There’s a shoe in my room. A single bright pink shoe stands poised on the coffee table next to a portrait. My personal butler – all kitted out in pristine finery – looks on modestly, amused by my attempt to detangle my brain cells. I’m jetlagged so my double take is delayed until I realise that the portrait is of me.

“We believe you own pink shoes?” he asks. “I do.” “We also understand you enjoy chocolate?” “Indeed, I do,” I reply. “The pink shoe and the portrait of you are made entirely of chocolate,” he says. “Welcome to The Oberoi!”

Intimate in-room arrivals

This was my recent introduction to The Oberoi, Dubai, while hemisphere-hopping between Australia and Sweden. The intimate in-room check-in took place on my sofa, over a cool hand towel and a pot of herbal tea, as if I’d arrived at a friend’s home.

Located in Dubai’s young Business Bay district, The Oberoi was awarded the Middle East’s Leading Luxury City Hotel at the World Travel Awards in April 2019, for the sixth consecutive year. The hotel’s point of difference is its unrivalled personalised guest service. I concur.

The attentive crew of this resort-style hotel are trained to emulate a family-style atmosphere, making guests quickly feel at home. Once a guest at any Oberoi Hotels and Resorts property, your likes, dislikes, hobbies and food preferences are logged on your personal profile, which is shared with every hotel in the group. If you desire a ginger tea with honey at 5am every morning, it will arrive at 5am. Every afternoon, your butler appears in your room showcasing a tray of market fruit, based on what you enjoyed the previous day.

Sleep in style at Oberoi

Guests can choose from 252 spacious contemporary rooms with city or pool views, or opulent two- or three-bedroom suites. Above classy oak furniture and hand-tufted rugs that grace the floors of polished timber, abstract artworks of celebrated Indian artist, Mrinmoy Barua, splash the walls. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the arty spaces in silver desert light, before absorbing panoramas of Dubai’s glittering skyline piercing the night skies.

Taking the personal touch to the next level, bedside tables reveal a pillow box. Inside is a tactile pillow menu (fit for a dolls’ house) of bonsai-sized pillows, from buckwheat to dual-zone and duck down to memory foam. It’s all so Oberoi.

The Oberoi Dubai
Image: Marie Barbieri

Epitomising luxury is the 235-square-metre Presidential Suite, featuring a light-flooded living room, a study complete with leather jacketed tomes, a dining room sparkling with lead crystal chandeliers, a pantry, a master bedroom, a powder room, an Italian marble bathroom with steam room and a balcony with a private plunge pool. All of this comes with 24-hour personalised butler service assigned to your oasis in the sky.

Delectable dining

Dining is a stimulating affair at The Oberoi. Seafood nights sizzle at Nine7One (nine cuisines from seven continents served in one destination). It’s when freshly caught fish, Omani lobster, jumbo squid and prawns are wood-grilled, while BBQ nights are a gastronomic celebration of Australian lamb, Argentinian beef and locally sourced chicken. Meats are paired with secret recipes curating Cajun spices, ginger and chipotle into their marinades.

Dine at Ananta and you are relentlessly spoiled. The hotel’s signature restaurant celebrates India’s diverse culinary heritage in a space glowing in gold, silver and claret hues. Indian-spiced welcome drinks and hors d’oeuvres groom discerning palates, thanks to the deft hands of Head Chef, Saneesh Varghese. Cooking with a traditional roomali roti grill, a tawa flat iron grill and tandoor ovens, Chef Saneesh’s dishes become performers in a live culinary theatre as they’re created in an interactive open kitchen before their salivating audience.

Holistic pleasures

With an entire floor dedicated to wellness, including a temperature-controlled outdoor pool and 24-hour gym, guests can join The Oberoi’s resident yogi on the alfresco deck for restorative asanas. It’s then mere metres to The Oberoi Spa, where holistic treatments comprise eastern and western healing principles to further nourish the body.

Spa experiences begin with 10 minutes in the en suite steam room, before toes are guided onto brass slippers bearing frangipani flowers for a refreshing kasa bowl foot ritual. Once on the therapy bed, deep breathing begins and wellness continues. While essential oils blended in coconut oil effleurage the body, the therapist’s trained fingers will read your knots like braille, tweaking, kneading and ironing out any hint of tension.

Upon returning to my room a few hours before checkout, I found a butler in my bathroom. “We know you have a long flight ahead of you, Miss Marie, so we have run you a warm bath, with some fresh rose petals.” That touched me, deeply.

Slipping into my bathtub between the sea of swaying petals, I lay absorbing the lime, tulsi and narangi ingredients of the Ayurveda-inspired brand of Forest Essentials amenities. Facing Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, I gazed at the 828-metre aluminium and glass rocket-like skyscraper, feeling like I was in a fairytale in the heart of the Arabian Gulf.

It was then I realised that real Cinderellas aren’t matched to glass slippers, but pink ones. And they’re made of chocolate.

The writer stayed as a guest of The Oberoi, Dubai.