DUBAI: Arriving at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa in Kuwait, our initial impression is that it fits well into the Dubai-based international luxury hotel brand’s chain of properties.
Stepping into the impressive lobby we stare through the huge windows ahead, looking along the hotel’s central courtyard down to the sea, following a path through manicured gardens. The staff are quick to check us in, unfailingly polite and helpful (as they are throughout our stay), and usher us to our generously sized room — one of 407 in the hotel, including 12 private villas down by the aforementioned manicured gardens. So far, so good.
Settling in, we pull back the curtains to see what our view’s like. It is striking. But not in a good way. We do not have a beach-facing room. There is some water — a stagnant pool gathering in a concrete trench around a sad-looking, mostly concrete, park. This, we later learn, is part of the Messilah Beach Water Village; a ‘family friendly’ attraction reminiscent of a rundown British seaside town. It might be fun to visit (we didn’t go), but it is no kind of aesthetic pleasure.
The incongruous vista is made even less attractive by the two large garbage containers directly below our window. A useful hint: If you’re booking a room here, avoid the south-facing ones.
The room itself, thankfully, is more pleasant to look at: Generic, inoffensive color scheme with a decent attempt at a mural above the sofa, tidy, and, most importantly, clean. The location of the desk is puzzling, and would probably tip a feng-shui expert into an apoplectic rage. The large bathroom with jacuzzi and separate shower, however, is a sumptuous treat.
Less of a treat is the … let’s be charitable and call it idiosyncratic … electrical system. Motion sensors are a nice idea, but not if they turn all the lights on when one of you gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. The labyrinthine method required to avoid this seems wholly unnecessary and easily avoidable — a confusing and pointless reinvention of the wheel.
Opening and closing the curtains isn’t quite as complicated, once we’ve located the switches, which — for some reason — are hidden away behind a small outcrop in the wall and can only be seen once you are sitting on the bed.
Those small (albeit infuriating) niggles are quickly forgotten, though, once we sink into bed. It is, it’s fair to say, a magnificent mattress/duvet/pillow combination. Pure luxury. And a great night’s sleep, helped in no small part by our evening stroll out along the hotel’s breakwater, past the open-air beach pavilions — definitely worth a wander while the nights are still cool.
Our breakfast is taken at the Garden Café, situated on the hotel’s lower level and looking out — you guessed it — over the gardens. The hotel promo material promises a “lavish buffet,” and the reality does not disappoint. The choice is enormous — from continental and Arabic breakfast staples, to a good old fry-up (including live omelet station), via a plethora of fruit, a range of wonderful pastries and breads, fresh juice, and more, all of it excellent. The kitchen is able to cater for diverse dietary requirements, including vegan and gluten-free dishes. You can stock up for the day here, and we do. We sample the Friday bunch at the same venue, too, which is also delicious and ridiculously well-stocked.
We do not try any of the hotel’s other outlets, but there is a range of cuisines on offer, including Italian, Arabic, seafood, and a steakhouse.
There’s not much within walking distance of the hotel — unless you’re tempted by the Water Village, which you won’t be — apart from a garage with a shop for basic groceries, and a small strip of restaurants and cafés. But this isn’t a major issue, since you can happily spend the day relaxing around the hotel’s three pools, or down by the beach. If you fancy something a little more energetic, you can book the tennis court, or make use of the hotel’s well-equipped gym. And for pampering, of course, there’s the Talise Spa, which offers 17 treatment rooms and two private suites. There’s even a majlis-style room where you can book a group Hammam treatment, and a Himalayan Salt Room, which — the hotel claims — is the first in the Middle East.
Overall, the superb levels of service, comfort and cuisine more than make up for our disappointing view and the peculiarities of the electrics. If you’re planning a break in Kuwait, then Jumeirah Messilah Beach is a great option — particularly if you’re looking to escape the clutch of hotels in the city center.