When the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach opened in November 2014, everyone who’s anyone was there, from sheikhs to diplomats to the most glamorous Emirati socialites. Servers wearing diamond-encrusted headpieces flanked each side of the main entrance, where circus performers—including men on stilts—welcomed Dubai’s best. The property was covered with Cirque du Soleil-type acrobats and fireworks shot into the sky at the end of the night.
The decadence shouldn’t surprise you. Dubai is one of the most extravagant destinations in the world, where the average driver can be found in a Ferrari and diamonds are everyone’s best friends. Four Seasons, one of the most luxurious hotel brands, fits in perfectly, but surprisingly the resort at Jumeirah Beach is their first in the UAE city. The 237-room hotel on 885 feet of natural beach didn’t disappoint on opening night, but what’s it like on a regular day? Not much different—minus the circus acts.
Four Seasons picked a hotel-free zone to mark their territory. However, the experience is just as grand as any hotel on the Palm Islands. As you go through a residential and somewhat dumpy area—Dubai’s “dumpy” is perfectly nice by American standards—and turn into a driveway, you’ll notice a parking-lot structure (which is actually the property’s dining complex). You’re not in the wrong place, keep going up to the geometrical structure with straight lines and flat roofs. As you stand under the lantern-lit gazebo that leads to the lobby, you’ll realize this hotel is anything but average.
With a massive mosque-like dome in the lobby above a Seguso glass balustraded grand staircase, the hotel’s Arabic-meets-Mediterranean design might make your jaw drop and hit the marble floor or Oriental carpets. Walk through the many high-ceilinged lounge areas surrounded by floor to ceiling windows facing the beach and down the keyhole-carved arched hallways to find a room that will continue to astonish.
The hotel is arranged in a widened U shape and consists of 237 guest rooms—49 of which are suites—and 10 restaurants. The accommodations range in size from 753 square feet to 6,458 square feet, which is the Royal Suite. No matter which room you choose, you get a full marble bathroom, views of the Burj Khalifa or the Arabian Gulf, customizable beds with leather headboards, and walk-in closets you’ll want to sleep in. With silver-leafed ceilings and Murano glass fixtures, the bathrooms will sparkle no matter what you do in them.
Between the stand-alone building with five designer dining and entertainment venues (AKA the parking complex), two outdoor pools, a rooftop bar with Dubai’s best skyline view, and the golden showers (not the gross kind) in the Pearl Spa, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this place extra special. However, the design is what stood out consistently during my stay. The plates and pool tiles have real gold details, the Mercury Lounge features a glass sphere that acts as a sitting area and is surrounded by pillared horseshoe-arched pods that glow as the sun sets over the Burj Khalifa, and the faceted dome never gets old, no matter how many times you walk through the lobby. These and more design details combine to create a hotel that goes above and beyond to fit into its surroundings, and in doing so, only stands out.
You might notice hordes of women going to the building on the left of the hotel. That’s because the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach is located directly next to the Dubai Ladies Club. Here, Emirati women can ditch their hijab and don a swimsuit while frolicking in the ocean freely because men are not allowed on the property. Chances are you won’t see much though, as they made sure the walls were high enough to keep the privacy in tact. You will also find many strip malls lining the roads near the hotel and upscale residential homes. While not much is within walking distance, as of now the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach is the closest you can get to the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai without leaving the beach.
Maggie Parker is the assistant travel editor for Paste Magazine.