This 5-star property, the second Versace-branded hotel/resort in the world, is no stranger to awards. Palazzo Versace Dubai was voted “Favourite Romantic Hotel” at the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards 2017, “Asia’s Most Excellent Designer Hotel” at Asia Awards of Excellence 2017 and it also received the “Best Hotel Lobby” accolade at Leaders in Hospitality Awards 2018. During our last trip to Dubai, we’ve checked-in at Palazzo Versace to see what makes it special.
When it comes to luxury hotels, there’s no shortage of options in Dubai. From high-rise buildings imagined to smash records, imposing structures which impress with their sheer size or design-driven properties, the tiny oil-rich emirate has something for every taste when it comes to 5-star accommodation. There’s the iconic Burj Al Arab, with its unmistakable shape, the world’s first Armani hotel, nestled in Burj Khalifa, and the fashionable Palazzo Versace.
Apart from the awards already mentioned, Palazzo Versace Dubai has also been named “Best Luxury Hotel in 2017” by Ctrip – the leading online travel agent in China, with more than 250 million customers, and the second largest travel agency in the world. The accolade, which involved 25 million of Ctrip users and an esteemed panel of judges from across the industry, recognizes Palazzo Versace Dubai as the top choice for luxury Chinese travellers. Russian-speaking travellers have recognized Palazzo Versace Dubai as well. During a gala ceremony held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the luxury travel consultancy agency CHANCE (Ukraine), has named Palazzo Versace Dubai as “Best Design Hotel”. Two years ago, in October 2016, Palazzo Versace Dubai was awarded the best “Luxury Brand Hotel” in the Middle East at the 10th annual World Luxury Hotel Awards.
Location and architecture
Set in the heart of Culture Village, Palazzo Versace is conveniently located along the shores of the historic Dubai Creek: 15 minutes away from Dubai International Airport (DXB), 8 minutes from Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai and 8 minutes from Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai’s business district. Reminiscent of a 16th century Italian Palace, Palazzo Versace Dubai is a Neoclassical masterpiece with subtle traces of Arabian architecture. Featuring a striking entrance, high ceilings, landscaped gardens, and a range of well-crafted Italian furnishings, the hotel is a true representation of the Versace lifestyle renowned across the world.
We’ve arrived at the hotel late in the evening. As soon as we entered the imposing lobby, the striking ‘Pietra di Fiume’ design of the iconic Medusa and Greek décor caught our attention. Speaking about the lobby, Palazzo Versace Dubai has been awarded the “Best Hotel Lobby” accolade at Leaders in Hospitality Awards 2018, at the end of April. A reputable jury comprising some of the region’s key experts have presented Mosaico at Palazzo Versace Dubai the “Best Hotel Lobby” Award for its distinctive design. This public space is a masterpiece which combines the Italian craftsmanship and the elegance of a fashion-branded decor. The interiors showcase the Versace lifestyle through the contemporary eyes of Artistic Director Donatella Versace, the iconic motifs of Versace being present in each detail such as the Medusa head, the Greek key and the House’s legendary prints.
If photos of you in the imposing lobby are not enough to wow your friends, try this: every Friday between 12pm to 3pm, hotel guests can enjoy a complimentary photo session with a stylish Falcon – UAE’s national bird and a symbol of courage and force – perched on a Versace-designed stand in the hotel lobby. We’ve checked out on a Thursday, so we didn’t get the chance to experience this, but we’ll surely do it next time. Speaking about check-in and Guest Services, Yanina – a member of the staff – has caught our attention with a genuine smile, a pleasant conversation and a warm welcome.
Versace feel throughout the property
The furniture at Mosaico has been carefully designed to provide an intimate experience, ensuring that guests are fully immersed in the Versace lifestyle. A series of artworks set in the hallways feature sketches of the fabulous Atelier Versace gowns. The lobby features a 1000sqm marble mosaic floor, with bespoke furniture and textiles decorated with peacocks, falcons and horses, exclusively designed by Versace for the hotel. The grand chandelier ‘Golden Breeze’ that welcomes guests right at the entrance is made of amber-tone and crystal-clear elements and is based on a classic Versace arabesque pattern, shaped to appear as if moved by a soft breeze, bringing delicacy to 3000 kg of hand-blown glass. The lobby mosaic marble carpet is composed of 1.5 million pieces, hand-cut and laid piece by piece. The mosaic was designed in conjunction with Fantini Mosaici, which have created other masterpieces in the United Arab Emirates such as the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Mosque.
Before heading to our Grand Suite Creek View, we went for a short night stroll around the hotel, both inside and outside. Walking through the public interior spaces we’ve noticed several exclusive designs and fabrics from Versace which fashion fans will surely love. Even the names of the 3 outdoor pools – decorated with mosaic tiles and surrounded by palm trees and flowers – are as Italian as they can be: Capri, Ischia and Portofino. The beautifully landscaped gardens and unobstructed views of the Dubai Creek and skyline make this luxury hotel an ideal venue for weddings and social events. We’ve also noticed that each of the hotel’s 8 restaurants and bars is designed to have an al fresco terrace to reflect the heritage of Palazzos, where the internal court was the informal space to meet, dine and enjoy the weather.
Rooms, suites and residences
Palazzo Versace Dubai awaits its demanding guests with 150 rooms, 65 suites and 169 residences. Every piece of furniture and every fabric that adorns the interiors of these rooms / suites has been designed and tailor-made by Versace exclusively for the Palazzo Versace Dubai. The hotel’s rooms and suites are furnished with the Versace Home Collection that features colours of turquoise, blue, beige, gold, and salmon. Plenty of natural light illuminates the rooms and suites, and serene views of the Dubai Creek or Culture Village can be enjoyed from a private balcony or terrace. The bathrooms feature handcrafted mosaic and Carrara marble tiling, while the parquet flooring brings a mix of white and cream shades.
The Residences at Palazzo Versace Dubai are spacious, with plenty of natural light, and stylishly designed with furniture from the Versace Home Collection. Consisting of 1 to 6 bedroom apartments furnished with bespoke designs and Versace artworks, the apartments feature stone mosaic tiling throughout the living areas, kitchen and bathrooms, while the bedrooms feature parquet flooring. Each apartment comes with its own signature colour palette ranging from turquoise, salmon, azure and beige, giving guests the option to choose one that matches their preferences.
Restaurants and bars
8 is a magic number. I was born on the 8th, so I can easily state that, but there’s more to it. Eight is considered a lucky number in China and in other Asian cultures as it sounds like the word which means “to generate wealth”. Some big companies have even changed the naming pattern of their models to highlight the importance – and sales potential – Asia has for them. Back in 2011, Gulfstream changed the name of its super-midsize business jet from G250 to G280. The change was prompted because the company “determined that G280 is a more amenable number sequence in certain cultures,” said Larry Flynn, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
8 is also the number of restaurants and bars found at Palazzo Versace Dubai. If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine and classic food, then Vanitas – the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant – is the perfect place. With elegant interiors and eye-catching chandeliers, Vanitas is set against the Dubai Creek, which acts as the perfect backdrop for an intimate and cosy experience or a romantic dinner. For a genuine taste of Persia, head over to Enigma restaurant. Inspired by the Iranian origins of the hotel’s Michelin starred Executive Chef Mansour Memarian, Enigma has indoor and outdoor seating that offers beautiful views of the main pool and Dubai Creek.
Another resturant with an Italian flair is Giardino, where we had breakfast during our stay. Dominated by green, light green and ivory, the restaurant – with an outdoor terrace – has a marble “terrazzo” flooring, columns and a wall covering inspired by the jungle motif of Versace wallpaper collection. The crockery belongs to an exclusive line “Rosenthal meets Versace” collection, inspired by “Les Reves Byzantines”. Here you can enjoy Italian, Arabic, Indian delicacies and a range of seafood options. If you’d like to lose yourself in the vastness of the lobby while enjoying lunch, the afternoon tea or dinner, you can do that at Mosaico restaurant (all-day menu). Also take in the panoramic views of Dubai Creek and the main pool offered by the lobby lounge, with its high floor-to-ceiling windows.
Q’s Bar and Lounge
Palazzo Versace Dubai also hosts Quincy Jones’ first-ever bar and lounge. Billed as “Dubai’s most desirable venue for live entertainment”, Q’s stands out through live musical performances, a wide selection of fine and rare beverages and the finest cigars. This purpose-built venue, with a living room-like interior, features regular performances from next generation stars, directed by Quincy himself. If you want to take Q’s Bar and Lounge experience even further and learn how to create your own crafted cocktail, the professional bartenders will guide you.
And there’s more when it comes to bars and lounges at Palazzo Versace Dubai. Enter La Vita, a chic and smoke-free bar upholstered in leather and matelassé textile. With its living-room setting, La Vita is the perfect place for either pre or post-dinner drinks, featuring innovative cocktails and carefully selected boutique wines by the glass. Nestled in the east wing and facing Ischia swimming pool lies Gazebo, a shisha lounge where you can sample a selection of Moroccan, Turkish and Lebanese mezze in the outdoors, or simply enjoy a variety of shisha flavours, from classic flavours to Palazzo Versace special mixes.
The relaxed atmosphere that surrounds Gazebo along with the mosaic-tiled tables, snug cushions and warm atmosphere, make it a perfect al fresco dining option for a casual drink out in Dubai. Last, but not least, Amalfi features an al fresco dining venue at the west lagoon pool. Here you can unwind at the poolside bar or sample the restaurant that offers traditional, rustic cooking techniques to prepare classic Mediterranean cuisine featuring healthy salads and crispy wood fired pizzas. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back outdoor dining with the family or vibrant pool parties with friends while enjoying the vibrant tunes of the resident DJ, Amalfi is the place to be.
The pleasure of doing business
When it comes to venues for events, conferences and business meetings, Palazzo Versace Dubai delivers. Gala banquets, meetings and private receptions can be organised in your preferred style in the hotel’s lavish venues which can accommodate between 10 to 600 guests. From wedding and award functions, to fashion shows and corporate gala dinners, Gala Ballroom provides the perfect setting for exclusive events. The hotel’s three elegantly furnished Meeting Rooms are equipped to accommodate business meetings, conferences or company events, and the self-contained Conference Center area features a variety of versatile function spaces – ideal for conferences, breakouts and luncheons. For enhanced privacy, Palazzo Versace’s three Executive Meeting Rooms are discreetly located on the first floor within the Business Center, with plenty of natural light, and are surrounded by a beautiful terrace overlooking the Dubai Creek.
Located on the ground floor, in the hotel’s west wing, the SPA has 7 treatment rooms, a Spa suite, a nail studio and two Moroccan Hammams. Both the ladies and gentlemen’s relaxation areas have plunge pools in vibrant turquoise mosaics, steam rooms and saunas. Almost 1000 sqm of wellness typify the new Versace spa. Its marble floors of Granito Nero Assoluto – we love how this sounds! – match the grey degrade mosaics and the white birch wood walls with mother-of-pearl details. The décor’s motifs belong to the sea world: cornucopias interlaced with small seashells and embellished curlicues. The perfect place to unwind after a full, business day.
Our brief stay at Palazzo Versace Dubai has confirmed, once again, the importance of a good, fascinating story behind a property, a product or a service. A story that people will remember and will enjoy telling others, thus recommending the business. If you don’t have such a story, you’ll be just another name in the vast sea of similar offerings. In the case of Palazzo Versace Dubai, the story is about the Versace family, the attention to details, the tiny things – colours, textures, patterns, flavours, attentive service – which make the difference. A 5-star property amongst Dubai’s best in a market where bigger, better, bolder and more luxurious are words used so often.