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Debonair checks in to the Bur Dubai hotel and finds that the picture painted inside is entirely different to the landscape in which it is situated
“But is it art?” is a question many of us will have asked ourselves with slight bemusement when presented with depressingly generic framed watercolour prints in many a hotel room around the world. The intended touch of culture rarely adds anything more than a sense of bland detachment. Gladly, a stay at The Canvas Hotel Dubai won’t create such a sensation.
True to its name, The Canvas, which is presented by Sofitel’s MGallery boutique brand and opened in October 2018, has sourced contemporary art pieces from all around the world. It’s a vital cog in the creation of a hotel that belies its location in deepest Bur Dubai.
Perhaps the most impressive of which is a huge four-piece shield-shaped polished steel work (pictured above) by Albanian artist Helidon Xhixha that hangs fully two storeys high on the lobby’s expansive walls. Want to peruse a magazine while chilling beneath that towering centrepiece? Simply procure one from within the birdcage-esque shelves, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Indeed, everything here possible seems to have been conceived to take you far away from the hotel’s surrounding neighbourhood.
Take the valet location, which for first-time visitors could be initially confusing – it is squirrelled away underground, keeping you away from the streets of Bur Dubai and straight into a lift that whizzes you to the lobby.
The rooms and suites, which total 164, maintain the artistic theme – our deluxe suite seems determined to deconstruct regular interior design, positioning the open-plan bathroom as almost an epicentre around which the other elements are built.
It isn’t a set-up for the shy, with glass walls framing most of the bathroom. Although a sliding dark-wood dividing wall can be used to separate the wash basin and vanity area from a free-standing bath and rain shower cubicle stocked with Roberto Cavalli products.
The two-sided TV wall that acts as the boundary between bedroom and sitting area will also appeal to your vanity: when switched off, the screen turns into a sizeable mirror. That compensates for the lack of such reflective furniture in the suite’s walk-in wardrobe.
Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor (pictured above) is the hotel’s gastronomical go-to for fine diners, serving the renowned celebrity chef’s modern India cuisine. The menu is peppered with eccentricities and innovations, from amuse bouches housed in miniature shopping trolleys (answers on a postcard as to the significance, please) to the dum naryali prawns, cooked and served in a coconut sealed during preparation with a halo of bread.
Our taste-bud-tickling journey concludes with a dessert tray embellished with lychee “pebbles” that is served beneath a cloud of liquid nitrogen.
Next door, the Quantum sports bar is open until 2am, but perhaps the most enticing F&B destination is the rooftop Estrellas pool bar and lounge (pictured below). From up here, the diagonal vantage point across to Downtown Dubai compresses the skyline into a pleasingly compact metropolis view, Burj Khalifa and all. Fittingly, given the hotel’s artistic bent, to the left, the Dubai Frame is also in shot, with a dose of reality to the right with the ships of Port Rashid.
Another highlight on the top floor is the Myst Spa, which alongside a range of massages offers Moroccan and Turkish bath treatments in a maze of rooms that includes a couples facility complete with huge private Jacuzzi. Everywhere you go, the lightning is alluringly dimmed, something that a surprising amount of spas seem to stumble over.
Named after the blank canvas that Dubai as a whole has fast coloured in over the past few years, the hotel has created a satisfying palette of dark woods and delicate lighting throughout its interior.
Yes, there are more glamorous areas of Dubai in which to lay your head, but once inside The Canvas, the picture that is painted is entirely different to the landscape in which it is situated.
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