The four-star Indian-owned Flora Grand isn't the best hotel in town, but value-wise it's a good deal. It also has spacious rooms, which are ideal for large families. Located in the old city centre, where the atmosphere is completely different to that in other newer developing areas of the city, it retains a warm workers' feel. This wasn't one of our favourite hotels as we found the decor garish and old-fashioned. But the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
The hotel is a 'dry-hotel', meaning that there is no alcohol on sale here. The hotel is located in the old centre of town, in Deira within walking distance of the Creek. It is near Al Rigga street, where you will find various good-value eateries and fast-food restaurants. The airport is a 20 minute drive away and the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa complex is a 15 minute drive away.
The hotel has designated parking but this comes at a cost - enquire directly with the hotel as prices vary. The hotel is supposed to be undergoing a renovation, after which it should have Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. The carpets are also set to be changed to parquet. Otherwise there are six Flora hotels in the city, including Hotel Florida International, Florida Hotel Dubai, and the rest are hotel apartments.
The hotel opened in 2005 and has been fairly successful as it is a good-value hotel if you want to visit Dubai and you are on a budget. Flora is always pretty busy; especially in the lobby. Its low ceilings and heavy decor give the hotel a dark and old-fashioned aspect. Most of the facilities are on the ground floor. The restaurant is to the right of the entrance, the lobby café is in the centre of the atrium structure and the reception desk to the left. Elevators take guests up to the galleries of rooms on the upper floors. On the eighth floor is the health club, comprised of a 24 hour complimentary gym, which is extremely well-equipped for a hotel of this standard. On the ninth floor, on the roof-top, is a small hotel pool; a relief after a long hotel day, but not quite the quiet soothing lap pool you may be expecting! As with most hotel roof-top areas in Dubai, sunbathing up here is a little noisy due to surrounding traffic. The area is bland and has a few deck chairs. When the hotel is full, this area can get very cramped. Sunbathing is not recommended in the summer months, when the sun's heat is extremely strong and harmful, so do bear this in mind. What we appreciated most about the hotel is the service and the readiness of the staff to help guests. Most of the staff here is Indian, and the Indian influence can be felt in the atmosphere, which makes a welcome change from the large flashy cold sterile glass and aluminium clad hotels in the city. The seven floor hotel is easy to miss as there is nothing brash or flashy about it, but it is cosy and a good deal if you are on a budget. The food is also of good quality, and will suit you right down to a T of you are a fan of Indian food - with the chefs being Indian, the food is authentic and worth trying.
The 200 rooms are split into seven categories. The rooms are spacious, which is especially good if you are travelling with a young family or as a group. Each room has a flat-screen television, mini-bar (no alcohol), complimentary tea and coffee-making facilities. The rooms are clean and comfortable but the soft furnishings are in dire need of a change. Outdated and garish, the rooms here may not be to everyone's taste. The bathrooms, equally spacious, are well-appointed with bathtubs and gaudy tiling. The bathrooms are stocked with Flora Hotel branded toiletries. The rooms are soon to be renovated although we were not given a completion date during our visit (April 2011). The carpets are due to be changed for parquet flooring, which will give the rooms more of a contemporary look. The hotel has a high percentage of returners and long-term guests who like the spacious room sizes. The windows however do not open due to security measures. The hotel is strictly non-smoking and guests will be fined for smoking in their rooms. There is Wi-Fi internet access in the shared areas of the hotel and cable internet in the rooms - this comes at a fee.
The hotel has two food and beverage outlets: the Monsoon restaurant on the ground floor, which is the main restaurant. The restaurant is open for all three meals, when it serves buffets for all three. The food here is usually Indian, although there is a suitable range of international dishes. The Indian food, cooked by Indian chefs, is greatly appreciated by hotel guests - especially the British. The lobby coffee shop, Al Nakheel, is open throughout the day and serves drinks and snacks. The restaurant is as gaudy as the rest of the hotel, but the service is efficient. The lobby bar gets a bit hectic especially during check-in/check-out. The hotel offers room-service at an extra charge. Guests can opt for various meal plans: half-board, full-board or bed and breakfast.
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