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Sat 18 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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A royal indulgence

Farzana Ali explores the charms of the palace, Dubai's downtown hotel.

Farzana Ali explores the charms of the palace, Dubai's downtown hotel.

Ever rocked up to a hotel and left the papaya untouched because you only eat raspberries? Well The Palace hotel has taken this into consideration and the five-star treatment begins before you even enter the hotel.

With your butler calling you to ensure that your favourite newspaper, personalised fruit basket, ideal mini bar collection and choice of luxe pillows are all in your room before you arrive - you know you're in for a unique experience.

Returning to your room, you’ll find that the butlers have lit the candles, drawn the curtains, run the bath and filled the room with petals.

After all, even your food allergies are noted down. You're also asked to email over a picture of you and your partner, which I found on my arrival had been immortalised into a sugar sculpture for my room.

With the hotel called The Palace, the staff certainly go out of their way to make you feel like royalty. Those who indulge in the Romantic Escapism package will begin their stay after being picked up in a Mercedes limo.

As you lean back in the super comfortable seats, are handed cooling towels, a bottle of chilled water and asked to choose from a selection of CDs, you realise that this is one time when you don't care if you're stuck in traffic.What's more, you'd happily invite a 40-minute road crawl.

Check-in for those lucky enough to stay in one of The Palace's 64 suites is swift. Whisked off to your room, signatures take no time at all. And as you're given a tour of your room - we stayed in one of the Royal Suites - we found that our bags had already been placed in our wardrobes.

Our fruit basket was more of a treasure trove - replete with aforementioned raspberries - and we had our very own mini chocolate fountain. Unsurprisingly, we asked for the chocolate fountain to stay in the room for the duration of our stay.

After getting our bearings and being shown how our bath-cum-jacuzzi and rain shower worked, it was time to indulge in the welcome peppermint footbath. The long soak in essential oil infused water was followed by a relaxing foot massage and was the perfect start to our stay.

Designed by DSA - the team behind the Madinat - the hotel boasts a mixed Arabic and contemporary feel and sees minimalist and airy design meet ornate and intricate detail. At only six storeys high, The Palace may be lacking in height by Dubai standards, but it more than compensates for this with its views of the Burj Dubai.

So much so, that those not fortunate to have a room overlooking the world's tallest tower can head to the hotel's viewing deck to get a closer look. This observation deck will also offer spectacular views of the Downtown Burj Dubai fountain once it's completed.

Promising to shoot 22 gallons of water over 150 metres into the air - the height of a 50-storey building - it'll be a whopping 25 percent bigger than the iconic Bellagio fountains of Las Vegas.

The hotel is therefore also close to the Souk Al Bahar and the soon to open Dubai Mall. However, the hotel's location also means that it's still largely in the middle of a construction site. A fact, or rather noise, you can't escape when you head over to the hotel's otherwise beautiful pool.

The outdoor facilities are also lacking in a Jacuzzi which is further highlighted by the fact that there's a pool side fountain, which could have been better utilised as one. However, back inside, the gym - though small - is functional. Filled with shiny new Technogym equipment, it's definitely big enough for anyone looking to work up an appetite before dinner.

And so, your stay leads you onto one of the hotel's three distinct eateries, Triptara, Asado and Ewaan. Already nominated for a Time Out award for best South Asian restaurant, Triptara - which means ‘the magic at the water' - not only serves up scrumptious Thai food but also offers views of the yet unfinished canal.Running alongside the hotel, this made-made waterway, our butler Danny informs us, will eventually link up to the Marina canal and boast abras filled with tourists.

However, the hotel's signature restaurant is most certainly Asado. This Argentinean steakhouse with its' easy to view Asador Criollo grill, extensive stock of Argentinean wines and fine selection of Cuban cigars, is a hit with meat lovers and wine connoisseurs alike.

Warmly lit, it features Tango dancers on Saturdays and excellent live entertainment daily. Also, the restaurant's terrace is the perfect place to dine as the weather cools down.

Returning to your room, those booked in for the Romantic Escapism package, will find that the butlers have lit the candles, drawn the curtains, run the bath and filled the room with rose petals. They've also had time to leave some strawberries and cream for you to devour by the bath. In fact, every time you return to your room, you'll find that something has been done to give your room that extra special touch.

Those not yet ready to sleep, will find that both the living space and bedroom come complete with DVD players and an extensive list of films for you to choose from. Alternatively, if you've taken your laptop with you, you can make full use of the complimentary wireless connection available in all 242 rooms.

Your stay however, will not be complete without a trip to the spa, which is aptly if rather unimaginatively named, The Spa. Split onto two floors - one for women and the other for men - The Spa offers a range of facials, massages and body wraps.

However, if it's relaxation you seek then try either the signature wellbeing massage, or the fusion massage, which uses Japanese, Chinese, Balinese and Thai techniques to lull you into a complete sense of calm. The Moroccan Hammam is also another must-try treatment.

In all The Palace is definitely worthy of all five of its' stars. The space is beautiful and the staff make every effort to make you feel at home. So much so, that as check-out draws closer, thoughts of how the director of rooms may react if you simply refused to leave, start filtering into your head. And on your glum return home, you'll be left wondering how you ever managed without a butler before...

Location: 5/5

Service:5/5

Dining:5/5

Accommodation facilities:4/5

Leisure facilities:5/5

Outside attractions:5/5

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