XVA, Dubai $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
One of Dubai's most respected contemporary art galleries, XVA opened in 2003 within the 100-year-old neighborhood of Bastakiya, first settled by Persian traders who built the original town of wind-towered houses along the creek, a stone's throw from the Fahidi Fort Museum and the old souk. The main gallery operation has decamped to the Dubai International Financial Center. Now the two Bastakiya courtyard houses, built of coral-colored stone and accented by dark wooden furniture and potted plants, comprise an amalgamation of ground-floor temporary exhibition space, six art-themed hotel rooms, and a vegetarian café serving a basic but fresh menu of soups, sandwiches, salads, and XVA's signature mint lemonade. Artsy expatriates are drawn to XVA, especially on a Wednesday, when it plays host to offbeat art-house films and lectures (Brazilian author Paulo Coelho chose XVA for the launch and reading of his book The Witch of Portobello). The Moroccan-riad-style rooms, with Wi-Fi, are airy, minimalist, and slightly snug; each was decorated by a local or regional designer, including Lebanese furniture-maker Nada Debs and Essa, a Dubai couturier. The service is friendly though a bit languid. This is not the hotel for guests looking for a luxury five-star experience, and dining and entertainment options are severely limitedbut at least this will ensure you leave the confines of the hotel to explore the city, which can only be a good thing.—Updated by Susan Hack
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