Beloved by artists and curators attending the annual Art Dubai fair, XVA Art Hotel wraps around the three courtyards of the restored 19th-century home of the Seddiqi family, prominent traders who became the emirate’s Rolex dealers. Longtime resident Mona Hauser, founder and owner of the XVA Gallery of contemporary art, decorated each second-floor room of the traditional wind tower house in collaboration with a regional artist or designer such as Nada Debs, a Lebanese maker of custom shell inlaid furniture. The on-site alfresco vegetarian lounge café—praised by chef Gordon Ramsay as his favorite Dubai eatery—is a hangout for independent travelers and resident creatives who linger over mint lemonade, salads, soups, and cheesecake. No pool or gym, but the spa has one treatment room offering massage, manicure and pedicure (services also available in the guest rooms). There is a running trail along Dubai Creek and the hotel can recommend nearby beaches, and fitness centers at all price points.
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The hotel sits amid Al Fahidi, the oldest part of Dubai, where maritime traders built wind towers and courtyard houses along Dubai Creek under the protection of the 18th-century Al Fahidi fort, now a museum, built by Dubai’s first ruler. Within the maze of alleys and restored houses lie more art galleries, museums, and the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding; the quarter is the site of a monthly Saturday flea market. Then there's Dubai’s still-functioning Textile Souk, as well as a station for water taxis headed for the dhow port and the Gold and Spice souks. Across the creek, Shabestan (at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek) serves authentic Persian cuisine with water views. At the Fish Market restaurant, a devoted local following of diners choose sustainably caught Gulf fish from a market display, and the fish is then cooked to order.
Need to Know
Rooms: 13 rooms, from $204. Check-in: 1 p.m.; check out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The hotel houses the indoor-outdoor Middle Eastern vegetarian SVA Café; no alcohol is served. Gym and spa details: There is no gym, spa, or pool, but the hotel’s location in the historic Al Fahidi district is ideal for strolling.
Who’s it for: Independent travelers who can do without hotel amenities like a gym or room service, and who want to explore the city through the eyes of local artists and collectors. Our favorite rooms: All 13 rooms have been renovated in the past year and are filled with a mix of contemporary art and decor inspired by local themes—for example, henna, Emirati women’s house dresses, and a man’s dishdasha. We love the Gallery Room, decorated with work by 10 XVA Gallery artists. Local resource: Hotel and gallery owner Mona Hauser is a warm and generous source of intel on the Gulf art scene and on which Al Fahidi district jewelers and tailors can whip up custom items.