Dubai’s traditional lifestyle from the mid-19th century until the 1970s is hard to imagine today. Today, it's known for its high rises, flashy cars, high end shopping and pretty much any fashionable restaurant and club your heart desires; however, it all looked a little different not too long ago.
The Al-Fahidi Historical Neighborhood reflects the traditional way of living back then, and allows you to, if only for a day, immerse yourself into Dubai’s history. The district – neighboring the divan of His Highness Monarch of Dubai – has become somewhat of a cultural and creative oasis. Art cafes, little museums, art galleries and boutique hotels have made the neighborhood lively and colorful again.
This weekend, we took a little stroll through the small narrow streets in Al Fahidi in search of what we have been told is an absolute must-see: the XVA Gallery Hotel and Café.
The former family home, then owned by the Seddiqi family, has been turned into an absolutely exciting and unexpected 14-room boutique hotel with an art gallery, design shop and a breathtaking café situated in one of its three courtyards.
If you have been to Dubai in the summertime and have experienced this impressive mixture of shocking temperatures and humidity, you will fully understand that we immediately made our way to a shady spot with air-conditioning to order their infamous mint lemonade to cool down. Let me tell you this.. you will not find a minty-er and fresher lemonade anywhere else in this city.
No matter which spot you choose, you are constantly surrounded by unexpected and exciting art works. The atmosphere is immediately soothing and relaxed and you almost lose track of time. Even the self-proclaimed master of the courtyard – the hotel cat MarMar – seems to have found her haven there, stretching and lounging wherever and however pleases her.
The Mediterranean inspiring cuisine is mostly vegetarian with a few fish dishes including tuna, but don’t be fooled, you will definitely not leave hungry. On a mission to TASTE as much as we possibly could, we ordered several dishes across the menu. Quinoa and bulgur salads, eggplant with feta cheese and a modern take on the traditional Kebbeh (pumpkin kebbeh).
All dishes were wiped clean, as they were even more delicious than they sounded. The ingredients were fresh and the food was light; it was the perfect lunch for a summer day. Of course, worry not, we did try the dessert as well, an apricot saffron cheesecake – YES !
After the hearty meal we do advise to take some time to digest, order a tea or coffee and laze around a bit (a la MarMar).
The XVA gallery Café truly has been one of the most beautiful places we have visited in Dubai, its unique character is refreshing in this town. Once the weather is a little more bearable Museeum will definitely be back to explore the rest of the space and enjoy a sunset lemonade in the courtyard – and no, you may not spike it since the hotel is alcohol-free.
We look forward to exploring what else we could SEE, TOUCH and LISTEN to at the XVA gallery Hotel.