An iconic landmark along Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates marks the halfway point between the city’s Downtown and Marina neighbourhoods, both less than 15 minutes away. There’s also the not-so minor detail that it’s attached to Dubai’s second largest mall, making it the ideal location for a shopping spree.
When thinking of five-star hotels in Dubai, you will undoubtedly picture beaches, fine-dining restaurants, swimming pools, skyscrapers and views across this magical city. Dubai is after all a sun-soaked haven with something to offer almost any traveller, so the idea of an Aspen-style ski chalet, with views over an actual ski slope, certainly gave me pause for thought.
On arrival, you’re greeted at first by the sharply dressed doorman and immediately after by the huge, high-ceiling marble lobby; clean, classy and elegant with a hint of the theatrical. Approaching the reception desk, I was greeted by two receptionists who whisked me away to go through the check-in process in the privacy of the chalet.
As soon as you walk in the one-bedroom Aspen Ski Chalet, a mezzanine level immediately above creates a great sense of space, something not often seen in similar suite categories. Looking straight ahead, the floor-to-ceiling windows peer out over Ski Dubai’s artificial slopes and moving through the hallway, the living area boasts a large dining table and a sunken lounge with sofas next to a window: a picture frame showcasing the pristine winter wonderland below.
Images of snow flakes adorn the walls and a large TV screen hangs above the faux fireplace, a nice touch for added cosiness.
The property has captured the essence of a winter chalet and its intimate comforts. The space is a mixture of old wood with marble furnishings and all of the modern additions you would expect from a five-star hotel. The flickering fireplace calls for a hot chocolate while you watch the world go by in what can only be described as a human snow globe. It’s also worth noting that the sofas can pull out to form a sofa bed for the kids, who would have the best views of the snowy scene below.
A stunning chandelier crowns the staircase, with vintage posters and mirrors embellishing the walls en route to the mezzanine-level bedroom area. It’s quite unusual to walk through a bathroom to enter the bedroom, but the open space has been cleverly designed to ensure the king-sized bed has the best views out to the slopes, which is one of the main selling points of the suite.
The beautiful marble bathroom boasts freestanding oval tub as its centrepiece, in addition to a spacious walk-in shower. Flowing seamlessly through to the large bedroom space, fur-style throws and wooden beams add to the cosy Alpine vibe, and the chalet theme continues throughout. I could quite easily spend the whole day on the sofa relaxing and watching people skiing, orbing and watching the live penguin shows below.
Little touches make all of the difference and Kempinski understands this better than anyone. A range of Hermès amenities guarantee a lavish bathing experience and a generous portion of hand-made sweets and chocolates are left on the table upon arrival to put some sweetness into your stay. I was presented with some rather special personalised chocolate creations, themed around my love of football, taking the personal touch to the next level. When you factor in the 24-hour butler service – on call for anything you need – each stay is truly unique. I can only imagine the benefits the extra help would be to families booking the multi-room suites.
While you’re enjoying the traditional atmosphere of a chalet, the modern touches help bring the suite together, ensuring you get all the comforts of home and more. iPads control lighting and the curtains and there’s a Nespresso machine to keep your energy levels high for a round of shopping. Alternatively, there’s a mini bar for a bit of après-ski. One of the elements I really liked is the private dining concept, where the chef will prepare a meal and serve it at the dining table in your suite. Dining options include a turkey dinner served in your chalet, set to the backdrop of Ski Dubai’s snowy landscape: surely the ultimate festive family experience.
While Mall of the Emirates has a dizzying range of restaurants, the hotel itself has a number of must-visit venues. Aspen by Kempinski is ideal for a quick coffee or afternoon tea. Olea is your port of call for breakfast and doubles as a buffet-style restaurant, serving contemporary cuisine from around the world, and Noir serves stylish cocktails in a cigar lounge setting. My personal favourite, however, is Salero Tapas & Bodega. A regular haunt of mine, the Spanish eatery offers consistently superb food with head chef Marco Antonio Blanquer Torres offering a taste of his homeland.
During my latest visit I asked Marco to select a menu he would like to showcase, ensuring I would get a taste of both the signature dishes and new additions. We were brought a side of fresh bread with grilled garlic, half a tomato, olive oil and salt – a traditional Spanish side. Rubbing the garlic and tomato onto the toasted bread, adding a little olive oil and sea salt, makes for a delicious savoury bite, bursting with flavour and the perfect way to prepare the palate. I was set up nicely for three tapas plates; deboned oxtail with a beautiful creamy mashed potato; chicken and mushroom croquettes; and grilled octopus with truffle mashed potato.
The croquetas are a favourite of mine and I have ordered them on multiple occasions. Tasty, crisp and full of flavour, it’s a Spanish staple for good reason. It always seems as though chefs from the Iberian Peninsula have the ability to cook octopus to perfection – charred on the outside with an al dente centre – and the truffled mashed potato really elevates the dish, adding another layer of texture. The oxtail dish arrives with a rich gravy and mashed potato to accompany the meat, and was possibly the star of the show.
BEYOND THE CHALET
The property has a number of fantastic facilities, including a stunning rooftop pool, tennis court and the popular K Wellness Health Club, which is currently under renovation. For the fitness-focused traveller the hotel also boasts a fully equipped gym with views over Sheikh Zayed Road: Dubai’s main superhighway. Guests staying in the Aspen Chalets or Suites also have access to the Executive Lounge on the upper levels. Open from early morning to late evening, it’s just the sport for a relaxed coffee or something stronger in the evening, with food available throughout the day. There’s also an adjoining private room available on request, should you have any meetings scheduled during your trip, or need a more private area for the family. With a different cuisine theme each day, you can taste your way around the world without leaving the hotel.
While many of us would prefer to avoid it, the second floor business centre offers a 24-hour working environment with printing and scanning facilities. Giving it no more than a glance (the work can wait) I quickly gathered that the space has everything you could conceivably need. I, however, had come to relax and continued onward to the pool.
Being attached to one of the world’s largest malls, this hotel is the perfect base for those seeking luxury shopping trips and offers children limitless activities, with Ski Dubai, a VOX cinema and a Magic Planet play area on your doorstep. It’s no surprise the property is a hit among affluent shoppers, Dubai residents and tourists alike, flocking to stores for some of the most exclusive international brands from around the world.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is a truly unique property that appeals to a variety of different audiences including families, business travellers and enthusiastic shoppers looking for luxury accommodation during an extended stay. And thanks to the exquisite Aspen Chalets, it’s also a cosy hideaway.
Kempinski Mall of the Emirates
+971 4 341 0000