Have you ever had a dream property in a city? No? Just me? I’ve got a few fantasy destinations picked out in most places and the One&Only has long (loooooong) been on my list for Dubai. (Also worth noting: the Al Maha Resort and Nurai Island, along with the Chedi Muscat and Zighy Bay in Oman). With a combination of the need for a staycation combined with our 13th wedding anniversary, I decided this was the time to pull the trigger. Looking on Booking.com, there were some good deals running (especially as the Eid holiday was about to start last week). Given a choice, I will nearly always pick a Club Room — we haven’t had a bad experience in one yet. Having access to a good (free) cocktail hour tends to be a great start to an evening. Furthermore, booking a higher category room tends to lead to upgrades on arrival.
So, in case you haven’t been to the location, there are actually three distinct properties on the Royal Mirage site (of course, I’d love to stay the Palm property as well, but one thing at a time, people): The Palace (where I originally booked), The Arabian Court, and the Residences. Upon arrival, we were greeted (with a gong…?) and walked to a posh lounge. In said posh lounge, we received dates and a welcome drink, along with fresh cold towels. I dutifully handed over our passports and credit card. We were enjoying the arrival amenity when we were approached to mention that we were instead going to be placed in the Residences. Look, this was definitely an upgrade, but I’m not sure why they couldn’t have called me at say 12 PM to tell me to drive over to the Residences.
While the hotel moved our car, we jumped in a golf cart and headed towards the Residences…for a glass of sparkling date juice (?) and more cold towels. As we spoke to the team, I checked to see when the cocktail hour would start in the Gold Lounge (back at the Palace). Apparently, this is not a perk of staying in the Residences (but the entire reason I booked the room category I did). I politely said as, much and the response was ‘as an exception’ we would be granted access (which we would have to take a golf cart back over to the Palace to enjoy). Now, this felt a little like being a brunch, choosing the champagne package, but being told you couldn’t have the house beverages.
The room was in one of the outer buildings, at the end of a hall and upstairs (all yay for this gal, who only craves a quiet room — much easier said than done). Inside, we were presented with a standard Residence Prestige King Room. And friends, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I can find fault in pretty much anything, so here are my suggestions for the One&Only:
- A television that doesn’t have lines (no, really, the TV in the room was pretty much garbage — I know, you do not come to the One&Only to watch television, but sometimes it’s nice to zone out for an hour while you cool down from the pool).
- An air conditioner that gets cold. I like to sleep in nearly arctic conditions (18C), and we could not get the thermostat below 22.6C (it mostly stayed around 24C).
- A much larger ice bucket. Hubs and I tend to travel with our own beverages, and for love or money, we could not get our champagne to chill in the tiny bucket that was provided.
- Bottles of water in the room. I think this was a miss from housekeeping, as every single room I’ve checked into (no matter where in the world) always has bottles of water waiting.
- I’ll probably get dinged for this one, but as I mentioned, I advised the hotel it was out anniversary. We received the following: two bouquets of flowers (that I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to take with us), rose petals, macarons and other sweets, a signed card (which was a picture of our room–?!) and some romantic towel swans. It basically felt like what someone tells you forces you what a romantic ideal is supposed to look like. We guessed other (far less cynical) people would be impressed, but for a couple that’s been together 15 years, all we wanted was a bottle of bubbly!
- Dinner was mediocre at best (and not cheap).
It wasn’t all bad — I promise. Some highlights:
- Fabulous Molton Brown products!
- An absolutely immaculate property.
- The fact that our anniversary was recognized in some way.
- A nearly private beach.
- Access to a more private pool.
- Friendly and super accommodating staff.
- A fantastic cocktail hour — the Gold Lounge was a great place to meet other travelers, I really enjoyed the experience (and I would recommend booking a room that allows access).
Here are some pictures of our room (minus the rose that was later sacrifced for petals):
So, rooms like this obviously do not come without a price. On Booking.com, I was able to secure AED1800 for the club room (which would’ve included a continental breakfast, afternoon tea and the aforementioned cocktail hour). I know, that’s a lot of money. Our upgraded room would’ve cost AED2,000+ (and would not have had lounge access, but would have included an extended (and delicious) daily breakfast…?). Either way, for that kind of money I would much rather be in the Maldives and spending a night over water.
Time for the most important question: would I go back? Sorry, One&Only, you’re just too expensive for what is on offer. I should’ve listened to the little voice who told me to go check out the W, or some of the other 5 star properties in town.
Have you been to the One&Only? Were your expectations met?