In the film Showgirls (1995), the heroine says she purchased her dress at “Ver-sayse”, an indication that the lowly stripper was moving up in the world, even if she couldn’t pronounce Versace correctly. Moving up in the world is now literal for anyone staying in Dubai with the opening of the five-star Palazzo Versace Dubai. The second of three of the world’s first fashion hotels to bear the medusa logo, Palazzo Versace Dubai upturns common notions about luxury: for example, that a luxury hotel must not be near the airport. On the contrary, Palazzo Versace is the Versace you never expected along with elements that you knew that to be there. This is a hotel that looks like a palace and sets a new precedence for comfort and glamour along with an even shorter trip to your jet, helicopter or, yes, the airport.


With the passing of Gianni Versace in 1997, his sister Donatella has carried on the brand’s tradition of glamour with a twist. One of Gianni’s most famous quotes, “I like the body. I like to design everything to do with the body,” here includes giving guests a truly stunning space full of expected pleasures without being gaudy or overwrought. As Dubai’s most luxurious hotel property to date, Donatella’s eye for detail extends to gold hand-detailing on the ceilings to Italian marble and a mosaic floor that took over one year to lay out its one million tessare.

Dubai is famous for its dining experiences and Palazzo Versace Dubai gives its residents and guests ample choice of incredible quality. The entrance to Enigma, Dubai’s newest restaurant with a line-up of celebrity guest Michelin-starred chefs, is hidden off the wing of the lobby, which is itself opulently soothing and almost hypnotic with its wide scenic waterside view. Festooned with beautiful Versace logos in burgundy and gold, Vanitas, the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant, is adjacent. La Vita bar, headed by the hotel’s award winning barman, is an airy hallway jaunt to the right, where guests can also partake of an incredibly international breakfast array served at Giardino.

In March, British Polo Day Dubai is not to be missed, even if you don’t like Taittinger champagne, beautifully bred polo ponies, fit men and beautiful women, powerful people and natural elegance. It’s a day of excitement finished off with an afterparty from which I’m still recovering. It seemed like a bit of a dream but my personalised Whistle & Bango bangle, purchased there at the event and engraved by the company in the UK, is a solid reminder that the glamour here is very real.

Say you don’t like polo, or don’t understand it? Have Palazzo Versace Dubai staff book a polo masterclass at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club. Ask for Steve. My first polo lesson was aboard one of the ex-ponies of the royals. The lesson was transformational and I’ve become a fan the moment I hit the ball. British Polo Day could open a whole new world for you as it has for me: ask the ponies at Wiltshire’s Druid’s Lodge if you think I’m kidding.

Of course, if you really must do something more desert-y, do not fail to book a desert safari with Arabian Adventures – a thrilling journey over the sand dunes of the beautiful Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. You can choose dune bashing and tented BBQ, riding on camels, sand surfing, open fires and that other wonderful ceiling, the twinkling open Emirates sky…which brings us right back to the wonder of Palazzo Versace Dubai. The Versace logo – a Medusa face – was, it is said, taken from Roman ruins where the Versace children used to play. Medusa makes people fall in love with her, according to the myth, and they find they have no way to return to their former lives. Experiencing all that Palazzo Versace Dubai has to offer will change your life. There are few hotels better than this.

Palazzo Versace Dubai Hotel & Residences is set in the heart of the Culture Village on the historic Dubai Creek. This five-star hotel has 215 hotel rooms and suites, and 169 residences – each designed exclusively by the House of Versace – as well as eight restaurants and bars, and three outdoor pools. A deluxe room costs from £575 night (based on two sharing on a room-only basis excluding taxes). For more information, call +97145568888 or email


An evening with Arabia Adventures in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve costs approximately £175 per person. For more information, call +971 4 303 4888 or email