Staycation at Manzil Downtown Dubai

Playing tourist in my own city, the family and I headed out for a staycation at Manzil Downtown last weekend. Located at the heart of Downtown Dubai, just a stone’s throw away from The Dubai Mall and closeup views of the iconic Burj Khalifa, Manzil Downtown is the perfect choice for tourists and residents alike.

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‘Manzil’ translates to ‘home’ in Arabic, and with its minimalist design accentuated with Arabesque decor, this hotel is an ideal place to unwind. Despite being a long-term resident of Dubai, Manzil Downtown made us forget we are in the center of the city. The ambiance is one of serenity and calm, and the staff are well versed, efficient, and very hospitable.

We arrived at the hotel an hour before the regular 3 pm check-in time, but the reservation desk were kind enough to allow us room access beforehand. At the reception, guests can also help themselves to chilled juices and nibbles.

 

The access card to our room operates the elevator going up, a clever security feature allowing only guests to have access to the hotel floors.

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Ours was a Deluxe Room featuring a comfy queen-sized bed with gorgeous Arabic calligraphy on the headboard. The room also includes a very comfy lounger and footstool, a study desk and a corner with tea and coffee amenities. There are two double-door wardrobes stocked with bath robes, slippers a safe and a mini fridge. They even have an ironing board and hair dryer should you need it. Forgot your chargers? If you are an iPhone or Samsung user, the reception has got you covered!

 

A lovely little souvenir sat on the table by the sofa. This cute little keepsake is a miniature shisha that can actually be used! And mines a pretty girly pink 🙂 Thank-you Manzil!

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Our bellboy Jesse is a real charmer. We met him at the reception, and he helped us with our luggage. Once we settled into the room, he gave us a brief tour on the facilities. The most impressive of all is the 42 inch smart TV.

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The screen had a personalized ‘Welcome to Manzil’ greeting, and apart from having super smooth internet connection allowing for onscreen browsing and YouTube access, the Manzil homepage has a smiley and frown icon that a room guest can click at any point in time. If you click of the frown button (which I never got an opportunity to do so), you get an immediate call from the reception checking in to see what the issue is. Now that’s what I call service!

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Booking a room at Manzil Downtown can also be very educational! I spotted a few Arabic words with their English translations on the accessories 🙂

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Manzil is Arabic for ‘Home’
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‘Naeiman’, an after-shower greeting!
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‘Tartieb’ means ‘Please Make My Room’, and ‘Hudu’ is ‘Do Not Disturb’ (Kinda sounds like my name spelt wrongly!)
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More words to learn!

 

The room has a good deal of natural lighting which makes it appear even more spacious than it is. Almost half the room space is taken up by the bathroom. Sleek and modern, the bathroom fittings are all chrome and dark marble. The toilet and shower are in separate closed off cubicles, but the bath tub and basin can clearly be seen through the glass walls from the bedroom area.

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In tune with modern architecture, the bathroom is also missing a door. Given we had our 5 year-old with us, I could only enjoy a long hot soak in the tub after she was tucked into bed. I could see the beauty of the twinkling city lights from my tub itself; a truly relaxing vantage point of the city!

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By day, the scenery takes on another form of beauty all together. The Arabesque style architecture of the neighbouring Downtown buildings makes you feel like you are glimpsing into another time and place. And then you see The Dubai Mall on the other side of the road, the largest retail offering in the world! If I crane my neck out of the side of my balcony, I can even see the Burj Khalifa.

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We got to see more of the Burj Khalifa during our evening soiree on the terrace of Boulevard Kitchen, Manzil Downtown’s all-day dining restaurant. Boulevard Kitchen has an open air area they called ‘The Courtyard’ that really fills up in the evenings for shisha. Given the popularity of the place, we had to make do with our shisha at a table on the front terrace of the restaurant, bang opposite the Dubai Tram and the kaleidoscopic light display on the Burj Khalifa.

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Sitting there, shisha pipe in hand, I reminiscenced about how this entire area was an endless view of sand dunes when I arrived in the UAE 9 years ago. Today, this area is thriving with life. The world’s tallest tower showcases a whirling cascade of rainbow light, the world’s biggest mall sits in close proximity. And there goes the tram, spanky engine red with golden trimmings, a bustling little transporter that would fit in perfectly well in an edition of Paddington Bear. This is Dubai for you, a city that never sleeps. A city that continues to dazzle and grow in whirlwind speed.

During our stay at Manzil Downtown, we had all our meals at the Boulevard Kitchen. Boulevard Kitchen is no stranger to us. We’ve been to the restaurant earlier for a Friday brunch, and had the pleasure of revisiting our favorite dishes at the buffet. A familiar buffet the second time round is far more efficient, don’t you think?! Here is what I recommend:

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The grilled lobsters at Boulevard Kitchen are a must-try! They are made to order, and sent to your table, straight off the grill.
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‘Kossa Ablama bil Laban’ is a well-loved Levantine dish featuring zucchini stuffed with lamb mince, and served in a yogurt curry. 
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At Boulevard Kitchen, you get to choose from a wide variety of grills. I really love their shish tawok.
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I had the Virgin Pina Colada the first time I visited Boulevard Kitchen, and had to reorder it again this time round. Creamy, sweet and bursting of pineapple freshness, the Pina Colada at Boulevard Kitchen also has generous sprinkles of cinnamon to accentuate on the taste.
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If you are a beer drinker, ask for Al Maza, Lebanon’s favorite. My husband has become a big fan.

 

For dinner, we went a la carte. Boulevard Kitchen has an interesting lineup of Arabesque dishes, revamped with innovative international twists.

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Mediterranean Mule: An Arabesque take on the very popular Moscow Mule, this version has been spiked with the sweetness of cinnamon.
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Flight of the Phoenix: Taste-wise rather similar to the Mediterranean Mule, this is a shake up of citrus and cherry liquers muddled in cinnamon syrup.
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Sauteed Shrimps in a tangy lemn marinade served with mint, lemon and capers. A delightfully light and flavorful appetizer.
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Levant Smoked Salmon: I love smoked salmon, but I’ve never had it with sprinkles of sumac and whipped labneh. Absolutely divine!
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A hearty serving of 250 gram Beef Tenderloin on a pumpkin puree. A bowl of soft, buttery smooth potato mash and broiled broccoli were served on the side.
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Chargrilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs served with a mix of grilled vegetables.
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Ghazel Al Banat: Baklava ice-cream sitting on decadent crumbs of baklava, and topped with a cloud of cotton candy and pistachio dust. A refreshingly lighter take on the popular Levantine dessert.

 

The next morning, we were back again at Boulevard Kitchen. The beauty of this restaurant is that the entire look and feel seems to change with every course. The breakfast buffet lives up to the restaurant’s elaborate hospitality with live stations doing eggs as you like it, fresh pancakes and waffles, and sizzling hot sausages.

I absolutely devoured my Eggs Benedict. Featuring generous slivers of crispy turkey ham and smoked salmon, this French import complete with runny sunny egg yolks made my morning all the more chirpy.

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The bread section has a wide variety of bakery goods, and my daughter especially liked the croissants. Everything is fresh, and baked daily.

 

Apart from your regular teas and coffees, you can opt for authentic Moroccan tea or Turkish black coffee.I also discovered a Turkish breakfast drink at the buffet called ‘Turkish Salep’, a thick, warm and sweet dairy concoction featuring tubers flour, milk and mixed nuts.

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The breakfast buffet also has a section catering to Indian tastes. They have parathas and chole (chickpea curry), and uttapam (rice pancakes) and sambar (a tangy vegetable broth).

 

After breakfast, we headed to the pool. We spent an idle afternoon lying under the cabanas and taking leisurely dips. The pool resides on the first floor of the hotel, and is just over 3 feet deep throughout. If you are planning to do a few laps, you might find the size of the pool a little restrictive as young families occupy a good portion of the space. Pity they don’t have a separate pool for kids, but my five year-old did have a wonderful time splashing about in her floatie.

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It was a challenge getting her out of the pool! She insists she is a mermaid and belongs underwater.

We had our last cups of coffee in the room before we headed down to checkout at 12 noon. Jesse was there to usher us out, and arranged for the valet to get our car. A holiday was coming to an end, albeit a very short one right here in Dubai. As we drove out of the royal arches of Manzil Downtown, the magic was fading. We were back home again, back in the city going headlong into the routine of daily life.

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A stay at Manzil Downtown is a brief respite from the ordinary. The beautifully tasteful ambience coupled with immaculate hospitality puts the mind at a heightened state of zen. Our mini break now seems like a distant daydream. Manzil is a home away from home, a taste of Arabesque hospitality we all deserve to indulge in.

For more details on a Deluxe Room booking at Manzil Downtown, please visit the hotel website. Go on and spoil yourself, spoil the family, and holiday in your very own city!

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