Budget Break: Rove Downtown Dubai and The Bench Brunch

Last weekend we took ourselves off for a cheeky little staycation in Dubai – a bit of a ‘brunchcation’ if you will… You know the deal, you want to go up to Dubai to see some friends, go shopping, do brunch… but it’s all so much to fit in to one day and it’s a hassle just driving up (or arranging transport) for the one day. BUT, it’s also so flipping expensive to stay over, especially when you’ve got so much planned that you’re probably not going to spend much time in the room anyway. Well, the Rove Downtown Dubai hotel might just be the answer you’re looking for…

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Set in a great location in Downtown, the Dubai Mall is right across the road – in fact, it’s close enough to walk if you’re feeling so inclined. But it’s not just a great location, this place is pretty fabulous. On first glance you could be forgiven for thinking the place is an upmarket boutique design hotel when in fact it’s a – wait for it – a budget hotel! Yes, you read that right! It’s a budget hotel, but a budget hotel with a big difference.

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It’s spacious, modern, has oodles of cool contemporary features and is eminently instagrammable – and that’s just the reception area. But it doesn’t just look and feel cool, it’s actually super functional too – workspaces are set up to one side of the foyer where you can get onto one of the mac desktops or plug in your own laptop if you’ve got time to kill or work to finish.

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So the hotel is business friendly, though here business friendly doesn’t mean the usual stuffy, grown up and serious atmosphere. It’s really very warm, fun and welcoming, and even kids have not been forgotten. Baby Arabian Notes wasted no time in exploring the reception areas and in his roaming it didn’t take long before he came across the two rocking horses pictured below. I’m still not entirely sure if they were meant to be played on, or if they were really just part of the cool decor, but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone, and at one point he even gained an encouraging audience, much to his delight!

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The Rove Downtown Dubai is classed as a three star hotel, but you’d never know it. Existing budget hotels should hang their heads in shame, whilst the bar has been well and truly set for all those that follow.

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The rooms are not enormous but have more than enough space (even for us needing to fit in our travel cot) with most of them being around 26 metres squared, and given the location, most of them have pretty cool views across Dubai into the bargain.

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As you’d expect from a budget hotel, the rooms are basic but with everything you really need – there’s (very) basic toiletries included, a kettle and a hairdryer, an en-suite bathroom with rain shower and that’s about it, but what else do you need?! It certainly has more than you could ask for in comfort and for a city break, it’s absolutely perfect for those that have plans and aren’t planning on being stuck in the hotel all day long (and even you if you are, there are far worse places to be – the beds are pretty comfortable!). Given that this place is budget… in my opinion it’s pretty amazing.

Back downstairs there’s even a convenience store for everything else you might have forgotten or want. You name it, you can just about find it there – and how perfect is that?! There’s nothing worse than knowing you have to pop out for nappies or a toothbrush or whatever it you’ve forgotten and having to first search for a shop. But boom, in this case, it’s right there in the lobby! I can’t imagine why more hotels haven’t provided such useful stores – in my experience they’re usually an overpriced random mix of dodgy souvenirs, random snacks and soggy sandwiches you don’t really want to buy anyway.

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There is also a snack bar inside where you can order hot bites and sandwiches or something to go if you’re in a rush.

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You have to walk right through the shop to get to the hotel restaurant where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. We popped in for ‘The Bench’ brunch before we headed out for an afternoon of shopping and were again impressed with what we found.

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It’s a simple concept, one bench just filled with food. Breakfast cereals, tarts, croissants, sandwiches, cheeses, cold meats, yoghurts and the like makes this one brunch that is genuinely deserving of the name. You choose as much as you like from the bench, and then order one main course from the menu which features dishes including eggs benedict, pancakes, shakshuka eggs, omelette, chicken or quinoa salad and pasta.

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There’s also your choice of coffee or tea included. And of course there are also mocktails and an alcohol menu (at extra cost) available to those who fancy a tipple or four. The thing about this brunch is that it’s just a lovely way to spend a lazy morning or afternoon, without it being a full on all day extravagant affair (though you can make it that if you want!). It’s just relaxed and easy and fits into your day however you want it to.

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For me, it’s the perfect late and lazy all-day breakfast and I loved that about it. We checked into the hotel, popped down for a leisurely family brunch together before spending the rest of the afternoon doing whatever we felt like (and no hangovers to worry about the next day either, hurrah!).

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And of course the restaurant looks as great as the rest of the hotel does. There’s even a small area for the kids to play and eat which was brilliant for keeping baby (though he’s not such a baby anymore!) amused.

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It feels like the hotel has thought of everything. It is a self service hotel though so if you’re expecting to be waited on hand and foot you’re in the wrong place. There’s no valet parking, no bell-boys (they have trolleys for your baggage), a self service baggage storage room for those who need to leave luggage pre- or post-stay – it’s unashamedly no frills, but it is just brilliant. I can’t tell you how impressed we were with this place as it makes such a refreshing change in these parts – especially when you see the price..!

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With a central location and a view like this you’d be forgiven for doing a double take when I say that the ‘Rover Room’ rates start from just Dhs275 per night. Unbelievable right?! As long as they keep the prices within this range this will be the place to go for a basic but comfortable and very functional stay.
Note that breakfast is not included at these rates but can be purchased for a very reasonable Dhs55 per person (or just grab a banana from the shop!).

The Bench brunch runs from 11am to 3.30pm on both Fridays and Saturdays and is just Dhs99 per person and Dhs49 for kids aged six to 12 (kids under six eat free).

Without a doubt I’d recommend this place to friends and family who are planning a trip to Dubai, and I have no doubt that we’ll go again ourselves. It’s just the perfect budget solution but with style and none of the ‘ugh’ or ‘yuck’ that many budget hotels evoke. Especially for we Abu-Dhabians looking for a weekend in Dubai: a shopping trip, catching up with friends, all day brunching or whatever your plans, if you need an all-nighter (or longer) that doesn’t break the bank then honestly, do take a look at the Rove Downtown Dubai first.

Find out more about both stays and The Bench brunch on their website here. My only advice is to book up early because unsurprisingly, it’s proving pretty popular.