Dubai’s Newest Sky-High Resort Is a Cantilevered Architectural Wonder

The splashy new One&Only One Za’abeel stands out in a city of over-the-top properties.

Empty lounge chairs on patio, with infinity-edged pool at Tapasake at One&Only One Za'abeel and the city's skyline in background

The infinity-edged pool at Tapasake at One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only One Za’abeel


The vibe: Resort vibes meet sleek city sophistication at Dubai’s newest architecturally ambitious hotel

Location: Street - Za’abeel – Za’abeel 1, Dubai | View on Google Maps

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The AFAR take

Dubai’s luxury hotel scene has been booming in recent years, each newcomer outdoing the previous one. For that reason, many new hotels in the city hardly register a blip these days, but One&Only One Za’abeel isn’t just another debut. Located in the shiny One Za’abeel towers in Dubai’s Za’abeel district, a neighborhood of parks and palaces that hasn’t seen as much development yet as other parts of the city, the hotel is architecturally ambitious. Designed by Japanese architects Nikken Sekkei, the building’s two towers are connected by the world’s longest cantilever, the Link, 750 feet long and suspended more than 300 feet above the ground, topped by a spectacular infinity pool that’s likely to become a coveted hangout spot.

The views from the light-filled rooms and suites provide an education in Dubai’s history and how the city expanded, with Dubai Creek and the older Bur Dubai neighborhoods to the northeast, and the futuristic city—with the silhouettes of the Museum of the Future and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa—stretching away in the opposite direction. Without immediate neighbors obstructing the views, there’s a sense of space that gives the building—and its guests—room to breathe. One&Only One Za’abeel is also home to a collection of stellar restaurants by some of the world’s leading chefs, plus sprawling wellness facilities in partnership with Clinique La Prairie.

The beige living room of a Skyline Suite, with a large chaise longue and a sofa with city views from floor-to-ceiling windows

The living room of a Skyline Suite at the One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only One Za’abeel

Who’s it for?

The hotel bills itself as One&Only’s “first urban vertical resort,” and while it’s certainly resort-y in places, I felt a bit odd padding through some of the more urban areas of the property in flip-flops, caftan, and sunhat, surrounded by suits and crisp kanduras (the Emirati traditional dress) and people power-breakfasting. This is a hotel that sits at the cusp of business and leisure, and it will be interesting to see if it manages to balance both elements or skews more to one than the other.

Business travelers will love it for its convenient location, efficient service, and restaurants that will impress even the most jaded client. But vacationers—and staycationers like me—will love it too. The fourth floor’s Garden Pool, inspired by Balinese rice terraces, is where you really start to feel the resort vibe, with its shady palms, frangipani trees, and macramé parasols. Look up, and One Za’abeel’s dramatic architecture is looming overhead in a thrilling juxtaposition.

There’s also a vacation vibe at the 393-foot, adults-only Tapasake infinity pool on top of the Link. The pool is connected to the Japanese Peruvian restaurant of the same name and is poised to become one of the hottest daytime destinations in town. The pool will have day passes ($270 per person, with $109 of that redeemable on food and beverage), but hotel guests will get priority. It’s worth coming early in the day to snag a front-row seat to take in the views here, which even for me, a long-time Dubai resident, are truly extraordinary. There’s a completely different vantage point up here from other skyscraper hotels, even of familiar sights. I was mesmerized seeing parts of the city from above for the first time, like horse stables, training tracks, and an incongruous herd of cows kept in their own walled paddock.

A Za'abeel King room has a long seating area with pillows next to floor-to-ceiling windows that face Dubai's skyline.

A Za’abeel King room at the One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only One Za’abeel

The location

Dubai is a long, thin city that stretches along a swath of land between sea and desert, and One Za’abeel sits at a conveniently located crossroads of past and future. Dubai International Airport is less than 20 minutes away by car, the Al Fahidi Heritage District is 15 minutes away, Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Mall are a five-minute drive, and the World Trade Centre is a short walk across the street.

Being an urban property, the hotel doesn’t have a beach, but it would take a real sand lover to feel the need to drag themselves away from the Tapasake and Garden pools. The hotel can arrange beach access at sister property One&Only Royal Mirage about half an hour away by car. But for many guests, especially frequent Dubai visitors and staycationers, a stay at One&Only One Za’abeel is likely to be the destination itself, with the restaurants, pools, wellness facilities, and those views providing enough reasons never to venture out.

Without immediate neighbors obstructing the views, there’s a sense of space that gives the building—and its guests—room to breathe.

The rooms

The 229 rooms and suites, designed by Denniston’s Jean-Michel Gathy, have a contemporary elegance, sleek and uncluttered but with a feeling of warmth from textured carpets that feel cozy under the toes and silky-soft bedding. The smallest Za’abeel rooms are generously sized, from 538 to 645 square feet, but if you can stretch to one category higher, the Grand Za’abeel rooms feel like suites without the suite price tag. My Grand Za’abeel room was 807 square feet (some are 904 square feet)—ample space to work and relax, with a light-filled bathroom with a deep-soaking tub next to the window. Custom-blended amenities are by Dubai-born brand Montroi, featuring notes of rose, saffron, and musk inspired by Arabian rooftop gardens.

Rooms face one of two directions, and the views are spectacular from each. But for the full dramatic Dubai experience, ask for a Burj Khalifa–view room for glimpses at the world’s tallest building and spectacular sunsets beyond.

The food and drink

Most of the hotel’s 11 restaurants and bars are more than 300 feet above the ground in the Link, and the lineup is stellar. There are restaurants by prominent international chefs, many with Michelin stars. They include La Dame de Pic by Anne-Sophie Pic, Qabu by Paco Morales, and Sagetsu by Tetsuya Wakuda. At DuangDy, by Bangkok-based culinary duo Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones (better known as Bo.lan), standout dishes include the nahm prik gapi shrimp paste served with knotted green beans and the mushroom and galangal soup—the flavors as pungent as any I ate during my five years living in Thailand.

The outdoor seating areas at Tapasake restaurant, with white sofas shaded by white canvas coverings

Tapasake restaurant at One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only One Za’abeel

The hotel’s main bar, Sphere, sits at the opposite end of the Link, in the stretch of the cantilever that protrudes over the hotel’s main entrance. The central stretch of the Link is taken up by Arrazuna, a contemporary bazaar-meets-luxury-food-hall experience, conceptualized by Finnish Turkish chef Mehmet Gürs, who has a Michelin star for his restaurant, Mikla, in Istanbul. Individual open kitchens serve everything from mezze to seafood, Persian dizi, shawarma, and freshly baked baklava. You can pick up Turkish kitchenware, Syrian olive oil, custom-blended teas, wine, and cheese from the retail areas. There’s also a coffee roastery and handsome copper stills used to distill rose and orange blossom water on site.

In addition to the restaurants at the Link, there are two others located on the fourth floor. I loved my lunch at Andaliman, the hotel’s Indonesian restaurant where flavors are delivered by a mostly Indonesia-born team passionate to share their often overlooked culinary heritage. My Jimbaran-style grilled red snapper was served with sambal made tableside, fried potato cakes came topped with tuna tartare and crab salad, and the Indonesian asinan pindang ceviche was a brilliant blend of sweet and sour flavors and crunchy textures.

Also on the fourth floor is StreetXO, a graffiti- and art-filled venue by Dabiz Muñoz, currently the world’s best chef according to the Best Chef Awards, where global street food meets the irreverent style that has earned him three Michelin stars for his DiverXO restaurant in Madrid.

An evening view of exterior of One&Only One Za'abeel in Dubai

The exterior of One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only One Za’abeel

Spa and wellness

The Longevity Hub by Clinique La Prairie is currently open to hotel guests only; it will be opening to external guests from March 1. The three-floor facility focuses on personalized wellness therapies that dive deep into Clinique La Prairie’s science-based, cutting-edge wellness offerings, beginning with a pretreatment Longevity Index test to determine the body’s needs. A range of treatments, massages and facials are on offer, and on the way are cryotherapy, neuro wave stimulation, and nutrient-rich IV drips, as well as machine-driven aesthetic treatments, light and laser therapy to rejuvenate the skin, and injectable cosmetic treatments like fillers and neuro-relaxants.

Staff and service

When I stayed in late January 2024, the hotel had only been open a few weeks, yet the service felt seamless. Staff are friendly without being forced, welcoming without being obsequious, and everyone I met had a sense of calm, enthusiastic confidence. It’s the type of service that One&Only fans might be familiar with from the brand’s resorts, now transported into an urban setting and delivered by a team of 1,400 staff from 81 different countries.

Every guest room is assigned its own dedicated hosts, who are on hand 24 hours a day via WhatsApp for anything you may need. My hosts, Elisaveta and Valeria, responded immediately to every question I had, from WhatsApping me the spa menu to bringing me a power bank for my phone at lunch and running my bath when I risked checking out of the hotel without a splash in my giant Burj Khalifa–view tub.


There are four accessible Za’abeel and Grand Za’abeel King category guest rooms, and all restaurants are fully accessible. The large scale of the property—wide corridors, spacious public areas—helps guests with limited mobility and wheelchair-users navigate the spaces.

Getting around (without getting lost)

This is a very large property, and getting around can be confusing at times. Elevators don’t always lead where you expect them to, and there’s a lot of transitioning from one to another. Fortunately, there’s always someone on hand to give directions—I’ve rarely seen so many staff in public areas, so you’re unlikely to get too lost. If you forget something in your room, you may face a long trek back to retrieve it, or you can simply call on your hosts, who will deliver it to wherever you are within the hotel.

Writer Nicola Chilton tells the stories of people, places, and unexpected adventures from her home base in Dubai.
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