First up, Raffles, Dubai. Not only does the beauty of this pyramid structured hotel impress but it is also a very short drive from the airport, which is perfect after a long flight. As always in Dubai the staff cannot do enough for you, the lobby is mesmerizing and the rooms, well, this may be one of the best rooms I have ever stayed in. The room was more like a suite, the bathroom had a separate bath and shower, robes and slippers with an abundance of fluffy towels and products. You could also open the shutters to look through the large window from the bathroom into the bedroom, if you desired. The bed was huge with a large flat screen TV full of English channels, there was a separate seating area with corner sofa and desk and a balcony with the comfiest loungers I have ever experienced in a hotel room.
Again, as with other Dubai hotels the pool area was spotless, calm and relaxing. It wasn't as large as some of the more resort style hotels but it was never busy and you would have no idea you were staying in the middle of the city whilst sitting in this oasis. The staff were attentive bringing water and fresh fruit. The poolside cafe served everything you could need for a lazy lunch, a good caesar salad and ice cream with chocolate sauce, oh and also proper skinny fries! They had a large gym with everything you could require and a beautiful spa with plenty of enticing treatments on offer.
The food choices here are great too. Firstly breakfast is great, a large buffet with lots of options to keep you interested. You can sit inside or outside as well. They have a lovely little cocktail bar (Raffles Garden) on the terrace for the evenings with shisha and live music. Finally the rooftop restaurant with excellent views over the city TOMO dished up some very tasty treats indeed. We also had a "club room", which gave us a couple of hours each evening with alcoholic drinks and canapes, which was a great pre-dinner treat. Afternoon tea was also served and soft drinks were available all day long.
Although this isn't located in the center of Dubai, taxi's here are reasonable so it is possible to make the most of Dubai despite being a little out of the way here. The hotel is beautiful and very relaxing, it is definitely a good option as city hotels go.
Next up is the beach hotel Mina A Salam. Again, they have a gorgeous lobby and you are invited into the air conditioned haven with a lovely welcome drink concoction during check in. Rooms here are large, bathrooms have a separate soaking tub and rain forest shower, double sinks and all the other luxurious amenities expected. Balconies look over the Venice style water ways and the beds are the biggest I have ever seen, you genuinely will lose your companion in the night time.
The hotel is located right on it's own stretch of private beach and has a smaller than expected but very nice pool area with all of the service you would expect (fresh fruit, sorbets, water, cold flannels etc etc) and a full poolside drinks and food menu. You can also wander or take a golf buggy to the massive swimming pool located at the sister hotel Al Qasr. Being part of the Jumeirah group your room will also come with free entry to the water park Wild Wadi, which is well worth an afternoon!
There is a full spa and gym on site but the best part of this hotel is taking the little boats around the hotel and going to the spa, gym, dinner or drinks this way is fun, romantic and makes you feel like you really are staying somewhere very special.
Mina A Salam is connected on foot or by waterway to the fantastic Madinat Jumeirah, which has every kind of bar, restaurant and also plenty of shops set out like a traditional souk on offer. Everything can be signed to your room for your convenience. Our personal favorites during our five night stay were MJ's Steakhouse (self explanatory), The Noodle House (cheap, quick dining) but most of all Pierchic. This was a seafood restaurant situated a little out to sea via a wooden walkway. Here you will be treated like kings and queens, lovely cold towels on arrival, blankets if your cold, gorgeous melt in the mouth seafood, beautiful views of the ocean and chocolates served on dry ice to finish! This really is a romantic treat restaurant, it's expensive but so so worth it for a special occasion! You are in Dubai, go for it!
Deciding between the two is difficult, Raffles is a more boutique, quiet and relaxing but city stay whereas Mina A Salam is a large, busy resort style hotel. If you can, why not mix it up and have a few nights trying both options, then you really can have the best of both worlds.