It’s a fashionistas dream destination: Giorgio Armani’s first hotel opened to much fanfare in Dubai last month (May 2010). Tucked inside the first few floors of the shimmery Burj al Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, while the Armani Hotel may miss out on the dazzling views afforded to visitors from the building’s observation deck on the 124th floor, few boltholes can boast this much Italian style.
Subdued in minimalist beige and brown, the hotel feels remarkably like walking into an Emporio Armani shop, the clothes racks exchanged for eight restaurants, a spa, 160 guest rooms and display of the stylist’s haute-couture jewellery and clutches instead. A designer extravaganza, almost everything in the hotel- from staff uniforms to furniture, mini-bar munchies, slippers and bars of soap – were painstakingly crafted by Mr. Armani himself. The soap, for instance, inspired by a tigers-eye coloured pebble from a beach in Sicily, took 22 months in production before meeting the designer’s standards.
Guest rooms are spacious and tech-savvy, with stone floors, hidden cabinets and handless doors which blend seamlessly into the walls. Room appliances are operated through a jazzy remote control system, which even connects to a camera outside your door so you can see who is knocking then decide whether or not to let them in without leaving your seat. Book a room overlooking the man-made lake in front of the Dubai Mall and not only will you get a bird’s eye view of the dancing Dubai Fountain, but also have the music piped into your room.
Suave and polished, here it’s all about exclusivity. Guests are assigned a chirpy “lifestyle manager” (aka butler) the week before arriving and rarely will you see a standard taxi pull up to the front door (guests are shuttled around in the hotel’s Maseratis instead). In fact even getting close to the building involves interrogation close to being frisked.
Dubai’s movers and shakers love it; during my stay Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashim al Maktoum, the current ruler of Dubai, and his 20-strong entourage, dropped by for both lunch and dinner.
Burj al Khalifa; +971 48883999; www.armanihotels.com; introductory rates start from 1,700 ++ AED for a double, room only.