Photo courtesy of Dar al Masyaf & Malakiya Villas at Madinat Jumeirah
Dar al Masyaf & Malakiya Villas at Madinat Jumeirah
At the end of a white-sand beach, away from the package-tour and convention crowds, Dar al Masyaf is a tranquil boutique hotel within the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah complex of seaside resorts and a shopping souk modeled after a traditional Arabian walled city. It's all set next to the Persian Gulf coastline within a Venetian-style network of man-made canals. Rooms, served by butlers, are accessible by footpath and electric dhow and occupy 29 two-story courtyard houses with the same traditional wind tower architecture and calm vibe of the resort’s shared Talise Spa. Closer to the resort water park are the seven freestanding Malakiya Villas, with huge marble bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens for family life. Getting in and out of the resort grounds, whose more than 40 bars and restaurants are a Dubai nightlife beacon, can mean negotiating a madhouse traffic jam of taxis and high-end sports cars. But noise does not penetrate the rooms, the palm-backed beach is large enough for guests to find private space, and evening terrace views of wind tower lights reflecting in the canals can be enchanting.
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The attached souk is heavy on beachwear and Oriental tourist kitsch. It serves hotel guests mainly as a vast food court to which locals come in the evening for cocktails and happy hours. Families head for the Wild Wadi water park, and couples celebrating special occasions go to dinner or tea at the Burj al Arab. The nearest actual full-service shopping center, Mall of the Emirates, with its famed indoor ski slope, is a 10-minute shuttle or taxi ride away. From there visitors can catch the metro to other parts of the city. The business district on Sheikh Zayed Road is a good 20 minutes by taxi.
Need to Know
Rooms: 283 rooms, 7 villas; from $294 per room, $2,725 per villa. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Representing nearly every cuisine imaginable, the resort’s more than 40 restaurants and bars are distributed among four hotels, along the canals, on the beachfront, and in the Madinat Souk. Try Segretto for modern Italian, and Pai Thai for classic, fresh Thai dishes on a calm canal terrace. Gym and spa details: The expansive Talise Spa has 26 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms; massages can also be booked in beach cabanas. The spa fitness center offers a health food cafe, gym, yoga pavilion, and private spa swimming pool.
Who’s it for: Families and business travelers who want a beach location and the ease of self-containment. Our favorite rooms: Arabian Villa rooms, overlooking the canals away from the beach, feel more private. Summertime Villa rooms have direct beach access and sea views. Book ahead: Ask for a villa or room near an abra (water taxi) station in hot months for quick access to the restaurants and souk. Those who book during the low season (April through September) may be able to negotiate complimentary half-board in the room rate.