My review of Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah (Part 1)

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This is my review of the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah hotel.

I outlined the booking process for my stay in this article.  To save money (this was not an official review trip) I booked via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts to get a noon check-in and guaranteed 4pm check-out.  This got me 28 hours in the hotel.

Let’s be clear upfront.  My experiences as a guy on his own on a business trip staying here for 28 hours are not going to be the same as yours if you want to come for a week with two young children.  That said, I have stayed in or visited many of the top Dubai hotels with two young children so I know what is out there.

The official Waldorf Astoria Dubai website is here.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah

Two years ago I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria resort in Ras Al Khaimah, about an hours drive from Dubai. My review of the Waldorf in Ras in here.  The Ras hotel is very similar – arguably slightly better – but costs substantially less.  The two key questions are therefore:

Is it worth paying a big premium to stay in Waldorf Astoria Dubai compared to the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah?

How does the Waldorf – stuck out on the Palm – compare to other family beach resorts in Dubai?

I will answer both of these questions in Part 2.

Arrival and my room

Despite planning to arrive by noon, sleeping in at Hyatt Place and slow traffic meant it was nearer 1pm when I arrived.  The hotel had called me in advance of my stay (an impressively low key call with no attempt to sell me anything) and I told them I would arrive as early as I was entitled to, at noon.  They would not guarantee a room, of course, but implied I would be OK.  And I was.

As I have Hilton Diamond status and had booked via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts I was entitled to multiple benefits.  In reality all I got was a free drink voucher for being a Diamond.  I already had free breakfast and $100 hotel credit as Amex FHR benefits.

Here is the ‘brand standard’ Waldorf clock in the lobby.  In truth, apart from the clock, you could be anywhere.  The hotel could rebrand overnight – there is nothing especially ‘Waldorf’ about it.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai lobby

And a look through the building:

Waldorf Astoria Dubai

In terms of overall design, layout and style, it is not as good as the Ras Al Khaimah hotel.  You need to put this in context though – if you dropped this hotel into the UK it would potentially be the most luxurious in the country.

The good news about the rooms here is that they are big, at 55 square metres.  The bad news is that the hotel has a bad reputation for respecting Hilton Honors status.

I had deliberately booked the worst room category.  Whilst the same size at the rest, there are a handful which don’t face the water – which is front and back of the hotel, as it is on the Palm – but instead face the District Cooling facility (a brown concrete block) next door.  Bizarrely the price gap is only around £10 per night and you really don’t want to book this if you have no status.

I thought, as I was Diamond and only there for one night, they might give me a suite of some sort.  Instead I got the smallest possible upgrade to a room on the side which has the road, not the beach, between you and the water.  My Diamond status was effectively worth nothing, as Amex FHR got me an upgrade anyway.  The hotel was nowhere near full, by the way, with all room categories still showing for sale.

(Note that, whilst the hotel has a lounge, even Diamond members do not get automatic access because Waldorf Astoria hotels are specifically excluded from this status perk.  I never saw it so there are no pictures.)

Rooms at Waldorf Astoria Dubai

You really can’t complain about the quality of the rooms.  A lot of money has been spent here.  Unfortunately, due to the design of the hotel – it is shaped like a ‘6’ and I was was in the circular part – it was a long walk back to the beach, reception and restaurants.

Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah Dubai room

and

Waldorf Astoria Dubai room

It was very classy and I was suitably impressed.  There was also a walk-in wardrobe, not pictured.  Here is the marble-clad bathroom:

Waldorf Astoria Dubai bathroom

…..which came with Ferragamo toiletries and a TV above the bath.

Waldolf Astoria Dubai

I was a little disappointed by the spartan balcony:

Waldorf Astoria Dubai review balcony

…. but, given that I was on the ‘wrong’ side of the hotel, the view was still pretty good.  I should say that, because the Palm is a dead end road-wise, and the Waldorf is virtually the last property, there is very little traffic on the road.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai review

One thing that annoyed me, perhaps unreasonably, was the card on my desk inviting me to buy an apartment in a new building from the same developer, Habtoor.  Other Habtoor promotional material was on display in the public areas.  It isn’t what I expect from a luxury hotel.

Restaurant options at Waldorf Astoria Dubai

Part 2 will focus on the outdoor areas so I just want to touch on the restaurants here.  Don’t ask me about the spa because I didn’t go in.

The headline restaurant is Social by Heinz Beck, a high profile German chef who once ran the restaurant at The Lanesborough in London.

Pricing, even by Dubai standards, was a little crazy.  You are looking at around Dhs 130 for an appetiser and around Dhs 200 for a main (plus another Dhs 47 for each side dish).  Dinner for two with a bottle of wine is likely to run to over £300.  I’m not sure how many rooms the hotel is selling via package holidays, but the clientele at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai did not look like the crowd to drop £300 on a dinner.

The other eating options are LAO (Vietnamese), Mezzerie (all-day international dining, which is where breakfast is served) and Palm Avenue by the pool.  I had two lunches in Palm Avenue and they were totally acceptable.  I didn’t go in LAO.  I did have breakfast in Mezzerie, see:

Waldorf Astoria Dubai breakfast

and

Waldorf Astoria Dubai breakfast

….. which was OK.  By any normal standards you would class it as very good, but it falls below the OTT breakfast buffets you will get in many Middle East resorts.  Remember that breakfast at Waldorf Astoria hotels is now free to Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors members which is one reason why you may want to stay here.

Location

To finish Part 1, let’s talk about location.  I have reviewed hotels on the Palm before.  The location stinks.

It takes 15 minutes to drive off the Palm from the Waldorf Astoria Dubai.  That is just to get onto the mainland – you then need to factor in travel time to where you want to go.  If you plan to be out and about in Dubai then you will go mad after a couple of days.

(The upside is that hotels on the exterior of the Palm have water on both sides, so there are no duff rooms in terms of view.)

If you simply want to sit in the resort all day, of course, it’s not a problem.  However, if that is your plan, why not stay in the cheaper Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah?  The properties are identical in many ways.

I recommend relying on Uber if you want to get around Dubai.  However, the hotel does run a very restricted free shuttle bus (only 5 trips per day, only 6 days per week) to Mall of the Emirates which takes 45 minutes.  It also stops at the Atlantis hotel round the corner which saves you a walk if you want to visit their waterpark.  Alternatively, a Bentley Flying Spur is also available …. price unknown.

There are also no waves on the Palm.  Stay at any of the beach resorts on the mainland and you get some impressive waves coming in when there is a bit of a breeze.  These are great fun to jump around in.  The water at the Waldorf is calm 24/7, since your beach is virtually on a lake, but of course that may be a plus for some people.

In Part 2 of this review – click here – I will look at the pool and beach in detail.  If you received Part 1 by email then you will not have received Part 2, so click here to read it on the main HFP site.

There is also a 2-minute video available on our YouTube site which you can watch here.

The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah website is here if you want to find out more.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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My review of Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah (Part 2)
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Comments

  1. PRAVEEN KALLURI says:

    Nice Hotel with hoarding of Guaranteed to meet a celebrity all along the Palm.My Gold status and free night from Barclay card got me a 1st floor room and stepping out of balcony with the view of Burj Al Arab.Is the construction work still going on?.
    All the Standard Free night awards are Full during this year Easter period so made a booking Waldorf RAK.

    I have few Free Hilton night stays to use this year, thanks to few friends who did put my HHonours number in the application form and Free night certificate end up in my Hilton account.I was calling customer service for reward ID to book under my name.

  2. Had same thought re: “package” guests and the mismatch of the F&B offering at the Sofitel last year – the hotel was busy but the bars and restaurants were generally empty except where half board guests were having dinner. A few venues already closed down

    With the right offering I’m sure people would be happy to spend the money – they are on holiday after all! We would have spent a lot more but just felt like we were getting ripped off or the offering wasn’t what we wanted anyway. Having been before I had come equipped with duty free and a stock up from a supermarket to enjoy on our lovely patio (another bonus of a night somewhere before you head to the Palm)

    One tip is to check out Groupon and the Entertainer is v big in Dubai – we used the Sofitel spa far cheaper than the list prices and most of the hotels on the Palm seemed to have a brunch or a buffet ;lunch/dinner offer.

    I second the location “warning” – Dubai is bigger than most people think and you’ll definitely spend far too much time in a car if you want to do all the usual sights if you stay here. I’ve been plenty of times so we just “escaped” once and did all the things we wanted to do in one hit which suited us – would definitely recommend switching hotels even if on a 4/5 night stay and planning activities accordingly

  3. Barnaby100 says:

    We stayed as diamond on reward nights last year. They quoted us a price for lounge access before we arrived but in arrival they almost doubled it and said was an error despite it being the price widely quoted on flyertalk. They would not backdown. We got breakfast which wasn’t a wa benefit at the time.

    Hotel was ok. Not in luxury category. Quiet all week and packed at the weekend with day guests at the pool. Unpleasant incident with a group of locals swearing loudly and being g very offensive face timing in the pool. Somebody called security who came but refused to approach them when they saw who it was (lots of supercars parked outside if you like that kind of thing). An English guy stood up to them and it was all rather unpleasant.

    Suspect there was a lot of paid company staying in the hotel as well. It was that kind of place. There was some scandal about glamour shoots at about the same time.

    It was a pleasant enough stay but I wouldn’t go back.

    • It looks and sounds like the last resort I’d wish to stay at; but each to their own.

    • Would Hilton Jumeriah Beach be a better choice (Theres two, a normal one and a Double Tree one?)

      Im worried that travelling to and from palm to downtown would be a mission by taxi?

      • The hilton the walk (which is across the road from the hilton Jumeriah Beach and connected by an overpass), is a good option if you have Diamond status. The roof-top lounge has a decent enough breakfast, evening options are also quite good,with great views.

        • Stayed at the Hilton The Walk JBR last April in a 3 bed apartment. It was lovely and very clean – only issue we had in the apartment was the bathrooms are cheap and not very well lit. You’ll also face a long wait for lifts to the apartments. You get to use all the Hilton facilities across the road including the pool, private beach and sun loungers. Of course you are right on The Walk with all the restaurants etc. Going back to Dubai this April and would have been happy to book there again but an apartment at the Hilton Doubletree JBR was a better deal for us.

  4. Stayed 3 times each time has dropped dramatically in terms of service, would t go back, plus I agree lots of weekenders with no manners!
    Once you sell out it’s all down hill from there

  5. Compared to the Hyatt Place review it’s hard to see any stand out points which raise this hotel other than the WA tag. I’ve just looked up the Hyatt Place rate for tonight and it’s £69, WA is £393. That’s £324 difference and personally, I can’t see £324 value here. If anything it has made the Hyatt a more attractive proposition – plus you get hard to earn Hyatt points. Value’s a personal thing though so each to their own.

    A good review Rob – thank you.

  6. To this day the only decent meal I’ve had in the UAE was at St Regis Saadiyat.

    Every other meal I’ve had was expensive and poor.

    Got chatting to people there and was told that most of the meat is imported from India at the cheapest possible price regardless of what the menu says.

    I’ve made peace with the place for what it is, I think it’s bonkers to see it as a premium destination though. The prices may be high in parts but it just can’t back it up with quality in my experience.

    Now stay in JBR whenever I visit, usually at the Hilton walk as it’s reasonable for a multi bedroom suite.

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