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Sat 9 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Hotel review: The Palace Old Town

The Palace Old Town hotel is designed with the business traveller's needs in mind.

The Palace Old Town hotel is designed with the business traveller's needs in mind.

Nestling in the sprawling metropolis that is Emaar's ambitious Downtown development lies an oasis of serenity.

Despite being minutes away from DIFC and The World Trade Centre, not to mention being mere metres away from the towering glass-clad giant that is the Burj Dubai, The Palace Old Town exudes an old world Arabian charm that is evident as soon as your car sweeps in through the oversized gates and mock fortress walls.

Part of the Sofitel Luxury Hotel group, this is the latest hospitality project designed by Wilson Associates, the designers behind some of Dubai's most loved hotels: The One and Only Royal Mirage and The Park Hyatt, which helps explain the elegance that pervades all areas of this new launch.

Boasting 242 deluxe rooms and 81 suites, the hotel aims to strike that elusive balance between business and resort hotel.

Its convenient location adjacent to Dubai's new business and financial hub means the hotel is designed with the business traveller's needs in mind.

The Royale conference centre along with the Palatine and Regal meeting rooms are the ideal spaces to host visiting delegates and colleagues.

The executive lounge offers quieter surroundings and even provides secretarial services, computer stations and a library.

In-room benefits for corporate guests include a large desk with hidden cabling, WiFi access and a muted colour palette, which ensures an easy work environment.

At the same time a resort feel is accomplished through large bathrooms with the seemingly mandatory duo-basin, walk-in shower and oversized tub.

Every room also has a balcony overlooking the vast network of lakes that will soon connect all areas of the Downtown locale.

The aim is to emulate the Madinat-Jumeirah concept where shops, restaurants and hotels are all interconnected by a short water-taxi ride: The Burj Dubai, Souk Al Bahar and the monster Dubai Mall will all be easily accessible for Palace Residents.

However, like the majority of this fair city, this is still a work in progress, and won't be completed for another couple of years so don't expect moonlit abra rides just yet.

Likewise, the hotel is perfectly positioned to enjoy lake-side vistas from most of its dining outlets, but it's fair to say that these panoramas will only improve with age.

That doesn't stop the Palace's waterside restaurants serving up anything less than fantastic fodder.

Asado, the Argentinian steakhouse specialising in La Parilla cuisine gives the city's more established carnivore-loving eateries a run for their money with possibly the best Chateaubriand I have ever tasted.

Accompanied by a great beverage list and a moody atmospheric interior, it's the perfect spot for some after-work entertaining.

The flickering candle-lit approach to the Thai restaurant, Thiptara, takes you out past the pool and to the uniquely stilted building with a wraparound terrace offering staggering views of the Burj Dubai to enjoy the delicately flavoured Thai dishes.

Despite currently being enveloped in a half-finished neighbourhood, once inside The Palace the seamless service and the subdued style makes you forget this.

The subtle Arabic influence will make this a sure-fire hit with local guests while the European standard of details will impress even the most well-travelled international guest.

The Palace is certainly set to rival its well-established counterparts on Sheikh Zayed Road, and as Emaar's urban brainchild nears its maturity, this hotel may even become one of the City's favourites.

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