Rich and I were shattered. He'd been working all of the hours under the sun producing the televised coverage of the women's Qatar tennis open. I had been attempting to juggle work, blogging commitments and wedding planning while actually trying to have a life at the same time (I'll let you guess which one had to give!). We were in desperate need of a quick holiday in order to refresh and unwind.
Luckily for us, Qatar is just a hop, skip and a jump away from a whole plethora of exciting Middle Eastern countries to explore (check out Kelly's guest post earlier this week for a few examples!). Spoiled for choice, we decided on the easy option of Dubai as it's only a leisurely 50 minute flight from Doha...more to the point, it's the location of a very special hotel which we had wanted to visit for a very long time.
Welcome to Raffles, and specifically, the balcony of our rather stunning suite for the weekend. That's quite a view, huh?!
From the moment we stepped into the quirky and distinctive pyramidal building of Raffles Dubai, we were taken with the beauty of the architecture and the intricate attention to detail. Traditional Arabic detailing mingles with an overall Egyptian style, giving a rather ornate feel to the interior.
However, at no point have the touches of decadence been allowed to detract from overall guest comfort. For while this hotel unarguably oozes style from its core, homely touches are also in abundance. Soft sofas line the lobby.
Refreshing towels and a small cup of Arabic coffee were offered on arrival, along with the warmest of welcomes from some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered (big shout-out to Keen in particular, who was like a huge ray of sunshine waiting to welcome us inside and to help us with our bags, and to Jessica and Soukaina on the front desk).
We were taken up to the Raffles Club Room while our room was being prepared, where we were offered refreshments.
And complimentary afternoon tea.
The whole ensemble was absolutely spot on - the highlight being the light, soft and buttery scones, which we asked the waiting staff to replenish a couple of times, because just two each was not enough. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the wholewheat lemon scones were the best I have ever tasted (and I have eaten a fair few scones in my lifetime, trust me!).
After a little R&R, we were shown up to our suite. A suite which was so, well sweet, that I had to try very hard to stop myself from doing a little happy dance right there and then in front of the butler. It was simply gorgeous, with amples of seating, space and light...
A bedroom fit for a princess...
And as I mentioned before, a view of the city to die for.
After our bags were neatly tucked away, we began an excited tour of our new abode, all the time exclaiming at little details such as the pretty heart petals that had been carefully laid out on the bed.
And around the edge of the jacuzzi bath.
Oh yes, and across the top of the bar.
I loved the Asian influence of the art and ceramics which lined the walls.
And the large, welcoming furniture, which invited you to sit down and snuggle in. Nothing about this suite was stuffy or 'hotel-like' in the slightest.
But most of all, as I think you are getting by now, I loved that view. Part of me wanted to cancel our evening plans so that we could do nothing but lie back and marvel at the gorgeous Dubai skyline for the rest of the night.
Detecting my yearning for a little more 'me-time', Rich poured some wine
And went to shower and get ready while I chilled in the sunshine on the comfiest bed in the world.
I watched as the sun began to slip behind the sky scrapers of Dubai, picking out their unusual shapes, and highlighting the craziness of the city.
The Burj Khalifa stood prouder than ever in the setting sun.
I hurried to get ready so that we could take some more snaps out on the balcony before it got dark.
One by one, twinkling lights flickered on across the city, and the sun was gone.
It was time to see what this hotel was made of, starting with complimentary happy hour drinks and canapes back in the Club Lounge.
Well looked-after, fed and watered, we headed out into the city for a while, before returning to check out the nightlife on offer in the hotel.
'People' by Crystal is situated on the top two floors of the hotel, and with its interesting angles, ornate interior and 360 degree panoramic views across the city, it is no wonder that this place has become rather legendary on the Dubai club scene.
Unfortunately, on a Thursday night when we were there, which was supposed to be one of the busiest nights of the week (Thursday is the last day of the working week before the weekend in the UAE), it was disappointingly empty.
Maybe the music and atmosphere weren't quite what we wanted or expected, or maybe we are getting old, but it wasn't too long before we returned to a place that was a little more welcoming before bed.
Breakfast the next day was what can only be described as an utter delight.
Now, with an appetite like mine, I'm a big fan of a breakfast buffet, but when said buffet contains baskets and baskets of pillowy pastries and bread, an Asian station...
And a whole section dedicated to one particular foodstuff which I couldn't get my hands on at home and which I was rather craving...
For those of you that might be under any doubt, this platter definitely contains pork
Well, let's just say I was pretty much happier than I have ever been.
This one was starting to look rather jolly too.
Perhaps because he'd offloaded the entire pork station onto his plate.
Sorry, chef! He was a man possessed and couldn't help himself.
Oh, for those of you that prefer a healthier start to the day, there is also a large selection of fresh fruits and mueslis.
We returned to the room, where I sat at the desk to start editing a few photos (you remember the importance I put on a good desk in a hotel room, don't you?!).
And when the sun came out, I moved position to the balcony so that I could lap up that view one more time before we had to go.
It was unfortunate that we hadn't had a chance to try out some of the hotel's facilities, like the stunning pool below us.
But we had to leave something for next time didn't we?
It had been the perfect mini-break in a hotel which was as near-perfect as you can get. I left with Ayman Gharib, the General Manager's words ringing in my ears.
Never has a truer word been said.
Rich and I paid for one night's stay at Raffles, Dubai, but were upgraded to a Landmark Suite for free, which included Club Room access.