Roda Al Murooj is a five star property conveniently located in Downtown Dubai close to The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. The hotel may be familiar to some under its previous guise as the Al Murooj Rotana but with the re-branding from Roda Hotels comes a whole new staycation experience.
From the outside, Roda Al Murooj feels a little overwhelming, a vast complex of residences, shops and numerous dining destinations. The hotel itself is more manageable and we’re greeted with warm and friendly smiles. Heading through the lobby of dark wooden panelling, grand light fittings and floral bouquets, we’re quickly ushered away from the main reception desk and towards the elevators. Unbeknown to us, our executive room comes with an exclusive check-in desk on the hotels upper levels.
The experience is similar to that of the ‘Imperial Club’ at the Atlantis. The executive rooms come with more than just a personalised check-in service though with guests also receiving access to the lounge itself, offering complimentary hot beverages and a whole lot more (but more on that later).
Although by no means new, the property has aged remarkably well and been maintained to a very high standard. Though the communal corridors appear slightly dated, this feeling doesn’t follow into the rooms themselves and each of Roda’s 251 rooms and suites feel modern. The modernity is thanks to a simple colour palette of creams and golds (fitting for a city renowned for its wealth) and a reliance on simplicity. Clustered around a central leisure area, the view from the windows are remarkable with multiple swimming pools taking centre stage before giving way to Dubai’s newest retail complex, City Walk and the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
As a five star hotel the Roda Al Murooj meets all of the expectations in terms of in room amenities – business desk, seating area, fully stocked mini bar, safety deposit box, ironing board and even a trouser press. Our only disappointment stemmed from the powdered coffee and milk which aren’t in keeping with the five star nature of such a property.N
Comfort is key and the combination of large king-size bed, soft robes and slippers, super fast wifi and a good selection of English language television channels, meant that the adverse weather didn’t detract from our first days stay in the hotel. More often than not, when staying in a hotel, you rarely find the time to enjoy the room and we were actually thankful for the opportunity of some downtime.
With so much surrounding the hotel in terms of attractions, Roda could easily provide the bare minimum in terms of recreational facilities and most guests probably wouldn’t notice. Yet this is not the case and guests are granted full use of steam rooms and saunas (separated for men and women), a state of the art gymnasium, three tennis courts, two squash courts, fitness studio and outdoor children’s playground.
As convenient as it was to have these in such close proximity, we have to admit that we didn’t use them. Instead we opted for the swimming pool, surrounded by tiered gardens and cascading fountains. Any visitor to the Roda Al Murooj will likely tell you how good the pool is but in our experience access is a bit of a problem. Due to the design of the building, guests need to take the lift down to the basement level, walk through the gym and then ascend three flights of stairs to access the pool. Alternatively you can walk through Pergolas restaurant but this will again involve traversing stair ways. It’s a mild inconvenience but the effort of navigating the rabbit warren of passageways is certainly worth it.
The pool itself is of a good size and is surrounded by plenty of sun loungers and a bar called Anees. The pool attendants and lifeguards are extremely friendly and take pride in ensuring that guests are well looked after poolside. Beautifully heated, the pool is suitable for all age groups with specific shallow areas cordoned off for younger swimmers. A combination of tiered flower gardens and plummeting waterfalls (turned off during our visit) gives the feeling of a sanctuary away from the busy city streets, though look up and you’ll realise you’re still in the heart of Dubai with towers of glass rising skywards.
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The Executive Lounge:
Those with executive lounge access can indulge in a number of complimentary treats, including a more personalised and refined breakfast service and the offer of afternoon tea. The lounge is pleasant, though expectedly nondescript but the staff more than make up for it and provide high levels of service throughout. We thoroughly enjoyed the early evening cocktail hour (which is in fact two hours) for its combination of mojitos and canapés. After which, it’s unlikely you’ll need to venture downstairs for dinner.
Food & Beverage:
Reflecting the sprawling nature of a property like this, Roda Al Murooj offers a large number of F&B options. Many of which are owned by the hotel, though some are operated independently such as Jodhpur Royal Dining (a firm favourite of ours) and The Stock Exchange.
The hotel itself operates five outlets including Double Decker, a British pub renowned for it’s raucaus Friday Brunch (full revew here). Tabule with its authentic Middle Eastern cuisine can be found amongst the hotels gardens of palm trees, while Circle provides tea and delectable looking cakes just off the main lobby. There’s also the aforementioned Anees and all-day-dining option Pergolas.
Pergolas transpired to be somewhat of a surprise. The name refers to a shaded walkway of vertical pillars which became a prominent feature of 18th and 19th central gardens. Often pergolas were used to grow climbing plants and this is a function that the restaurant has fully embraced. The outside terrace overlooking the pool feels like a European garden, an abundance of shade, tiled mosaics and potted orange trees enhance the restaurant from the usual staleness associated with all day dining venues. Inside is less impressive but we’re happy to report that the brunch offering is good. We’ve become quite accustomed to mid-range brunches offering run of the mill dishes in an exercise of quantity over quality, like a hangover from the international buffet the night before. Pergolas does things slightly differently and although unlikely to compete with the bigger brunches in Dubai, offers something better than standard.
Highlights of the Friday Brunch include an outside BBQ, a plethora of sushi, the Arabic station featuring Ouzi and Shawarma and the Indian and Asian options. A lack of dim sum may be an oversight but with plenty of other items, including a wonderful roast dinner carvery, it’s unlikely guests would notice. Desserts keep up the momentum with Arabic favourites Kunafa and Luqaimat scattered amongst the obligatory chocolate fountain and brownies and the more unusual matcha panacotta. Breakfast at Pergolas brings in live stations for crepes, waffles and eggs, plus an extensive array of infused waters, breads and fruits. We appreciated the Manakish station and the choices of cheeses and yogurts, though the mocha flavoured yogurt may’ve been a step too far. Our recommendation from the breakfast is the thick cut French Toast which any guest to Roda Al Murooj must try.
The re-branding of Roda Al Murooj has been a seamless transition and it’s likely that people will soon forget the properties previous brand and we certainly noticed a difference in service levels compared to previous visits. Close to DIFC, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard and the Burj Khalifa, Roda Al Murooj is situated smack bang in the centre of modern Dubai. With these areas easily accesible on foot, Roda Al Murooj seems like a smart choice whether your visitng for business of leisure. With all our previous expereinces of the hotel revolving around dining, our staycation has re-iterated the Roda brand as one well worth considering and with new properties due to open on Jumeriah Beach and the Dubai Creek, we’re very excited to see the potential for Roda with a brand new property. The future is looking very bright indeed…
We were invited to stay at Roda Al Murooj. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Cover and room images used courtesy of Roda Al Murooj.