Thursday, 28 April 2016

Fashionista Afternoon Tea - Dubai style

In the spirit of looking to find different things to do whilst in Dubai, I was made aware of the delightful Manolo Blahnik Collection Fashion Afternoon Tea at Raffles Salon. 

London is typically synonymous with the traditional afternoon tea so it seemed like a great idea to sample it elsewhere .. and where better than Raffles in Dubai. 

For a starting price of AED 249 for two (approx £50) you can have tea or coffee and the full menu on offer. If you would like a glass of champagne instead the cost escalates to AED 449 for two (approx £90).

The sandwiches, scones and cakes were beautifully presented and absolutely delicious and there was a wide range of different teas available. Of course we could not finish everything so they offer a take home pack so you can continue your feast at home. You do have to sign a disclaimer if you choose this option.

Every month they raffle off (no pun intended) a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for one lucky diner. I wonder if I will win this month? This offer lasts until the end of September 2016.

The Manolo Blahnik Collection is offered every day in Raffles Salon, located in the lobby, from 2pm to 7pm.

Raffles is situated near Dubai Airport and like most of the hotels has a valet service so you don't need to worry about car parking if you are driving.



A Jewel in the Desert

I've been to Dubai in the UAE a few times and wanted to get a slightly different perspective this visit. There's loads of things to do and it really depends on what you like. Literally everything is on offer from sky diving to snow skiing! A whole new world created from nothing in the desert. 

I had no interest in shopping this trip although I did visit the Marina Mall as it was a few minutes away from where I was staying but basically I really fancied a desert experience that didn't involve camel trekking or dune bashing or a safari. A quiet, remote retreat was in my mind - with maybe a spa and swimming pool, fabulous Arabian decor and delicious authentic food. Having said that, there is also the opportunity to do all of the above .. it really just depends on your personal desire. I think if I had the time I would have liked to have tried the archery.

I had heard of Bab Al Shams through a friend and really wanted to give it a try. Having limited time meant that I could only do one night but 2 or 3 would have been infinitely better! I also picked the most perfect time of year to go - 30C during the day and lovely cool evenings. I would imagine that during high summer it would be unbearably hot and uncomfortable so I would definitely avoid July and August unless you like those kinds of temperatures!

We arrived around 2pm and checked into our beautiful room. I've always loved traditional Arabic decor - give me that any day over a neutral, minimalist room as lovely as it can sometimes be. I grabbed a quick coffee from the Nespresso machine and we headed down to the pool for a swim and some lunch. We could have taken the offer of a free camel ride and falconry displays in the late afternoon but we chose to chill out by the pool and take advantage of an evening cocktail whilst viewing the spectacular sunset from the roof top bar. As the live music played and the sun went down the full moon rose on the opposite side. A perfectly magical romantic vision in the quietness of the surroundings of this desert oasis. 

Dinner was reserved at the Al Hadheerah restaurant which is a short walk from the resort through a winding flame lit path. As you get closer the quietness is soon taken over by the bustling of a desert banquet. 

Imagine a feast within a small fortress with carpets spread out over the ground and a vast selection of different foods being cooked and served as much as you can eat. Candle lit tables covered with heavy cloths with chairs or cushioned couches. "There is also no mistaking the mouth-watering aroma of Arabic cuisine as it drifts from the live cooking stations, wood-fired ovens and spit roasts."  

Included in the cost of AED495 (about £100) is a show with dancers, musicians and the story of the camel caravan - with live camels and horses on the periphery of the fort. There is a fireworks display on Thursdays and Fridays so we were lucky enough to experience that too. I also tried Arabic coffee for the first time which has the unmistakable flavour of cardamom .. not my favourite so I'll stick with my regular espresso!

I intended to be up early the next day to see the sunrise but sadly I slept in! I did manage a walk around the resort after breakfast and dipped my toes in the fine sands of the surrounding desert before we left. I would love to go back .. and next time spend a minimum of 3 days there to really relax and chill out.

A special mention to Boules Fam the outlet manager for seating us in a prime location at the roof top bar and all the staff who could not do enough for us. Shukraan! 

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa
Al Qudra Road, PO Box 8168
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 8096100
Fax: +971 4 8326698