An access-all-areas pass into the hotel which has undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment

Picture Dubai back in 2003. The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa didn’t exist. The city’s rapidly altering skyline though just witnessed a 200m tall glass-and-steel building rise from the ground right along the boundary of Sheikh Zayed Road opposite DIFC. At the time, the 42-storey Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, was among the 20 tallest hotels in the world.

Switch to 2017. It’s boom time in Dubai’s burgeoning tourism industry. There were over 15 million visitors in Dubai last year alone and more than 4.5million in the first quarter of 2017. Dubai is consistently beating cities like New York, Singapore, Milan and Hong Kong in attracting high-spending tourists.

To keep up, the city’s hospitality industry is also raising its game, which explains the Asia-inspired Shangri-La’s decision to undertake a massive renovation on its property last year. The first phase of the two-stage renovation was completed towards the end of 2016. It involved redesigning the lobby area and fitting it out with new furnishings including two large Lasvit chandeliers.

Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai

Incredibly, the Shangri-La hotel stayed open right through the renovation process with the check-in counters moved up to the third floor of the hotel. Office spaces occupy levels 5-8 of the hotel. For long stay guests, there are residences located on levels 12-19 and serviced apartments from level 20-27. From the 29th floor up, there are the 302 rooms and suites that are getting a once over in the second part of the renovation process currently underway and which is slated to be completed by next year. We checked into one of the renovated rooms that featured new panelling, fresh artwork and changes to the fixtures in the room. Tip: When making a reservation, ask for a room with a view of the Burj Khalifa. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re going to opt for the all-in experience, book yourself into either the 39th, 40th or 41st floor – those are where you’ll find the Horizon Club one-bedroom suites and also the Presidential Suites. Jackie Chan checked into one of them a while back. For guests occupying these three floors, you’d have a dedicated check-in counter on the 41st floor, a lounge, a heated infinity swimming pool, private gym and Jacuzzi. This is where you’ll find that one percent of the one percent of Dubai’s 15 million annual visitors kicking back.

Eat

Walk into any Shangri-La hotel worldwide, and you’ll see one of two flagship restaurants: Shang Palace or Summer Palace. Here in Dubai, we dined at Shang Palace, the hotel’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant, located on the same level as the Vietnamese eatery Hoi An (charmingly helmed by the manager and the head chef who are also siblings). We asked Chef Chunlin Xu at Shang Palace to surprise us with his favourite dishes. The crispy prawns with mango-mayonnaise sauce, Mongolian lamb, eel fried rice, and green tea-infused dessert were all packed with flavour and on-point. Make sure your sugar comatose wears off early next morning, as the Pan Asian and continental buffet breakfast served up at Dunes Café is reason enough to book a wakeup call with the receptionist before you go to bed.

Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai

Shang Palace restaurant

Hideout

Head to the rooftop of the Shangri-La Hotel, essentially a balcony that skirts the sides of the building. The area can be set up for an intimate dinner for two, or for a get together of up to 20 people. It delivers a breathtaking view of the Dubai Mall intersection with lit skyscrapers to your left and also of the low-rise sprinkled Jumeirah with the Arabian Gulf beyond that to the right.

Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai

Unwind

You can get professional therapists to tease the knots away from your body at Chi, the hotel’s spa. Fitness enthusiasts can pack in a gym visit or a few laps at the outdoor swimming pool. During the evenings in winter, the pool area is converted into a trendy lounge called iKandy that attracts the city’s hip crowd.

Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai

Need to know: The Deluxe Room (views of the Burj Khalifa) start at Dhs1,850 per night. The Presidential Suite starts at Dhs18,000. shangri-la.com