Airport hotels were once unglamorous, but Hampton by Hilton’s new property in Dubai is changing the game
If you want to be mindful with your spending in 2019 — hear ye, hear ye! You aren’t alone. A happiness survey conducted by the Hampton by Hilton (a leading player in the mid-scale hospitality segment) in the Gulf found that 70 per cent of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) residents look for value over luxury. That means affordable rooms, minus the room service and a great Wi-Fi connection trumps a butler. Not that we would say no to both, of course!
“Globally, we are seeing an incredible need for branded quality mid-scale product. And what I find fascinating is that a lot of consumers who can afford to stay in luxury or full-service hotels are opting not to,” says Shruti Gandhi Buckley, Global Head, Hampton by Hilton. The reason being, she adds, “They would rather spend on experiences.” And we couldn’t agree more.
So when the brand made their debut in the Middle East with Hampton By Hilton Dubai Airport — their largest hotel yet in this segment (420 rooms) — we were pretty excited to get a taste of what Shruti was talking about. And let’s just put it out there, after this visit — the property though tagged an ‘airport hotel’ is far more swank than the association that comes with it.
Take it easy
■ There is a complimentary shuttle service to the Dubai Airport Freezone, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and La Mer Beach.
■ Easy access to Dubai International Airport, all terminals 1, 2 & 3.
■ A digital key feature which enables room access via your cell phone.
There’s a state-of-the-art rooftop gym with a panoramic view of the Dubai skyline, an infinity pool, a fully licensed bar and flexible social and work zones splayed through the lobby. So flexible that Director of Sales, Samarth Bahl, tells us, “You could bring a grab a plate (mid-scale hotel translates to self-service of course) and eat at a seat of your choice, dining is not restricted to the restaurant.”
Which might be a good idea given the madhouse that breakfast (don’t miss the waffles) looks like — the hotel opened in August last year and is already operating at high occupancy. Making the trip as a single woman from India, it’s also empowering to discover that the successful operations are being helmed by the Hilton’s first female General Manager in the Arab peninsula, Nayla Chowdhury, who hails from Bangladesh.
Our personal favourite features experienced during our stay were the digital key feature which enables you to access your room via your cell phone and the locally-inspired artwork in black and white, that was offset by touches of lavender and gold through the modern interiors.
Rooms at AED 310++ onwards.The writer was at the Hampton by Hilton Dubai AAirport byinvitation.
Dubai Diaries: Three experiences you do not want to miss!
Heights of OMG
Sipping on an orange juice, over 2,000 feet above the ground at the Burj Khalifa can be fairly surreal. This is after an epic elevator ride with a climb of 124 floors at 10 metres a second, with dramatic sound and light displays to boot. Once you’re on top, taking in a 360-degree view of the Dubai skyline, perhaps the only thing more exhilarating (or scary) than being that high, is sticking your phone outside the glass panel protection for that perfect (perfectly dangerous) aerial shot. Bonus: Time your visit for the evening so you can spot the famous dancing fountains. We enjoyed a fun sequence of the fountains moving in sync to Michael Jackson’s Thriller!
Hide and souk
No kidding, you could get lost without trying at the extensive Dubai Gold Souk. Of course, there is so much more than gold if you’re in pursuit of unique finds like we were. Camel milk gelato, fake Gucci bags at hush-hush back room stores, spices galore, heady itar scents, lush carpets and exotic lamps —are all available to you, just a bargain away.
I kissed a shark and I liked it
That could be your theme song when you visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Sign up for a once in a lifetime shark dive opportunity which brings you inches away from sharks and rays, a cage snorkelling experience for a dip in the tank or a glass-bottomed boat ride. Sadly, we were on a timeline and had to save our shark date for later, but the simple 48-metre walk-through was magical enough.
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