This post officially brings me up to date with my travel photos! It’s been a long time coming. Earlier this week we took a five-day trip to Dubai. It was my first trip to the United Arab Emirates and my husband’s second. Last year he drove to Dubai for a weekend conference, not really a proper way to see the city.
Our first stop was XVA Art Hotel, a quirky, yet sophisticated boutique hotel in the historical district of Al Fahidi. With a mere 12 guestrooms, each with a different aesthetic concept, XVA Art Hotel is a visual delight. The owner of the hotel is an artist and as soon as you enter XVA it is apparent that the focus on art is not a gimmick. The hotel is home to a gallery, or vice versa, considering the surprising strength of the art on display. Later in the trip we visited Dubai’s gallery scene and I think the selection of art at XVA was much stronger than anything I saw there.
Around the hotel, the art is well integrated into the spaces, as it would be in the home of an avid collector. The combination of whimsy and restraint makes XVA feel both inviting and serious. We stayed in the “Mirror, Mirror” room, an all-white interior with artworks incorporating mirrors and mirrored design objects. As obvious as it might seem, the application was subdued enough that I was not able to guess the theme. There’s a sense of wonder and discovery as you walk around this place. Some of this is completely logistical. The XVA Art is literally a hidden gem. In other words, it is hard to find. Making our way there from the airport, our cabbie used Google maps. He told us he couldn’t get us any closer and dropped us off, pointing us down a dark pathway. Of course, he was wrong and it took another half hour of walking around to make it to the hotel.
As I wish we were informed, XVA is nestled in a little labyrinthine complex off of a roundabout. You make a few turns down the cocoon-like, olde world, alleyways before you come upon the rather discreet entrance. This is fun during the day, not so fun at 1am with heavy suitcases. The discovery continues inside as this heritage building unfolds in unexpected ways, with the distinction between interior and exterior being a fluid one. Several little stairways navigate you around the building’s centerpiece, a bright courtyard, covered with canvas tarps. Our tiny room had three sets of wooden double doors that opened completely exposing the room to our terrace, which looked down onto the courtyard below. I love a space where I can be inside and outside at the same time.
If you can’t tell, XVA is my new favorite hotel. However, it does have a downside. It does not serve alcohol like the larger hotels and you will also find it short on amenities. But, the complimentary breakfast in the courtyard is great and the souqs, Dubai Museum and Dubai Creek are all in walking distance. You won’t be close to Dubai’s main attractions, the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and the mega malls, but XVA is a great option if you are interested in exploring Old Dubai and one of the only options if you want to stay amongst the creative- types. Though our stay was brief (only one night before we moved on to a more stereotypical Dubai hotel with kickass amenities) I really appreciated the interesting crowd of folks gathered at breakfast. My advice is to stay here at least one or two nights if you consider yourself the least bit artsy. Despite the nightmare of trying to find this place at 1am in the morning, we’re already talking about staying at XVA again.