Staycations are the perfect remedy to the frantic pace of city living. Thankfully, we have our own set of man-made desert islands, just a short ride away from the dizzying spires of the busy metropolis that is our home.
Words by Miles Buckeridge
Palm Jumeirah truly is one of the finest examples of engineered archipelagos you’re likely to find anywhere and one with a rich collection of five-star hotels. We come to Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, to test its credentials for a luxurious and relaxing doorstep break.
A hotel lobby is an excellent opportunity to establish theme and character in a property and it’s a shot that Dukes shoots well. The atrium is filled with an aristocratic air; a grand chandelier hangs in the centre above an elegantly-geometric marble floor, the walls feature portraits of men in tunics and fancy hats.
Dukes – as the name implies – is appropriately attired for the titled.
The checking-in experience is also perfectly reflective of the whole stay – efficient, exceedingly friendly and punctuated with an unmistakeable touch of class. The resort has 279 rooms, 64 suites and 287 one-bedroom apartments and, excitedly, we’re picking up keys for a Junior Suite.
The suites feature a handsome and voluminous bathroom, and a subconscious tick emerges when we see the rain shower. The bed is one of the most underestimated elements to a restful trip away and this one will pass the rigorous destress tests of even the most captious holiday-maker.
The big win for us is the living room space. Yes, there is a mini bar, comfy sofa and huge TV, but it is the sea views through the room’s panoramic windows that most readily warm the soul. Junior Suites also come with a tidy balcony, complete with a cute little high table and stool set, perfect for a leisurely room-service breakfast.
Those that choose to unwind in dipping distance of a cool pool will find peace at Dukes. The resort’s ocean-facing infinity pool is breath-taking, precision chilled and permits scaled views of the JBR’s gargantuan towerscape.
One of the hotel’s strongest independent claims to creating a culture of bliss comes in the form of a lazy river. Let us be clear, it is no gimmick, three shady laps did more good for our constitution than most day spas do.
You’ve also got the highly regarded West 14th Steakhouse neighbouring the pool. Extremely convenient if you like to pair well-done tans with sizzling prime cuts. The resort has a private beach for cooler months and a kids club, Dukesy, which boasts an activity-packed programme for the younger vacationeers.
We choose Khyber for our evening meal, a North Indian restaurant offering authentic Mughlai cuisine. The chef advises us to start with a kebab platter (AED 102, good for two to share), and we’re instantly grateful for his counsel. A collection of flame-grilled, carefully marinated chicken skewers arrive at our table and then promptly disappear. The texture of the meat confirms not only the quality, but the chef’s mastery of ‘to-the-second’ cuisson.
Further plates of mutton rogan josh (AED 90), saag chicken (AED 90), Peshawari naan (AED 15), daal makhani (AED 55) follow. All excellent, spicy where they should be and tender throughout.
The restaurant shares our room’s beautiful Gulf views, from a loftier perch. It’s a warm-lit, attentively-staffed, tastefully-decorated restaurant and one that also offers great deals for the budget-conscious. One certainly worth taking note of is their summer-long AED 100 three-course menu offer, available daily.
Not keen on Indian food? There are other restaurants – we already mentioned West 14th, there’s also the Great British Restaurant, a pool bar, cigar lounge and others.
The catering options here will satisfy most tastes.
The stand-out virtues of clicking on Dukes for a staycation are clear. Visit for the system-refreshing qualities of the pool and lazy river, the palate reboot available at Khyber and of course, the operating system – the unwavering professionalism, friendliness and diligence of the staff. We absolutely recommend unplugging here for a true Dubai digital detox.
We stayed as a guest of the hotel. Deluxe rooms are available over the summer from AED 450 bed and breakfast. Junior suites from AED 1,287. Other dining packages available. Log on at www.barcelo.com or call 04 455 1111 for availability and the latest offers.