After a great stay at the Conrad Makkah, I chose the Conrad Dubai for our stay over New Year’s. The Conrad Dubai is a gorgeous hotel located on Sheikh Zayed Road, close to public transportation. So it was a bit disappointing when it turned out to be my worst 5-star hotel experience so far. The hotel has so much going for it, but it was almost like the staff tried intentionally to sabotage any positive impression. It was definitely a red flag that the hotel had a limited social media presence, which tends to mean they don’t care about customer feedback.
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Conrad Dubai Check-in
The Conrad Dubai exterior reminded me a great deal of the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. The lobby was just as spectacular. During the day, it was light and airy. At night it glowed from the accent lights while the giant Christmas tree gave it even more grandeur.
At check-in, the staff couldn’t have been more indifferent to guests. They were completely on auto-pilot and didn’t so much as speak to any guests until an Emirate man, who I assume was very important, showed up. That’s when the manager, who was with another guest, practically jumped over the desk to shake the man’s hand.
Conrad Dubai Deluxe Room
Standard Deluxe rooms at the Conrad Dubai were going for over $500 per night. Thus, redeeming points and the two free nights from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card was a great choice. The room itself was large and beautifully decorated. There wasn’t much of a view, however, due to the humidity and the fact that our room faced the parking lot side of the hotel.
The Deluxe Room featured a King sized bed, a desk, a large bathroom, and ample storage space. Everything from the lights to the curtains was controlled with a remote. Yet, half the room didn’t have functioning power outlets.
There was a Nespresso machine as well as complimentary tea and bottled water.
On the surface everything looked great, but there were a few issues. In the bathroom, there was no place to plug in the blowdryer. The towels were also frayed, which is odd for a luxury hotel. This is something guests have frequently complained about on TripAdvisor.
The bathroom was otherwise very nice and featured a shower, separate tub, and a tv. The Aromatherapy Associates amenities were great, though sparse. Requesting more produced no results, as did pretty much every interaction with the staff.
My major annoyance with this hotel was that the keys didn’t work on every floor. If your room was on the 5th floor, you could only travel to that floor. It was super annoying because my dad and brother were on a different floor and if I needed something from them, we would have to meet in either the lobby or Executive floor.
Conrad Dubai Wifi
The hotel’s worst offence wasn’t the terrible service, but the wifi. I couldn’t understand how wifi at the Conrad Dubai, located in one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, could be so awful. Wifi was limited to 13 hours in the room and 2:59 hours elsewhere. It didn’t actually work everywhere and got disconnected a lot. I was lucky if I got 1 – 4 bars at any given moment. On our last night, wifi didn’t work at all. The front desk agent who promised to look into it, said he’d call me back in 30 minutes but never did. That had become par for the course at that point.
Conrad Dubai Executive Lounge
When we went to the Executive Lounge the first night, our keys didn’t work. The attendant came out and said he couldn’t let us in without a working key. He refused to look up our room numbers to confirm we had lounge access. I called the front desk and was told I had to come down to refresh my keys. There was zero initiative on the part of the staff to expedite things.
What the Conrad Dubai Executive Lounge lacked in service, it made up with everything else. This was one of the most beautiful club lounges I’ve ever been to. It was an incredibly warm space and the food was very good.
There was lots of seating throughout the lounge, with decent views of the city. Aside from the general seating area, the lounge also had a conference room and a separate living area perfect for families or large groups.
The food spread was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Breakfast featured a bread and pastry section, pancakes, waffles, sausage, juice, fruits, yogurt, and granola. In addition to this, you could order eggs from the attendant.
The afternoon spread featured lots of desserts, cheese, etc.
The evening spread could totally be substituted for dinner. Hot items included samosa, satay, spring rolls, falafel, plus cheese, chips and guacamole.
There was never any cutlery available unless you asked the staff, and the coffee maker was constantly out of water. The staff didn’t bother refilling it unless asked multiple times.
Scene in a Lounge
At times it felt like the lounge attendants were playing a game of hide-and-seek, based on how little time they spent taking care of guests. Even when one of the guests had what I can only assume was a nervous breakdown, the staff largely stayed away. Yes, on our second night I was sitting there, minding my own business when an otherworldly scream reverberated throughout the fairly packed lounge. Three young men sat across from me and one of them seemed to be possessed by a demon. He kept yelling and dropping to the ground, screaming in agony. He was shouting things like “This f***ing leg – I want to cut it off!” and then his friends would plead with him to go back to his room. “I don’t wan to go to the f***ing room!” he would shout loud enough for everyone to hear. It was terrifying.
A server came around and asked timidly if he needed help. The guy screamed back like the server had asked if he’d like a colonoscopy performed in front of the other guests. The waiter scuttled away and that was the end of it. When the screams became particularly harrowing and his friends sat with their foreheads pressed against their palms, I tweeted at the Conrad Dubai but nobody responded. When it became clear the staff couldn’t be bothered to do anything about the screaming and cursing, I left the lounge.
Service at the Conrad Dubai
The service at Conrad Dubai was almost intentionally terrible. It seemed like the problem came from the top down and that employees weren’t empowered to do their jobs. For example, one night my mom got to the lounge just as they were closing. The staff had begun clearing everything and my mom asked if she could have some yogurt for my grandmother, who wasn’t feeling well. The staff member went into the kitchen to ask a manager. She came out, barked, “No!” and stormed back into the kitchen.
Another time, I was in the lounge just before evening appetizers were served. While working on my laptop, I noticed the staff had already put out the spread five minutes before the official start time. When I walked over to grab something from the buffet, a server walked by and told me “the buffet opens in five minutes.” He all but asked me to put the food back.
There was also obvious favoritism towards Emiratis. If you’re staying at this hotel and not wearing a white robe and matching headpiece, you might as well be invisible. The staff practically pushed other guests out of the way in order fall at the feet of their Emirati guests. It was sad when it wasn’t completely ridiculous. For years I’d heard what a terrible place Dubai was for foreign workers, but I hadn’t witnessed this repressed, beaten down attitude until I stayed at the Conrad Dubai.
Final Thoughts on the Conrad Dubai
There are lots of great luxury hotels to choose from in Dubai, so it’s pretty inexcusable for the Conrad to fall short in so many ways. Maybe it was because we stayed there during New Year’s Eve, undoubtedly the busiest time of the year, or maybe it was because the staff seemed to operate in a constant state of fear. In any case, I noticed several TripAdvisor reviews after my trip, outlining pretty much the same complaints. I’m not a fan of Dubai and won’t return if I can help it, but if I do, I’ll probably stay elsewhere.
Have you stayed at the Conrad Dubai? What was your experience like at this hotel?
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