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3 days agoupdated May 17, 2024

The Lana – Dorchester Collection: Dubai’s Quiet Luxury Debut

A Dior Spa and two culinary powerhouses combine to make The Lana Dubai's hottest opening of 2024.

By Andrew Harris

The world’s most fashion-conscious construction site, Dubai, where cranes compete for space amidst crowded cobalt skies while meticulously coutured women compete for the poutiest lips in the streets below, continues on with its inexorable journey to who knows where. A city of just 250,000, with one high-rise building in 1980, Dubai now boasts a Manhattan-style skyline incorporating the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and a population of four million. Shamelessly showy and brazenly blingy, Dubai stamps its indelible impression on the 21st Century like the hallmark on a bar of bullion in its famous Gold Souk.

Amidst this cornucopia of conspicuous consumption, where real estate developers have the unsubtle habit of leaving their logos emblazoned across completed buildings, the latest addition to downtown Dubai is, by contrast, a masterclass in understated sophistication and timeless elegance. The Lana, which launched in February 2024, is the latest offering from the Dorchester Collection, whose mother ship, The Dorchester on London’s Park Lane, overlooking Hyde Park, has reigned supreme as one of the British capital’s Grande Dame hotels since 1931. With iconic ultra-luxe outposts encompassing The Beverley Hills Hotel, Paris’s Hotel Plaza Athenée, and the Hotel Eden in Rome (constructed in 1889), The Lana represents the Dorchester Collection’s 10th property, and its first in the Middle East.

[See also: Atlantis The Royal: Still Dubai’s Hottest New Opening]

The Lana exterior in Dubai
The Lana sits on the edge of downtown Dubai’s only marina / ©Dorchester Collection
The Lana entrance
The Lana entrance with the traditional Dorchester Collection doorman / ©The Lana

Designed by acclaimed architects Foster + Partners, the sleek, sensual lines of the new building, interlocking like pieces of giant Lego, are set around the tantalizingly tranquil Marasi Bay, the only marina in downtown Dubai. At April’s opening party, Mahdi Amjad, the developer behind it all, and Dorchester Collection’s partner at The Lana, explained to me how this land, unutilized for so long, had been purchased from the military 16 years previously. The Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall are just a 15-minute stroll away, yet it is also discreetly distanced from them – The Lana and its marina are nestled into a prime position that simply didn’t exist before.

The interiors of the 30-floor property were entrusted to Paris-based maestros of classical modernist design, Gilles & Boissier, who have rendered up a sumptuous contemporary property that also manages respectful nods to The Dorchester’s traditionally framed heritage. Husband and wife, Dorothée Boissier and Patrick Gilles, have an alchemic ability to meld the conservative with the creative, conveying a sequence of style-infused spaces that unfold seamlessly in a stunning display of calm confident opulence.

[See also: The Lana in Dubai Unveils Its Restaurants Ahead of Opening]

This is a 30-story showcase for the Art de la Vie Francaise. From the dusky pink marble entrance next to the hotel’s two nonchalantly parked Rolls-Royces (a Phantom and a Ghost), the color theme continues with the piped leather interiors of the elevators and the dramatic gilded sculpture at the far end of the light-filled lobby, part of the hotel’s curated art collection.

The 225 rooms and suites, culminating in the two palatial Lana Royal and Marina Royal suites, boast floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive balconies, most of which overlook the dramatic Dubai skyline and the nightly light show running up and down the Burj Khalifa. Rooms are a restrained and subtle mélange of marbles and natural woods subsumed in seemingly limitless amounts of light and space, and possibly the comfiest beds you’re ever likely to fall into.

The Marina royal suite living room
The Marina Royal Suite / ©Dorchester Collection
The Marina royal suite bathroom
The spectacular city view from the Marina Royal Suite’s bathroom / ©Dorchester Collection
Marina royal suite terrace
The Marina Royal Suite’s private terrace / ©Dorchester Collection

The 29th floor is home to the latest Dior Spa, a classically chic sanctuary of serenity and, undoubtedly, Dubai’s new go-to destination for unapologetically indulgent personal pampering. The first Dior Spa debuted at the Hotel Plaza Athenée in 2008 as a relic of Christian Dior’s longstanding personal association with the hotel. Back in Dubai, there are five spacious treatment rooms and a couples suite all benefiting from spectacular views and complemented by a plethora of high-tech holistic therapies guaranteed to coax mind and body back to pitch-perfect condition.

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One floor up is High Society, a sun-strafed rooftop retreat featuring far-reaching panoramas, sun-baked bodies, a hint of smug superiority directed at the world below, and a poolside bar with light-touch cuisine crafted by Jean Imbert. Michelin star gazers will recognize the name; Jean Imbert, the then 39-year-old self-taught holder of precisely no Michelin stars, was at the center of a very French melée in 2021, when he was announced as the successor to Alain Ducasse, who holds more of them than anyone else, at Plaza Athenée.

The Lana Dior Spa
The Dior Spa couples room / ©Dorchester Collection

For traditional observers of the French food scene this was “une véritable catastrophe!”, yet Imbert, who had partnered in restaurant ventures with Pharrell Wiliams, and cooked for an array of A-listers from Justin Timberlake to Beyoncé and Robert De Niro, delivered a rapid riposte to his detractors in the form of a Michelin star that arrived in a matter of months.

At The Lana, where a picture of Imbert strolling along the edge of High Society’s infinity pool was recently posted to his half-a-million Instagram followers, he also oversees Riviera on the 4th floor, a light-filled Gilles & Boissier homage to the Côte d’Azur. The delicious lunch that I was served by Imbert and his team at Riviera, incorporating a salt-encrusted sea bream, confirms an undisputed emergent culinary talent.

Though the Dorchester Collection clearly wasn’t satisfied with simply harnessing the thrusting achievements of the young pretender. Among the eight F&B outlets including an exquisitely diminutive cocktail bar hidden away at lobby level, and the Bon Bon Cafe from award-winning pâtissier, Angelo Musa, there is also Jara, the 18th floor restaurant overseen by an established titan of the Spanish restaurant scene, Martin Berasategui.

Jara bar at The Lana
Jara by Martin Berasategui at The Lana / ©Dorchester Collection

Berasategui, born and raised in the Basque country’s San Sebastian, which, for more than a few foodies remains the epicenter of Iberian, if not European, culinary excellence, holds a total of 12 Michelin stars, more than any other Spanish chef. At the opening party, I enjoyed a chat with the highly affable and self-effacing Berasategui where it’s immediately clear how he’d recoil from labels like “the best”, or “most successful” chef in Spanish gastronomy. Many though, would have no hesitation whatsoever in according to him such accolades.

Jara, named for his granddaughter, which, with its adjoining bar, is yet another mesmerizingly conceived Mitchell & Eades space, is currently Berasategui’s only venture outside of Spain. With an emphasis on wood-fired cooking, it’s the first Basque restaurant in the UAE and is undoubtedly destined to make a major impact on Dubai’s fine dining scene.

The Lana Dubai seems to have inserted a very big tick in various luxury boxes. A visionary developer has magicked an exclusive location out of a slab of defunct desert. It has an aesthetically alluring building whose subtle understatement merely makes it stand out, and it has exceptional arbiters of French taste that have been unleashed on the interiors.

It brings with it nearly a century of The Dorchester’s impeccable Park Lane pedigree, complete with unassailable levels of old-school service. It’s got gastronomic demi-gods, a spa that’s as enticing and elegant as can be found anywhere, and an uber-cool rooftop bar to rival any other. But perhaps what it does best of all is to simply whisper wealth to a city that has often seemed to prefer shouting about it.

The Lana, Marasi Drive, Business Bay, Dubai UAE; Contact reservations.LAN@dorchestercollection.com, +971 4 882 2000, dorchestercollection.com/the-lana

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