Glass stays at Dubai’s Arabian Palace, One&Only Royal Mirage

AS A design lover, the first thing that caught my attention at the One&Only Royal Mirage was the attention to detail. Whilst many of us appreciate design aesthetics such as complimentary colour palettes and visual symmetry, at this particular resort, it’s the sheer grand nature of Arabic architecture that allows the One&Only Royal Mirage worthy of comparison to a palace. 

The entrance to the resort

My taxi drove into the mammoth One&Only Royal Mirage complex, and the first thing I laid eyes on was a gleaming statue of Arabs riding camels. They’d been on a long journey, lost in the desert when suddenly a mirage appeared in front of them where they were taken care of, watered and fed. This legend lives on as a 21st century metaphor. I hadn’t been journeying on camelback in the sweltering desert heat, but I had been on a very long flight. Much like the explorers, I was ready to rest and indulge.  

Domes comprised of the seven shades of sand around the UAE

Water is a key feature at One&Only Royal Mirage. Walking into the grand marbled lobby, I’m met with the leafy sight of four ceiling-high palm trees, and in the distance, the view of glittery water. At first it may not seem obvious, but the One&Only Royal Mirage has built itself around water. In Arabic culture it’s common to settle near water due to the extreme desert heat, but it’s also seen as a good omen. Whether you’re strolling through a corridor, looking out your window or having something to eat, the chances are you’re not far from some form of water.

This symbolism carries itself around the resort in many forms, one of them being architecture, which mimes grand structures such as mosques and forts. In one area, a series of domes are formed with several shades of caramel that are meant to represent the 7 shades of sand found in the the United Arab of Emirates. 

My room

I’m shown to my room, which comes fitted with a living room, guest bathroom, king bed and en suite. Arabic design is bold and royal, so it took me some time to adjust to the size of the room. Soon, I felt right at home and my inner minimalist seemed deprived and dull. It’s hard not to enjoy the luxurious grand nature of the room, and I knew that some staying at the resort were enjoying something even grander.

A choice of rooms, suites and private villas are all available to book with many of the villas offering complete privacy and private butlers – a service used by a string of returning A-listers. One&Only Royal Mirage’s best kept secret lies within the residence & spa, which holds 50 bedrooms for those who want to mould their stay around relaxation. Separate to the rest of the report, the residence and spa can be compared to a boutique hotel.

I explored my room thoroughly, but found myself returning to admire the bathroom. It was my favourite part, mainly because of its detailed stonework and the large bathtub which came fitted with a television. After a long healing soak, I decided to open the door to my balcony and get some fresh air when a wave of heat reminded me that I was indeed in the desert. The air condition has deceived me, and the word Mirage crept back into my head.

DRIFT pool club

Although the One&Only Royal Mirage caters for a lot of guests, it also covers a whopping 65 acres of ground. I’d rarely shared an elevator with someone, and the garden and lounge areas were great for reading a book or sunbathing in peace. After some alone time, I started to crave human interaction so I headed to the more lively side of the resort and  dropped into DRIFT pool club. It was as if I’d entered a whole new world as it seemed the resort’s social types were all lounging at the club, enjoying the ambient poolside DJs, loungers and poolside drinks. With many pool clubs mimicking tacky Miami pool parties, DRIFT has its own agenda, offering a vibrant chic poolside spot fitted with a monstrous background of Dubai’s soaring skyline. 

The skyline of Dubai

Taking a break for lunch, I visited the DRIFT restaurant which boasted the same striking white airy design as the pool area and outdoor tables which allow you to feel as if you’re still by the pool. The menu is created by executive chef, Maxime Le Van, who has composed a menu that boasts organic and healthy dishes inspired by Provençal cuisine. A selection of sun-kissed dishes such as flatbreads, salads and antipasti made the perfect light lunch for me before I returned back to the pool. 

As temperatures dropped and the evening approached, I found myself admiring the twinkling lights over the waterfront whilst enjoying a cocktail aperitif at the Jetty Lounge. I watched as guests boarded boats to visit One & Only The Palm for dinner and a change of scenery. 

One&Only Royal Mirage has hidden pockets that allow guests to feel they’re in an entirely different place, and my dinner location Tagine was about to fool me. As I followed directions to the restaurant, I entered a beautiful courtyard full of rainbow lanterns and guests enjoying drinks and shisha. Following the sound of faint folk music, I eventually found Tagine tucked away in the corner and was met with a scene that could have convinced me that I was in another continent. Printed carpets, live Moroccan music and the smell of richly stewed vegetables filled the air and guests sat scattered, enjoying dinner. 

The Hammam

Many forms of wellness are readily available at One&Only Royal Mirage, including an endless choice of physical activities. With the morning sun as inspiration to get out of bed, I decided to try a paddleboard fitness class at Drift. The idea of standing on a paddleboard and doing jumping squats seemed impossible, but with the help of the instructor, I found myself doing on-land exercises on the water with the ease of a professional surfer in the centre of a swimming pool.

Working out on holiday might sound too strenuous for some, so a visit to the Hammam at the resort’s Health & Beauty institute is essential for pampering. I enjoyed a traditional 50 minute session, where I was bathed, cleansed, exfoliated and massaged all in the steamy setting of a beautiful tiled spa. I came out with glowing skin and a new sense of life all thanks to the natural olive-based black soap they used and the lively scrubbing of the loofah. 

Dining options cover a broad selection of cuisines, however in the heat the I’ve always preferred to stick to Mediterranean food which meant Beach Bar and Grill was my restaurant of choice on the second day. It specialises in steak and seafood, but like all the restaurants on site, they offer good vegetarian and vegan options with the flexibility to swap in items as everything is made fresh. A quick browse of the drinks menu reminded me of the type of guests expected to stay at the resort as a non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice named Gold Emotion, filled with 24 karat gold flakes sat humbly on the drinks menu at almost 10 more times the price of household names such as Coca Cola and 7up. When our waiter came over to take my drinks order, curiosity got the better of me and I ordered a bottle of the Gold Emotion to share with friends.

As I slowly sipped my glass of gold, I reflected on the lavishness of my trip. Everything from the ultra cool beach club to the grandness of my room was elaborate and contrasting to all my previous hotel stays. I came to the One&Only Royal Mirage a reserved minimalist and I left with more flare and a taste for the high life.  

by Katrina Mirpuri

For more information on One & Only Royal Mirage, please visit their website