ME Dubai welcomes guests with a distinctly social vibe, an eclectic selection of food and beverage outlets and, above all, superior design
It is for this reason that while few have the time to pause and admire every form and pattern that makes ME Dubai an architectural beauty, everyone is secretly in awe of it.
ME Dubai was the most anticipated hotel to launch in the UAE when it opened in February 2020 but it perhaps did not bask in the immediate attention it deserved, due to the local and regional lockdowns that followed soon after. Between international border closures and the general malaise surrounding the Covid-19 mindset of travellers and UAE residents alike, ME Dubai lies in wait for the world to experience it in full bloom.
It’s not that the new kid on the block is shying away behind the glossy high-rises of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa District, very much the opposite, in fact. Designed in its entirety by the late British-Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Hadid, the structure that houses the 93-key luxury-lifestyle hotel, stands proud, challenging onlookers to ignore its surreal presence.
The mesmerising Opus development by Omniyat aims to ‘explore the balance between solid and void, opaque and transparent, interior and exterior’ according to the architect’s website and its design was presented by the visionary Zaha Hadid back in 2007.
The location of ME by Melia is ideal if you want to explore central urban Dubai at its best, in close proximity to the world’s tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa as well as the world-famous retail and entertainment venue Dubai Mall, complete with its aquarium, colourful dancing fountains and plethora of food and beverage outlets.
ME Dubai has the distinction of being the only hotel ever to be fully designed both inside and out by the late Zaha Hadid. Covered entirely in reflective glass, the cube-like structure mirrors the colour of the sky on any given day or starry night.
The Opus development contains two towers joined together fluidly by a podium on the ground level and an asymmetrical bridge on the top level, creating a free-form void in the very centre of the structure. The hotel, three floors of expressive Hadid design, is located on the podium level, from the ground up to the edge of the void, which serves as a viewing deck for the hotel’s spa.
ME Dubai offers 74 rooms and 19 suites, including the Chic Suite, Passion Suite, Personality Suite, and the ultra-luxurious Suite ME, which is spread across 198 sq m of opulent space. The spacious pool and wet deck overlooking the Dubai skyline are a great place to spend the days and evenings; the 7,000-sq-m state-of-the-art gym and luxurious spa are must-visits.
At the heart of The Opus by Omniyat, Zaha Hadid’s trademark designs flow boldly through the spectacular lobby area known as The Atrium by Zaha Hadid, the first public area to welcome guests right by the reception area. A great place for light snacks, morning pick-me-ups or afternoon tea, The Atrium by Zaha Hadid is open throughout the day and while the seating is comfortable and stylish, the whole area feels very much like multiple modelling ramps criss-crossing each other for the benefit of the viewer.
Enclosed off from the lobby area is Botanica, an elite green space dedicated to hand-crafted, specialty drinks, made special with a touch of freshly cut herbs and botanicals. Botanica is tastefully decorated with bits and bobs of plants, aesthetically designed like a modern-urban zen space. Light bites accompany the creative beverage menu for a sophisticated yet whimsical experience.
The food and beverage outlets, including The Atrium by Zaha Hadid and Botanica, are in line with ME Dubai’s key theme of social exchange. The place to see and be seen, Deseo is a Latin American-inspired contemporary urban terrace, restaurant and lounge situated beside the modern rooftop pool. Guests can kick-off their evening as the lights dim and, the ambience transforms, bringing live music by resident DJ for a sensational evening of lounging and playful fun.
Central is the hotel’s signature restaurant offering a curious palate of Spanish flavours served with a modern twist creating a truly distinctive dining experience. Situated indoors and overlooking the lobby a few levels down, the outlet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the bar open until late night.
While the spotlight at ME Dubai is clearly on the food and beverage outlets due to the hotel’s social ethos as well as its central location in the Burj Khalifa district, the spa is the true unsung hero of the property. Signature facials, massages to destress and revitalise, and body scrubs form the mainstay of the somewhat limited spa menu and the therapists work their magic effortlessly towards an emotive and fulfilling wellness experience.
The Chic Suite, which we have the opportunity to sample as a family, is an ensemble of soothing midnight blue and fluid designs. A stark contrast with the lobby areas that are dressed in white and cream palates exuding lightness, the Chic Suite captivates due to its choice of dark navy walls and an even darker bathroom.
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer dramatic landscapes framing the city skyline if you are a bit picky about a room with a view. Integrated LED TVs installed with Netflix and other apps, and the Bose sound system make for excellent TV time if you prefer to stay in and zone out of the world.
Measuring about 66 sq m, this expansive suite has a cosy super king-size bed, along with a comfortable sofa-bed for the little ones to snuggle up in. As with any hotel that focuses on design, light is an important element – concealed within nooks and crannies are little light bulbs that can go from fiery red to calming blue and standard white at a flick of a button. The in-room tech is uncompromising as is expected from any new-build luxury hotel these days. A Nespresso machine and a mini bar, along with a cosy sitting area overlooking the city, round up the offerings of the suite.
The spacious bathroom, however, deserves its own mention, designed to look like the inside of a very black spaceship, but melting perfectly into the midnight-blue theme of the suite. With a separate rain shower and a bathtub with Jacuzzi and two washbasins for him and her, the bathroom though dark appears to be almost as large as the bedroom of the suite. On the mirror is a message inscribed from the legendary Zaha Hadid, “I believe in the fantastic” – a belief which is clearly reflected in the suite’s pleasingly asymmetrical design.
ME Dubai, in keeping with the personality-led ethos of the brand, has the makings of the perfect social epicentre of Dubai’s dynamic cultural scene. The hotel aims to bring together music, art, design, fashion and gastronomy in curated experiences that celebrate the latest trends, events and scene leaders shaping the local cultural landscape.
The hotel is primarily an oasis of style, where urbanites come to be seen at their best and to mingle with the best. The brand ME by Meliá is for stylish urbanites interested in enriching, luxury experiences and uncompromising service.
The hotel employs ‘Aura Managers’, whose job it is to know Dubai inside-out across the spectrum of food, events, secret hotspots, fashion and the latest in cultural trends across the emirate.
After all, what stays with the guest long after the check out is not how delicious the tapas were or how skilful the masseuse had been, but stark, unrelenting images of stunning Zaha Hadid design and how good design can truly alter your experience.
– By Rashi Sen
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