Belinda Henley checks into the Palace Hotel, Dubai.

Getting there:

The hotel is a 45-minute drive from the airport in traffic, less than 20 without.

Check in experience: We arrived around 9pm and were the only ones checking in. It was quick, friendly and painless and we were offered free membership to their loyalty programme, giving us 10 per cent off all dining in the hotel.


Location: In the heart of downtown Dubai, next door to the incredible Burj Khalifa and monstrous Dubai Mall.

Room: Our room was on level one (essentially ground floor) and had a large balcony overlooking a perfectly turquoise lake. There was a large king bed (and a rollaway bed for my daughter) but even with the extra bed it was very spacious, with a desk and armchair too.

The bed: Top three most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. Just divine. And enormous, which was a good thing as I was sharing with my 12-year-old. We ordered a couple of extra pillows from the "pillow menu" including a lavender wheat pack for both kids, which they thought was pretty special!

Toileteries: As well as the usual shampoo, conditioner and body lotion there was a toothbrush and shaving kit and various other bits and pieces the forgetful traveller may need. According to my daughter, the Lorenzo Villoresi soap was the "best smelling" she had ever smelt!

Food and drink: We could have spent all day at the breakfast buffet and very nearly did.

By the time you order your fresh juice, crepe, waffle or omelette with a selection of fillings, it's time to explore the vast range of pastries, breads, cheese, donuts, muffins and Middle Eastern specialities. I could go on. Needless to say we didn't need lunch. The food by the pool was great (especially the hummus) and reasonably priced. We were lucky enough to dine in the hotel's Argentine Grill "Asado". Chef Josephine brought us out the mixed grill including chicken, lamb, chorizo and various cuts of beef. It was superb. And a great spot to watch the evening fountain show.

Bathroom: Very spacious. A double basin, large shower and bath. Fluffy towels and robes in two sizes for adults and children, nice touch!

Noise: No noise at all apart from the air conditioning, which was essential.

Exercise facilities: The pool is long enough for lap swimming and a few enthusiastic guests were doing exactly that. The gym is a step up from many poky hotel gyms and has a great combination of free weights and machines. Enough to satisfy even the most committed exercise junkie.

The spa: Offering a traditional "hammam" for men and women. There is also a full-service spa providing a welcome oasis from the Dubai heat. Guests are greeted with a refreshing concoction of mint, ginger and cucumber and afterwards allowed to spend time on recliners while being served local dates, almonds and dried fruit and deliciously fragrant tea.

Perfect for: Business travellers, couples and families. There were plenty of loved-up couples by the pool but the staff made my little ones completely welcome.