Inner-city Resort Living

It’s rare for a hotel to draw both young professionals and families, but the towering landmark of Hilton Al Habtoor City, on the banks of Dubai Water Canal, does exactly this, writes Yvonne Kerr

A union of three Al Haboor City hotels in Business Bay, including the Hilton Al Habtoor City, offers such eclectic attractions as the dramatic La Perle by Dragone aqua show, a collection of high-quality restaurants, the UAE’s first air-conditioned indoor tennis court, a Kids Club and family pool area, a spa, beauty salon, a 24-hour gym with personal trainers and even a yoga studio, plus a shuttle to the beach and Dubai Mall. Amid all of this, singles, couples and families mingle easily and happily as they relax in their choice of these distinctive, bespoke zones.

We’re here for a free brunch. Well, not exactly. We’re here so our child can enjoy a free brunch (as can every other child up to 12 years old), so that we can hopefully (ambitiously, naively?) relax while he plays in the supervised children’s play area. Amazingly, we get the odd 10-15 minute reprieve of adult-only conversation in between him running out to show us the coaster that he makes at the art workshop, or to present his latest sugary find, from a green cake to a red cake to a blue cake. I suspect the quiet time coincided with him discovering one of two large-screen movie corners for kids.

Little people aside, The City Brunch at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City offers an abundant feast that’s captivating enough to sate any grown up appetite, palate or desire with more than 15 live cooking stations championing dishes from India to Japan to Korea to America. The BBQ section presents six cuts of steak, a leg of lamb, roast chicken and herb crusted salmon alongside a jaw-dropping spread of 30 sauces, gravies, jus and mustards. We started with a perfectly divine plate of fresh sushi and sashimi with ginger, soy and wasabi. Resisting the urge to order lobster to our table, we could not pass the sumptuous chicken or seafood dumplings and Peking duck pancakes from the Asian station, where you could create your own soup, adding fresh vegetables and noodles to a bubbling hot chicken or vegetable broth. Fish lovers are in heaven, with 10 types of smoked salmon and French oysters, as are vegans and vegetarians.

I could go on but that would leave less room to brag about the tables upon tables of dessert. It was a bonanza of scrumptious sugar and spice, so many treats in all configurations and casts, large and small, layered and iced and coated in a most fantastic array of hues and stains and pigments and artistic flair.  In fact, more than 30 types of cakes and pastries are presented among many sorbets and ice creams and custards. Yes, I counted.

We then rolled out the door to our room to nap the evening away. Only joking. We have two small kids…

Our room offered a memorable, expansive view over fishing and tourist boats cruising along the Dubai Water Canal and the many al fresco cafés lining its waterfront 44 floors below, across to Dubai’s unmistakable marker, the Burj Khalifa, as many rooms and suites at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor do. The more family-friendly offering of the three hotels boasts the complementary Kids Club. This spacious, brightly coloured room (pictured below) is divided into individual play areas, from board games and books in one corner, to a floor-to-ceiling stack of toys, to a TV room with a Playstation and wall-to-wall bean bags. The Club includes a fully-equipped kitchen; a useful addition as any parent will know. Each toilet incorporates mini facilities for little ones of toilet training age. Not to overlook a shallow kids’ pool where youngsters can splash about (just in case they are dissatisfied with the other four rooftop pools).

One night was barely enough. There really is so much to do and sample in this lifestyle resort in the middle of Business Bay. The other standout during our brief stay was the impeccable service; two waiters in particular at brunch, who seemed to be right there at the exact second that I dropped my fork or my son’s pacifier. And when my newborn started to cry, one waiter even went out of his way to step in and rock the pram back and forth. That’s going above and beyond, in my opinion.

The City Brunch at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City offers more than 15 live cooking stations and a children’s play area.

The hotel also offers a Kids Club and four rooftop pools.


Up to two children aged 12 and below eat free with each paying adult at The City Brunch and weeknight theme dinners from 7-10pm Sunday-Thursday, Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 435 5577)

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