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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
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Travel to Dubai


A designer palace

1 April 2020

This creekside, neoclassical hotel sits in the heart of Dubai’s newest cultural hub

When Palazzo Versace Dubai first opened in 2016, it’s fair to say it was an outlier on the sweeping curve of Dubai Creek. Four years later, it’s the centrepiece of a hitherto unheralded part of Dubai. Now, its next-door neighbour is the new Jameel Arts Centre and gardens. Yachts at Jaddaf Marina frame the view from one of the sumptuous pools, and families ride bicycles around the waterfront path. Across the road, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, an eye-catching building designed to look like a book, is set to be another cultural destination of note when it opens later this year. Where Palazzo Versace once looked inwards, it now feels comfortable in its space on the Jaddaf Waterfront.

Although, comfortable is probably understating it somewhat. This is, as you’d expect from a place with the Versace name attached to it, an opulent, glitzy experience from the moment you walk into the lobby, with its massive bohemian chandelier, ornate furnishings and – of course – a 1.5m piece mosaic of Gianni Versace himself. The rooms, with more statement Italian furniture and linens, might look ever so slightly renaissance on a flat image, but there’s a sense of space and calm when you’re actually in them that makes everything feel just right, rather than over the top.

That’s the thing about Palazzo Versace. Obviously, there are people here attracted by the brand and grandeur. You might see a Premier League footballer, or Jennifer Lopez – who famously stayed in the “ultra luxurious” Imperial Suite, complete with private pool, terrace and chef. Yet it never feels unfriendly, fussy or indeed prohibitively exclusive. Guests wandering around the hallowed halls and terraces might be dressed in the latest Versace gear purchased in the ground floor shop, or they might be in shorts and a t-shirt on the way to the gym. They could be meeting friends for high tea to a twinkling piano soundtrack in Mosaico, or heading straight to La Piscina for cocktails at the swim-up bar that’s unafraid to blast out the latest tunes. Speaking of music, storied producer Quincy Jones’ first ever bar is here too. Q’s Bar and Lounge has won Best Live Music Bar in Dubai in the past; a lush, intimate space that currently boasts a residency from singer, artist and dancer Rogelio Douglas Jr.

Four years in, there’s a rare balance between luxury and leisure, destination hotel and base for exploration. J.Lo once told us love doesn’t cost a thing… it costs a bit here, admittedly, but it’s easy to fall for Palazzo Versace.

From the concierge

Decadent cocktail hour
A creative homage to the building’s centenary, Pier 42’s cocktail menu is structured around major events that have defined the past ten decades in both Norway and the US. Now you can take your ‘Vigeland Park’ or ‘Discovery of Oil’ libations upstairs with the hotel’s new floating bar service, which brings the mixologist and bespoke oak drinks trolley right to your door.

Sweat it out
It’s no secret that Scandis love a sauna, and the current Oslovian obsession is the floating variety. A five-minute brisk walk from Amerikalinjen is KOK – a 10-person, clean-burning raft sauna. Docked at Langkaia, the backdrop to your chilly dip in the harbour is Oslo’s Opera House, with its famous marble-clad roofscape. For an extra US$31, you can cruise (and steam) in the Oslofjord.

Philanthropic fare
Atlas brasserie isn’t all steak and Caesar salad. In collaboration with Oslo’s Red Cross, the kitchen works with one woman in the local community each season to create ‘Mama’s dish’. Taking inspiration from their home country, you might be treated to a spicy Eritrean heirloom recipe or Kurdish rolled eggplants with ground lamb, originating 3,500 miles away in Northern Iraq.

Words: Sarah Freeman