are generally offered as an alternative. Pork bacon and sausages are sometimes available, but are served in a separate station.

Food allergies are readily catered for, and restaurants and hotels are aware of food allergies. It’s always good to phone or email ahead, but Dubai is very geared up to receiving visitors with special dietary requirements.

Despite the cuisine being very international, there is a surprising amount of local produce available. Much comes from more agricultural Emirates, such as Fujairah, and you can easily find local Gulf seafood, and dairy produce on offer. UAE milk and yoghurt is particularly nice.

In terms of regional cuisine, Lebanese and Iraqi food is popular in Dubai. Karam Beirut offers very nice regional dishes from the familiar, such as excellent fattoush, hummous and grilled halloumi, to some more unusual dishes, all served with piping hot, fresh pitta bread and a giant plate of delicious fresh vegetables, herbs and lemon.

For a really authentic Emirati experience, Bait Al Wakeel on the Dubai Creek is the oldest restaurant in Dubai, which is situated on a jetty on the creek, close to the Abra (water taxi) stop. Service and food isn’t the best, but it is an interesting experience for those wanting something a bit more local and informal.

In complete contrast, Dubai is home to some of the very best restaurants in the world which have opened up local branches.

Hakkasan is a great example of this, located in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. It is slick, modern and gorgeously decorated, serving the most exquisite oriental food, wines and cocktails you can imagine. Dining, or even stopping here for a drink is an unforgettable experience and absolutely worth trying.

Rivington Grill is also an absolutely superb restaurant, situated in two gorgeous Dubai locations: Jumeirah Madinat Jumeirah  and  Souk Al Bahar. You may think it’s mad to go to a British restaurant in Dubai, but the food here is absolutely sensational – simple ingredients cooked fantastically well, and served with a great view. Unmissable.

Those looking for more informal dining will find plenty of choice in Dubai. As previously mentioned, there are a huge number of international chain restaurants in Dubai, some good, some more average, but offering lower cost options. Bear in mind though that food is not particularly cheap in Dubai – you won’t find much on offer at a lower cost than in the UK. Some cafes found on both sides of the Creek and surrounding areas are very popular with the locals, but offer less familiar foods in an environment where English is not spoken as widely – definitely for the more adventurous.

Alcohol is available in hotels and more international restaurants. The quality varies from very average to seriously good, as there are numerous limits imposed on imports, which affect the quality, and price of wine available. Those that get around this by paying a premium to import their own wines generally have a wonderful selection, but it is not cheap. Beer too can easily be £8 a pint or bottle.

If you’re looking for some foodie gifts to take home, the farmers market which takes place every Friday morning in the gardens of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers is worth a visit. Stock up on Yemeni Sidr honey and blocks of jaggery sugar for an alternative gift. Otherwise, food gifts are not that easy to find – there are a small number of little supermarkets peppered around the more central areas of Dubai – or there is a giant Carrefour supermarket located in the Mall of the Emirates.

Dubai is a fantastic place for all foodies to visit – and there is somewhere and something new to try every time.


19
Dec 13

The Westin Mina Seyahi, Dubai

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Dubai is one of the world’s hottest holiday destinations right now. It’s also a great destination for families to visit due to the fantastic weather and extremely wide range of activities available. It’s also really not too difficult to get there, too – you get great weather but without a long-haul flight to get it.

The Westin Hotel Mina Seyahi is a top family-friendly hotel offering a brilliant combination of 5 star luxury with its own private beach. Rooms are spacious with large marble bathrooms, and ones with a sea-view look out over the Palm Jumeirah and the hotel’s manicured gardens and pools. The hotel operates a super-efficient concierge service from a Bedoin tent in the lobby, which is on hand to help you plan your perfect holiday in Dubai. The Westin is a favourite with Emirati high society and is an extremely popular place to meet for tea and evening drinks. The Arabian influence is felt from the moment you arrive, and are greeted with a delicious local drink of chilled apple juice with cinnamon and juicy fresh dates.

All bedrooms are spacious with large beds, bathrooms and all the facilities you might need to hand, including large televisions, Nespresso coffee machines and a small terrace with a table and chairs. There is an excellent choice of restaurants on site with Spice Emporium Thai restaurant a must for its delicious, authentic food and fun atmosphere, complete with authentic Thai dancing every night. The menu offers a wide selection of dishes which diners choose to share between the table, and then the portion size is adapted accordingly. The Thai coconut soup and Beef red curry are superb. Breakfast is a very extravagant affair with practically every type of International cuisine you can think of available for guests to enjoy and is served buffet style. There is an emphasis on superfoods, and the fresh, super-healthy juices are a definitely worth trying.

If you are in need of being pampered, then a trip to the Spa is a must. Treatments are highly relaxing, featuring unusual but very enjoyable Swedish massage techniques and gorgeous Aromatherapy Associates products.

The real draw of The Westin is the beach. The hotel has green gardens and a white sandy beach and safe, clear bathing area in the sea, looking out to the Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah. There are a good number of shaded sun loungers available, and a good choice of water sports available from the beach. There is a choice of lovely swimming pools in the hotel gardens, with a super shaded children’s pool available, and a Penguin Kid’s Club to give parents a rest.

Despite being an enormous hotel, the service is friendly, helpful and keen to please.

For more information on activities in Dubai, take a look here.

Getting there:

Dubai is around 7 hours away from London and there are regular flights running from all over the UK.

Flight Centre (www.flightcentre.co.uk / 0844 800 8624) offers 5 nights at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, including flights with Emirates Airlines and private transfers in resort.

Prices for 2014 from £1039* per person based on two sharing (*based on travel between 3-24 July 2014).

 

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