A palace for winter, a palace for summer; the Ottomans were famed for their extravagance. Their opulent architecture was as internationally varied as the subjects they ruled over, blending eastern motifs taken from Persian, Byzantine Greek and Islamic styles with the highly ornamental western styles of Baroque, Rococo and Empire. The resulting aesthetic is one of pure indulgence, and it’s one that informs the look of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, a five-star hotel on the West Crescent of Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah. The hotel’s grand façade was specifically inspired by the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, and its sweeping arches and domes command a serious presence.
This is a building that makes a statement, from the water fountain in the entrance formed in the shape of an Islamic star to the 4.5-tonne Bohemian crystal chandelier that hangs in the central hall. It’s hardly surprising that it took a team of 45 Turkish interior designers six months to complete the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s lavish interiors. The hotel’s 405 rooms are decorated with texturally rich fabrics in warm golds, ochres and bronzes. Sweet dreams come easily after a soak in the deep sunken marble bathtubs, snuggled under the bed covers made from traditional Ottoman kemha, an ornately stylised silk fabric. Choose the grand imperial suite and a 2.68m2 tub is all yours.
Holding 2,000 litres of water, the golden imperial bathtub could fit up to 20 people – that is if you can bear to share it. Failing that, there are plenty of spots for a dip, like the 59m outdoor infinity pool which stretches out to sea, or in the Talise Ottoman Spa, one of the largest spas in the world. Since opening in 2011, the spa has won countless awards, and its design feels as indulgent as the vast array of treatments on offer. Take its entrance for instance, where the hand-painted Turkish door weighs 600 kilos, hand-aged with turquoise paint by ten people over two days.
For the full Ottoman treatment, the 38 Royal Residences are unsurpassed. The four- and five-bedroom villas are cocooned in an extra layer of privacy and boast lush tropical gardens, secluded pools and stunning views. Prepare to be waited on hand and foot like a true sultan.