Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai and Holiday Inn Al Barsha
There are dozens of chain hotels in Dubai to choose from. IHG has a dozen or so, so does Starwood. Marriott has around 10, and Hyatt has 4. Heck, even Club Carlson has around 6 to choose from. Since we wanted to keep our platinum status with Starwood, we opted for the Sheraton Grand Hotel because of it’s central location and low point redemption options.
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Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai and Holiday Inn Al Barsha
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We took the 25 minute taxi ride to the hotel and were taken to the executive lounge to complete our check in. I had communicated via email with the lounge manager before and asked if she would extend us a suite upgrade, so we knew that we had the upgrade before we arrived.
The room was huge, with a bathroom in the entrance, a large seating area, an equally large bedroom, and bathroom with two sinks, rain forest shower, toilet, and soaking tub.
As much as we loved the room, we had to switch after one night. The construction next door goes on 24/7, as does seemingly all construction in Dubai in advance of the Expo in 2020.
The breakfast in the hotel was immense. There were easily a dozen different stations with everything from hot Arabic food to Asian food to omelettes to desserts to breads, etc. It reminded us a lot of the Sheraton in Bali and their IMMENSE breakfast. If you haven’t seen that post yet, take a second and just drool over all the food options that they offer.
The first day we stayed we met a woman named Eustacia from Cape Town. Since we were going to be heading to Cape Town at the end of our trip, we took a moment and asked her for some information. Her name tag said that she was “connected to socializing” so it seemed like a logical fit! The only problem was that we took so much of her time we found her boss looming over her shoulder. Sorry, Eustacia, if you got in trouble, but we appreciate all the advice!
After breakfast we went back to the room and changed into our swim trunks to go to the rooftop pool deck. It was maybe only 75 degrees outside so we just decided to lay in the sun instead of taking a dip in the pool. The rooftop pool (on the 54th floor) had fantastic views all the way downtown and even out to the water. I can imagine that on a hot summer day, this pool would be the place to be! There was a member of staff on duty to offer drinks or food (at what I’m sure was a ridiculously high price, as are most things in Dubai)
Just a quick mention to the lounge. The windows in the lounge are easterly facing, and so that means in the morning it gets HOT. VERY HOT. We went into the lounge to check out the breakfast selection (as breakfast is free in the lounge if you have access, but usually limited) and when we did, the heat was unbearable. Considering it was only 70 degrees outside, I can’t imagine what this must be like in the summer.
We stopped back in the afternoon for some canapés and drinks and by this time the people had left and the AC had kicked in. The temperature was much more manageable, and it was nicer with just a few people around.
Holiday Inn Al Barsha Hotel
We chose to spend one night at the Holiday Inn for two reasons. First, it was about 20 minutes closer to Abu Dhabi (where we were leaving for Egypt the next day) and since we were once again wanting to have a stay for the IHG Accelerate Promotion, this one was a good value for the money.
The hotel check in was rather uneventful, and we were told that we did indeed have an upgrade processed as a Platinum member with IHG. The room was located on the first floor, and on the way to our room we passed the men’s prayer room and the women’s prayer room. Also inside each bedroom was a mat in case you wanted to pray in your room including signs on the way indicating the direction of Mecca.
The room was fairly basic with a small desk and coffee/tea set.
Next, a small love seat and seating area complete with TV.
There was a bathroom in the guest area outside of the bedroom which was basic and functional.
The bedroom was pretty nice, with the colors muted and warm. I really liked the decorations. The bathroom was large with a shower tub combo and double sinks.
The best part about this hotel, however, is probably the rooftop bar. It offered excellent view of the Burj al Arab and downtown to the Burj Khalifa.
It was also just a quick 7 minute walk to the Ski Dubai and the Dubai Mall (where you can buy a gold and diamond studded iPhone case for only $2,747!
It should also be noted that some chains are rebranded outside of the USA. Notice for example that Church’s Chicken is called “Texas Chicken.”
The mall puts on good shows every hour, and since we were in celebration of the Chinese New Year, there was an awesome dance show.
I must have asked a half a dozen people before we left for Dubai about where the best hotel was. To be honest, each hotel does all it can to get people and their money. Since the taxi cabs and ubers are so cheap, you can pretty much stay anywhere and get to where you need to go for dirt cheap. My suggestion is if you have a chain you like to stay with, do it. Your hotel really isn’t the destination, but the city is. Get out and explore Dubai!