A second Rove for Dubai: self-conscious branding works

Emaar Hotels is investing heavily in its Rove brand, with half a dozen openings anticipated this year and three more due to open by 2020. The second Rove has just opened in Deira, joining the spectacularly successful Rove Downtown (opposite Dubai Mall).

As a brand Rove is well worth a second look for travellers and visitors, maybe even for longer stays. In a city stuffed full of luxury hotels and dated apartotels, Rove is a three- or four-star option with prices to match. The step down from luxury status is reflected in the absence of doormen and flunkies, the canteen-style restaurant, and the preference for lively funkiness over Swarovski and chandeliers.

But personal experience confirms that the rooms are quiet, roomy enough to work in, and very comfortable, with a god bed, powerful showers and decent towels. You get a (small) pool and a gym. There’s lockable self-storage for your baggage – no conventional concierge service – and a useful laundry room for travellers. There’s free wi-fi too. So there’s not much sense of compromise here.

We’re referencing Rove because part of the positioning involves an emphasis on art and design. “Rove City Centre, much like its predecessor, celebrates local culture with a twist,” says the bumf. Capsule Arts has been involved in sourcing art for the walls and filling the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ display – lots of artefacts on the theme of travel generally and Dubai in particular.

There are installations and artworks by several locally-based artists, including art Khalid Al Mezaina, Alia Al Shamsi, Ozan Akkayaand, Mira Mortada, and corridor panels by Ape Creative. It’s also a pleasure to find Ruben Sanchez in evidence; it’s been a while …

Checkin at Rove City Centre. Much art and design in evidence, but not in your face
Check-in at Rove City Centre. Much art and design in evidence, but not in your face

But most of the art is basically intended as interior design, which is probably what you should expect from a hotel – there won’t be too much that attracts the chin-stroking aesthete, but there is a lot that adds to the general ‘urban’ feel of the environment. The choice of wall- and floor-coverings, the seating, even the taps in the bathrooms is a very conscious contribution to the image and to Rove’s aspirations.

Rove’s design team has avoided the self-consciously hip approach of similar hotels elsewhere. At the same time, the designers have generally played safe; there isn’t much wow-factor here. But it’s bright, light, unfussy, family-friendly and a generally refreshing alternative.

Rove City Centre has 270 rooms and views over the Creek. Chris Newman, COO at Emaar Hospitality Group, has described the Rove Hotels identity as focussing on “delivering highly engaging cultural experiences”. It’s already looking like a commercial success, and it’s definitely a clear design concept that works equally well within its parameters.

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