Despite being less than 60 years old, the vast modern metropolis of Dubai has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The city now boasts hundreds of skyscrapers – including many of the tallest and largest structures in the world – and attracts 16 million tourists every year.
The city, which started life as a small fishing village on the banks of Dubai Creek, rose from the desert and is now home to hundreds of nationalities from around the world. Visitors flock to the city as a stopover on route further afield, but Dubai also offers the perfect destination for a short break away from home.
With beautiful weather and warm temperatures year-round (avoid the summer months when it’s hot, hot, hot!), it’s the ideal destination for Brits looking to escape the cold, wet winters of home. And there’s plenty to do to keep visitors occupied during their stay.
The city is split into districts with the old town still occupying prime position along the banks of the Creek, with riverside restaurants and bustling souqs bringing vibrancy and culture to the historic area. Downtown Dubai and Business Bay is the hub of the city; home to the business and financial district as well as Dubai Mall (the biggest in the world), the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), and the Dubai Fountains, replicating the world-famous Bellagio fountains of Las Vegas.
Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach are hugely popular with ex-pats and tourists, with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops to choose from. And The Palm, the man-made island jutting out into the sea, offers visitors a unique experience in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
There are more than 200 hotels to choose from across Dubai, an overwhelming choice for anyone planning their first visit to the city. If you’re not sure which area to stay in, Millennium Al Barsha could the answer you’re looking for. The four-star hotel is a new opening just a five-minute walk from the Mall of the Emirates, opening its doors to guests in August 2019.
Our visit came just weeks before the team opened the final elements including the Moroccan Restaurant and spa. The best thing about Millennium’s new 299-room hotel is its location; in the heart of bustling Al Barsha and slap bang in between all of Dubai’s key sights and landmarks.
A stone’s throw from the Millennium’s revolving doors is the Mall of the Emirates. This vast mall is home to more than 600 shops, 100 restaurants, a 20-screen cinema, theatre and Ski Dubai; the world’s largest indoor snow park and it’s very own colony of penguins! Mall of the Emirates is a great spot for catching the sightseeing bus, with two different routes setting off from the car park to explore Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach, and to take in the sights of the world’s only seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab.
Taxis are always available and are extremely reasonable so it’s easy to get around Dubai, despite it being spread along the main highway. The Metro also runs from the Mall of the Emirates and is an easy way to venture into Business Bay and Downtown Dubai for the night-time Burj Khalifa light show and fountains.
Closer to home, if you’re looking for some R and R time then staying in Millennium Al Barsha could be the perfect way to unwind. The hotel is colourful and bright with bold design; the contemporary, art gallery-style lobby boasts bold, modern pieces adorning the walls, statement furniture, and a giant, yellow camel stands at the heart of the double-height space. Guests can relax in the lounge with a coffee or Moroccan tea from the small, kitsch café, or enjoy the heat and a shisha outside in a sheltered courtyard terrace.
Anyone wanting to work up a sweat can make the most of the on-site gym while those looking to relax can opt for a treatment in the spa. We decided to head straight for the hotel’s pièce de résistance; the rooftop pool. The secluded spot is a real suntrap, even in the cooler winter months. The deck is warm underfoot in the hot midday sun and the plunge pool is fringed with flowerbeds, greenery and shrubs. This secret tropical paradise seems a million miles away from the busy Al Barsha streets just a few storeys below.
If all of that sunbathing makes you hungry then you can order snacks, drinks and smoothies from the pool terrace or you can head downstairs for full dining options. All-day dining is available at the hotel’s buffet restaurant House of Colours. Guests can enjoy breakfast here daily, with buffet style lunch and dinner also on offer for those with a half-board package.
We sampled both lunch and dinner in the chic restaurant setting and enjoyed a mix of fresh salad with local dishes such as moutabal (Arabic dip), tabouleh (parsley salad), lamb tagine and fish sayadiah (hamor fish). Western dishes are also on offer along with desserts for those with a sweet tooth, from fruit salad to umm ali; a Persian creamy dish similar to bread and butter pudding.
The hotel is, in some areas, still finding its feet. During our visit, the hotel was quiet so we ate a late lunch alone in the restaurant. Breakfast was busy and the staff struggled to keep up with the pace, with some tables sitting unoccupied but uncleaned. I’m sure once the hotel is fully open and staff have been in post and well-practised that the whole site will soon be running smoothly.
Millennium Al Barsha has lots of accommodation options for visitors to choose from; from normal rooms to suites to serviced apartments. We stayed in a colourful, trendy premium suite. The room was spotless, nothing was out of place – in fact it looked as though we were the first guests to ever stay in that room! We had a large lounge with sitting area, TV and dining area and, hidden behind the front door, was even a small, compact loo.
Through the lounge is the bedroom, with a Super King-size bed and dressing area. The corridor leads around to the clean lines of the monochrome and marble bathroom, flanked by huge wardrobes and mirrors. Large floor to ceiling windows flood both rooms with warm, desert light and make the spacious and comfortable room seem even bigger and brighter.
While some of the rooms offer a peek of Ski Dubai’s unique snow slope shaft jutting out of the top of Mall, many of the rooms look out onto the dusty, empty plots either side. The hotel currently stands in the midst of a number of empty construction sites but Millennium is ahead of the curve opening a hotel in Al Barsha, an up-and-coming tourist area.
The hotel group is capitalizing on the district’s excellent location and I’m sure, if we were to return in just a few years, all of the plots on the surrounding blocks will have transformed into towering hotels. If you’re looking to beat the crowds and stay in a well-located area in a very contemporary, comfortable and cool hotel then Millennium Al Barsha is the place for you.
Rooms are available at Millennium Al Barsha from £78.89.
Address: Millennium Al Barsha, Al Ramth St, Dubai, UAE
Phone: +971 4 211 8111