Monday, August 19, 2013

Dubai and the Armani Hotel. What a city.





In Dubai sometime back, living a Travelife, I spent most of the day in the area around the Burj Khalifa, Dubai's glitzy icon and the tallest building in the world. 

This area is certainly among the ritziest neighborhoods in the city -- ultra-modern, stylish, high-tech and extremely pretty. 

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MY FAVORITE PLACE IN DUBAI

In general, I really like old-fashioned and antiquated areas because I find them full of charm. 

But for some reason, this very new and modern area around the Burj Khalifa is my favorite place in Dubai

I guess this is because this area symbolizes the many successes of this Middle Eastern state with not much oil (at least not much, relative to its neighbors), but with lots of foresight and good management.

CELEBRITY CENTRAL




I arrived at the Burj Khalifa just in time for lunch at the new Armani Hotel right inside. It's ultra-luxurious and really private. 

When my car drew up to the security gate at the start of the driveway, a guard came out to ask me what my business was there -- whether I was staying or eating at the hotel

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I guess you can't just go in if you just want to sightsee and ogle a few international celebrities

I understand almost all the big-name movie stars and musicians who pass by Dubai stay at the Armani.



A MINIMALIST HOTEL

The Armani Hotel is a mixture of a hotel and also very plush residences.

I met my friends at the lobby and we proceeded to the Armani/Mediterraneo, the hotel's Mediterranean restaurant. 

Typical Armani, it was done in a very minimalist way with lots of muted colors that encouraged cool and calm -- a stark contrast to the heat and the hustle and bustle outside. 

And actually, the entire hotel is done in this manner. 

So in a way the hotel reminds me of one big Armani showroom. No wonder celebrities, design professionals and fashionistas love it.

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INVOLVED IN EVERY WAY

I understand that Giorgio Armani was very hands-on in designing and choosing everything when the hotel was being conceptualized and constructed. 

Almost everything concerning the hotel's design had to pass through him. 

Someone told me that proposals and drawings would come back with the initials GA scribbled on them if they were approved.

SILK ON THE WALLS


The hotel therefore is very simple and streamlined, but all the materials are incredibly luxurious.

For example, the wall coverings are made of silk which is stretched very finely to almost be a sturdy type of wallpaper but with a beautiful sheen and patina.

Meanwhile the floors are made of a special marble


DARK CORRIDORS THAT STRETCH FOR MILES

And just like much of Dubai, it's a hotel that feels like it stretches for miles and miles. 

I went up to the sixth floor to see one of the suites and there were very long corridors on either side that I couldn't see the end of.

Interestingly, the hotel corridors are very dark, which can be initially disconcerting.

They're lighted up at the bottom and top with very small lights to resemble a runway

Apparently, Giorgio Armani wants all his guests to feel like they're supermodels walking down a catwalk -- hence the runway effect in the corridors.

INDIAN FOOD, ARMANI STYLE


My favorite restaurant here was Armani/Amal, an Indian restaurant that is reportedly among the most popular right now in Dubai. 

It had a very streamlined -- what else is new -- but cleverly done lobby with a 3D scene from a Jaipur palace, created purely out of layers of textiles. 

In the center of the lobby too is a stage where Indian performers have a very sophisticated show every night. 

Unfortunately this restaurant is only open in the evenings and we'd already booked another place for dinner.

BUFFET, ARMANI-STYLE


For lunch at the Armani/Meditteraneo, on the other hand, a buffet spread was prepared which was not lavish but extremely good.

This was in contrast to most other Dubai hotels. 

Dubai residents are very big on buffets and brunch, you see, so hotel buffets here are typically known to be very lavish. 


SIMPLE BUT SIMPLY LUXURIOUS FOOD

To start, I ordered a strawberry juice.

They literally ran a big bowl of strawberries though a juicer, I think, and it was so good that I had two glasses even before I headed for the buffet.

Then I began with the soup of the day which sounded so interesting I just had to try it in spite of the heat.

It was a creamy soup composed of baby bone marrow and gorgonzola cheese

What a combination of richness. 

Amazingly, I could taste the bone marrow and the gorgonzola in every bite. 

They were two distinct flavors rather than merged flavors.

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WESTERN AND ARABIC FOOD FOR MAIN COURSES

For mains, they had Western and Arabic stations

Since I was in Dubai for a short time only, I opted for the Arabic food and got a couple of grilled meats with a lovely garlic sauce. 

All excellently done and especially wonderful with some hummus and assorted mezze. 

I know you're actually supposed to start with the mezze and work your way to the hot foods. But for some reason I really like eating hummus and other cold appetizers with the cooked meats.

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THERE GO THE CALORIES

Dessert was a killer.

I was quite good in Dubai regarding sweets, but I just could not resist Armani's dessert station which had an incredible cheesecake, lots of chocolate pastries, and home-made ice creams. 

The home-made ice creams were truly delicious. 

You could taste the vanilla beans in the vanilla ice cream, and the high-grade chocolate in the chocolate ice cream.

Just the sweetness I needed to end another wonderful lunch in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




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