The Armani Dubai Suite, designed by Mr. Giorgio Armani himself, occupies a grand sweep of level 39 in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. A rare minimalist enclave in a city with an abundance of outlandish suites, it caters to those looking for a home-from-home experience in Dubai.
The suite: Furnishings - in burnished copper, silver and black - are from the Armani home furnishings collection, and are distinctive from any other hotel in Dubai. Accommodation in the emirate tends to be done out in designs inspired by Islamic architecture - carved wooden ceilings and screens, rich Persian rugs and arched doorways. The Armani Dubai Suite is an exception: it has clean curved walls, cabinets with checkerboard lacquer fronting, and glossy wooden floors. It is a refreshing change.
The large study proved conducive to good work - I plugged in my laptop and sat comfortably for hours alongside shelving holding books on Bauhaus design and the creation of the Emirates. This is very much a suite for living in - with two bedrooms, it accommodates five adults and one child under 12 in its 390sq m (4198sq ft). A gym with a treadmill, bike and free weights, a dining room, a full-service kitchen and a dressing room resembling an Armani shop mean a group could stay here for weeks without feeling deprived of space or services.
The hotel: Its setting within the Burj Khalifa means the Armani Hotel Dubai can claim one of the most impressive addresses in the emirates, and one that's known around the world. With its displays of Armani watches and perfumes, the lobby area felt slightly too much like a retail outlet, but, as in the suite, the sleek black, grey and lacquer furnishings made a welcome change from the lanterns-and-rugs aesthetic that predominates in so many hotels in the region.
The hotel’s six dining outlets include Hashi, offering Japanese cuisine, and Ristorante, offering an Italian menu in a dining room overlooking the Dubai Fountain, which is impressive even for those cynical about Dubai’s ostentation. Dishes available during my stay included cod with summer vegetables, and an enjoyable chilled chocolate ganache dessert. I did think, however, that the restaurant music was slightly too loud. Breakfast is a fine buffet selection of Italian meats, cheese and salads, as well as Middle Eastern mezze.
One swimming pool was out of service during my visit, but access to the outside pool, which jutting out on a roof platform, was possible - doing laps while encircled the relatively squat skyscrapers that surround the world’s tallest building was certainly an experience.
What to expect: The Armani Dubai Suite certainly provides all the amenities one might expect of a private home in Dubai, and functions genuinely well as a longer-term residence as well as a sumptuous retreat for long weekends in the city. The spacious marble bathroom has full-sized Armani toiletries with an attractive unisex amber scent, and the separate lavatory adjacent to the gym was welcome for freshening up between workouts. The high-quality Italian-made Marvis toothbrush and toothpaste were great touches.
I groaned when I saw that all the tech in the suite - curtain functions, lighting, music, AC - was controlled through one central iPad, but it was easy to use and functioned without a glitch. I did, however, feel slightly stifled by the lack of outside space in the suite - there was no balcony or space to breathe fresh air, a strange omission considering lower-category suites have this highly desirable feature. The floor to ceiling windows provided expansive views - although given most of the surrounding Downtown district seems to be a semi-permanent building site, they are not the “stunning city views” the suite description promises.
Standout feature: The suite is secluded and utterly silent, providing a space appropriate for working or relaxing.
Not so keen: While the decor was sophisticated and many visitors to Dubai will welcome its restrained alternative to some of Dubai's more boisterously styled rooms, the preponderance of burnished grey and copper in the colour palate sometimes made the whole suite feel a bit gloomy.
Location: The hotel is located within the Burj Khalifa tower in the Downtown district of central Dubai. The hotel has direct access into the Dubai Mall shopping centre - although it is through a rather odd corridor around the side of the entrance to the tower’s “At The Top” viewing platform attraction.
The details: Rooms at Armani Hotel Dubai (+971 4 888 3888) start from AED2,420 per room per night (£513) excluding breakfast at AED160 (£34) per adult. The Armani Dubai Suite is available from AED24,040 per night during low season (£5,100) and AED48,040 (£10,200) in high season. Rate includes breakfast and private return airport transfers.