Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Keri Stooksbury
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Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, has become world-famous in recent decades for its rapid population growth, its glitzy skyline (which includes the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building), the lavish lifestyle it offers many of its residents, world-class shopping and dining, and an ever-growing list of glamorous attractions built specifically for tourists.
The city’s been on my travel wishlist for quite some time, though it had never quite worked out. Finally, however, that was set to change when I was invited to a friend’s wedding in India, and I found myself with a couple of days in the United Arab Emirates before heading to India.
The city is also known for opulent and luxurious hotels, which was certainly intriguing once I knew I’d be spending 2 nights there. Unfortunately, cash prices were very high across the city, so I turned to using points to see if I could score a solid redemption.
I had used the lion’s share of my Marriott Bonvoy points balance for other stays throughout my monthlong trip, but I knew I had a free night reward with Hilton that needed to be put to use, as well as a decent stash of Hilton Honors points that I could leverage.
Hilton has a strong presence across Dubai, with many of its brands represented. Of course, I looked immediately toward the high end of the Hilton spectrum, as a stay at a luxury brand would yield the most value for my certificate and my points.
Naturally, I thought of Conrad, LXR Hotels and Resorts, and Waldorf Astoria, as they are Hilton’s top brands. Unsurprisingly in a city like Dubai, all 3 brands have a presence, but the one that stuck out to me was the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, thanks to its resort-like nature — and it was the highest priced out of all the options for my dates.
Knowing that I’d get solid value for my points and certificate at this property, I went ahead and booked myself a 2-night stay to begin my whirlwind trip around the globe.
Continue reading to see what this property was like and what you can expect if you have an upcoming stay.
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah‘s location is at once its greatest asset and its biggest drawback, which I’ll explain in a moment.
The property is — as its name would suggest — on the Palm Jumeirah, a manmade cluster of islands in the shape of a palm off the coast of Dubai.
I took an Uber from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to the hotel, which took about 40 minutes and cost me around $45 one-way. As I quickly learned, traffic in Dubai can be quite a nightmare, so don’t be surprised if it takes you more time than that.
Now to my thoughts on the hotel’s location. I think, as a first-time visitor to Dubai, it wasn’t ideally located. The Palm is quite a way from many of the city’s most famous attractions like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Creek/Old Dubai, some of the most popular beaches, and more.
The hotel is located on the far end of Palm Jumeirah, which meant it was at least a 15-minute car ride from the hotel entrance to the mainland, and from there at least another 20 minutes (or much more with traffic) to many of the sights I saw. Long story short, I spent a lot of time in — and money on — Ubers in just the couple of days I was in town.
However, this location has its positives, as well. Being at the far edge of the Palm, the hotel feels like a proper resort, thanks to its waterfront location and multiple pools. If I were a repeat visitor to Dubai or a traveler who lived closer to the city and who wanted a sunny, warm vacation, this Waldorf Astoria would be perfect.
I just felt like I maybe should have picked a property closer to the bulk of the city’s attractions for my first visit to the city. Despite all of that, though, I did enjoy the resort very much and was thankful I had a place to relax and recharge poolside after a long 2 days of travel prior to arriving.
I did an award search online and found standard award availability for both nights I required at a rate of 85,000 Hilton Honors points per night. I immediately placed a call to Hilton so they could apply my certificate to 1 night (Hilton free night rewards still require a call, but it’s never been anything other than pleasant in my experience) and points for the other.
In the past when I’ve done this, agents have created 2 separate reservations, but this time they were both on 1, which was nice since I wouldn’t need to link the reservations and run the risk of having my keys deactivated after the first night, which has happened to me and can be frustrating.
Had I decided to pay cash, I would have had to fork over $530 per night, so I gladly redeemed the certificate and points to keep that money in my pocket for spending at a later date (thankfully, not all of it went to my Dubai Uber bill).Hot Tip:
I used my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for my incidentals. This card comes with a laundry list of perks, including the annual free night certificate I used to book 1 of the nights at this property, automatic Hilton Honors Diamond elite status, an annual $400 resort credit ($200 semiannually) that can be applied to any purchases made on the property at specific hotels Hilton considers resorts, and more.
Luckily, the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah qualifies for the resort credit, which meant that I had $200 to spend while on the property.
After marveling at the sights of Dubai through the window of my Uber, I arrived at the Waldorf Astoria. A bellman from the hotel met me under the porte-cochère and whisked my bags away. He asked for my name and directed me to the check-in desk, where there was just 1 other guest in front of me.
In just a couple of minutes, I was handing my passport and Hilton Aspire card to the friendly agent who began to run through the details of my stay.
She explained that though I had booked a King Superior Room, she had put me in a King Deluxe Room that boasted views of both the water and the city skyline, which I gladly accepted.
She also explained where I could go each morning to take advantage of my free breakfast, awarded me a bonus of 1,000 Hilton Honors points for being a Diamond member, and asked if I required a late checkout, which I did not, as I was departing from Dubai in the morning a couple of days later.
After this quick and friendly check-in experience, I took a look around the lobby, which was grand and opulent, just as I was expecting in a city like Dubai.
The lobby flowed over to the floor below via an ornate staircase that twisted around imposing columns.
Soon after, I was on my way to my room and ready to hit the pool for some much-needed relaxation.
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is a full-fledged resort, so there’s plenty on offer to keep guests occupied during their stays. In fact, I can confidently say that you wouldn’t need to leave the property during your stay if you really didn’t want to.
Here’s a look at what the property offers.
The property offered 2 pools to guests during my visit — 1 for families and 1 for adults only. The family pool was in the center of the property toward the beachfront. It sat at the end of a beautifully polished marble walkway that extended from the hotel building, accented with a pair of fountains and perfectly manicured palm trees. It had undoubtedly made for many a great photo op.
On either side of the walkway toward the pool were the outdoor dining terraces for 2 of the on-property restaurants.
In addition, there was a lawn, where the resort had a few games set up, including darts, table tennis, and foosball.
This pool was in a beautiful freeform shape with plenty of large, padded loungers dotting the edges.
Set into the right side of the pool were several “floating” dining tables that you could rent for private meals.
I noticed that the family pool didn’t feel particularly busy when I was passing through on my way to the adults pool, so I assumed the situation would be the same over there.
The adults-only pool, however, felt much more busy to me. It was a simple rectangle with multicolored blue tiles that made the water shimmer beautifully.
Just like the family pool, the deck was full of large, comfortable loungers under sizable umbrellas, which were needed to shield against the hot desert sun.
At first, the pool attendant told me there wasn’t a seat available, so I figured I’d just head back to the family pool. However, just a few moments later, he came back to me and said a spot had opened up, so I took him up on his offer and sat down in the row second closest to the pool.
I settled in and enjoyed a few hours of the warmth and sun and had lunch before heading to the beach for a little while longer.
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is located on the Persian Gulf, but because the Palm itself is manmade, so is the resort’s beach.
The resort’s waterfront faced inward toward the Palm, which made it feel less like a Persian Gulf beach and more like a manmade lake of sorts. However, that also meant it was calmer for swimming and other activities.
The beach offered fun for guests of all ages, including a small inflatable waterpark-type structure, Jet Ski rentals, parasailing, a range of watersports, and more.
I decided to visit the beach after I lost the sun at my seat at the pool. The area was pretty busy with a lot of families enjoying the waterfront, but I was still attended to promptly and got myself set up on a chair for some more relaxation.
The Waldorf Astoria Spa is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offers everything you could ask for at a high-end resort. It has 12 treatment rooms, 2 couples suites, several Jacuzzis, saunas, herbal steam rooms, and more. In addition, guests can book a hammam experience, facials, massages, wellness experiences, and other services.
The fitness center at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is open 24 hours a day.
When I was there, it offered a nice variety of state-of-the-art workout equipment, including cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights.
A yoga studio was available, as well.
Guests visiting the gym could help themselves to towels (cold ones, too!) and water near the entrance.
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah has a tennis court on the property. You must make reservations with the front desk. You can rent equipment and arrange private or semi-private lessons.
This Waldorf Astoria has a helipad on the property. Yes, that’s correct! However, as you’d imagine, access is limited to those who have access to a helicopter — I wasn’t able to get close enough to even see it, unfortunately.
Parking at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah is valet-only. It’s complimentary, excluding tips.
I found the Wi-Fi to be strong throughout the property, even out at the beach. It maintained a connection to the network throughout my stay, as well.
Pets aren’t allowed at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah.
As I mentioned earlier, I received a (small) upgrade to a King Deluxe Room with a view of the water and the skyline. Despite not receiving a suite upgrade, my room felt palatial, and I loved it. Let’s take a look at what it was like.
I opened my door into a long foyer. On the left side were the walk-in closet and the bathroom, while the right side had some artwork and a small desk. The desk had a mirror, so it could be used for working or as a vanity.
The walk-in closet was large and paneled in a beautiful dark wood. It had all the requisite features, including a safe, iron, and ironing board, and some extras, like slippers.
The foyer opened up into a large bedroom that held an opulent, king-size bed with a sofa at its foot.
In front of the sofa was a large coffee table.
After returning to my room for the first time, I was greeted with a welcome gift that consisted of a fruit bowl and a box of chocolate truffles.
In the corner of the room was a large desk and a comfortable chair that would’ve been suitable for working from or having an in-room meal.
Across from the bed was the room’s media unit, which also served as storage and the minibar. I thought the TV was kind of small for how large the room was, but I didn’t use it at all, so it was no big deal.
Beside the TV was the room’s Nespresso machine.
Coffee pods and tea were in the drawers just below the TV, as were mugs and glassware.
Below that were a few snacks and a bottle of wine for purchase. I was very tempted by the gummy bears, but I held back.
The minifridge was stocked with quite a bit of alcohol, but there were some soft drinks and water, as well. Thankfully, housekeeping kept my room stocked with plenty of water, so I didn’t have to buy any from the minifridge.
Nightstands next to the bed featured controls for the room’s lighting and a U.K.-style outlet for charging, which is standard across the UAE.
The room’s view was arguably its best feature — it looked out across the Persian Gulf and onto Dubai’s iconic skyline, with the Burj Al Arab (the world’s only so-called 7-star hotel) in the foreground and downtown Dubai — including the Burj Khalifa — in the background.
It was an incredible view to behold at any time of day.
There was a large terrace to enjoy as well, equipped with a small sofa, 2 chairs, and a small coffee table.
This was a great room for my 2-night stay. It was spacious, full of light, supremely comfortable, and high-end. Perhaps the design didn’t reflect the latest trends, but, regardless, it was a luxurious stay, and I had 2 nights of excellent sleep.
The bathroom was very large and bright and covered from top to bottom in white marble, giving it an appropriate feel for a bathroom in a luxury Middle Eastern hotel.
There was a double vanity that was predominantly white marble with some gold flourishes. It was stocked with luxurious Aesop amenities.
There was a separate soaking tub underneath a window looking into the bedroom. And there was a TV built into the mirrored wall opposite the tub!
The shower was plenty large and had both a rainfall and handheld showerhead. I took many showers during my 2-night stay because it was so hot in Dubai and I loved having a top-tier shower to look forward to.
The shower amenities were also from luxury brand Aesop — predictably, they smelled great.
Finally, there was a separate water closet that had the bathroom’s toilet and bidet.
I loved all the space I had in this bathroom, and I especially appreciated the great shower!
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah boasts 6 restaurants and bars. I had dinner plans both nights I was in the city, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to try them all.
Here’s a look at what I did experience and what else you can expect.
Mezzerie is the resort’s all-day full-service restaurant, with buffets on offer at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I didn’t eat here for lunch or dinner, but it’s where breakfast was served each morning, so I visited twice during my stay.
The breakfast buffet was expansive, with a nice mix of Western and Middle Eastern options.
There was a bread station that featured everything from standard toast options to bagels, focaccia rolls, and even jumbo pretzels.
Next to that was an entirely gluten-free bread station — great news for travelers with a gluten intolerance!
Cheeses and cold cuts were available in a climate-controlled case.
Then there was the pastry station, which I spent a lot of time exploring. There were Danishes, pancakes, waffles, French toast, several flavors of croissants, pain au chocolat, and much more.
My favorites were the Danishes and the manakish — Middle Eastern flatbread “pizzas” topped with za’atar and cheese. These were truly delicious … I had multiple slices of each flavor.
There was a made-to-order egg station, where I ordered an omelet filled with vegetables. I saw other guests ordering poached eggs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and more.
Perhaps my favorite part of the buffet was the station that had a range of Middle Eastern dips like hummus and labneh, in addition to a range of salads (including fattoush, my favorite!), nuts, and dried fruits.
Then there was a dedicated shakshuka setup, with a whole range of toppings.
Catering to Western guests, there was an area featuring pork products.
There weren’t just Western or Middle Eastern foods, though. The buffet even boasted an Asian section where you could make your own noodle soup, in addition to a few varieties of dim sum.
Let’s not forget the fruit, either, of which there was plenty.
Finally, onto the beverages. There was a station set up with a juicer and a single pitcher of a carrot, pineapple, orange, and ginger juice blend.
I thought I was going to have a glass or 2 of this until I turned around and saw the other juices available. There was mint lemonade, which sealed the deal for me.
There was also a cart serving barista-made coffees, including espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and more.
Middle Eastern food is one of my favorites, so I thrived at this breakfast buffet each morning — and it was made that much better by the fact that it was included with my stay, thanks to my Hilton Honors Diamond status!
Mezzerie was open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner.
Palm Avenue is the resort’s poolside dining option that serves up California-inspired food with delicious cocktails. It also transforms into a shisha bar at night.
During my afternoon at the pool and beach, I ordered twice from Palm Avenue. Right after I was seated, the pool attendant brought me a bucket filled with ice and water bottles, as well as a metal tag with a QR code on it.
Once I scanned it, I was able to order food and drinks directly to my chair without ever having to flag down a server. It was a great system, and my orders came promptly and correctly every time.
First, I ordered a chicken quesadilla (about $19), which was served with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. It was very, very tasty and exactly what the doctor ordered after a couple of very long travel days. I just wish it had been larger.
When I moved to the beach a couple of hours later, I decided to have a cocktail. I chose the Palm Sunset (about $20), which was made with Campari, white rum, lemon juice, lychee, and pineapple juice. Also delicious! I definitely could have had a few more.
Palm Avenue was open daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and for shisha service from 7:15 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Social is the resort’s Italian restaurant, helmed by Chef Carmine Faravalo. I wasn’t able to try it during this stay, but it’s open for dinner daily from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
LAO is a restaurant that celebrates Southeast Asia, with dishes inspired by several countries in the region. It’s open daily for dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Peacock Alley is the Waldorf’s lobby bar, and it’s open all day for various services, including high tea.
It’s named after the Peacock Alley that was found in the former Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and has an elegant, Old World style.
It also has an outdoor terrace, with stunning views of the property and loads of comfy furniture on which you can relax and enjoy a cocktail, your high tea service, or even some shisha in the evening.
I tried to make it to Peacock Alley for a drink before dinner on my second night in the city, but it didn’t work out, as the traffic was so bad that I needed to leave much earlier than I’d anticipated. But it looked like a beautiful and relaxing place to hang out.
Peacock Alley’s opening hours were as follows:
Sunset 55 is a “bohemian” beach club on the hotel’s grounds that serves up drinks and bar snacks in a lively atmosphere with performances from a DJ and a guitarist. It’s open daily from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
I didn’t even notice Sunset 55 until I was asked if I had visited while I was checking out, so I’ve added it to my list for next time.
Serafina is a bar inspired by the Italian Renaissance.
It features sumptuous decor with blown-glass chandeliers and rich furniture. It serves Italian-themed cocktails, small plates, and cigars. Serafina was open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Room service is available 24 hours a day, and the in-room dining menu can be found online.
As would be expected at a property of this caliber, the service was great. I interacted most with the pool attendants and servers. I also regularly chatted with the bellmen while I waited for ride-shares to pick me up. All those interactions were overwhelmingly positive, and every person was eager to help me out in any way I needed. They were eager to hear about where I was from and my further travel plans, as well.
But it wasn’t just them — everyone I interacted with at this property was friendly, professional, and helpful. It certainly met my expectations for a 5-star resort.
I had a great stay at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah. Despite the resort being a bit far from the action in Dubai, I loved the property. I don’t know if I’d suggest it to someone visiting the city for the first time, because of its location, but if you’re looking for a relaxing, high-end resort stay where relaxation and pampering are of the utmost importance — and if you want to use points — you won’t be disappointed with this Waldorf Astoria.
And, now that I’ve been to the city, I can return to this property for a vacation exactly like that.
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah opened to guests in 2014.
That depends on the objective of your vacation. If you’re a first-time visitor to the city who wants to see all the sights, it may be worth considering another property closer to what you want to see. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing resort stay, you can’t go wrong at this Waldorf Astoria.
Yes, Waldorf Astoria is one of Hilton’s most upscale and iconic hotel brands.
Yes. The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah participates in the Hilton Honors program, which means you can earn and redeem Hilton Honors points for stays. Expect award nights to cost at least 85,000 Hilton Honors points.
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