Dressed For Christmas

Serviced apartments are not as much of a cushy life as you might think. Our temporary residence in Dubai claims to be “hotel apartments” and our last home in Bahrain “serviced apartments”. The main difference seems to be that in a hotel they “service” the apartment most days whereas in Bahrain it was twice a week. Living for month or more in a serviced apartment as opposed to holidaying at Butlins for a couple of weeks means you don’t spend your days exploring or lounging on the beach and aren’t eating out every night so you’d expect them to be equipped to meet different needs… not necessarily:

On the plus side its easy to move into a fully furnished servicd apartment with just a suitcase of clothes but don’t expect everything to be a home from home. The modern boxy sofa in Dubai has so little padding in its seat that after a short period of lounging the frame starts to wheedle its way into your consciousness. In the bedroom when both of us sit up in bed the frame and mattress slide across the tiled floor creating an ever-widening gap between the base and the headboard. Another place we can’t lounge in comfort!

Spot the Mysteriously Missing Pillow

There is a reason why hotels have fitted carpets, they deaden noise. Here in the dusty, dry climate, the passion for tiled floors and a few rugs makes cleaning easy. But it also means that every movement of dining chairs and other furniture in flats around us or late evening homecomers in the main corridor echoes through the surrounding flats, I miss the multiple doors we had in Bahrain that meant that only two flats shared a lobby. It also has to be said that the double glazing in the Dubai building is a poor noise insulator so we sleep to the hum of traffic on the nearby motorway and are woken by construction work commencing before 7am.

Decent Sized Kitchen

As previously mentioned provided kitchen equipment may not match your needs or be up to scratch. The Belvedere in Bahrain provided a comprehensive set of fairly new saucepans whereas the MiNC offering is tired with non-stick peeling off  and sizes more suited to catering for a family of ten than the four people the apartment accomodates. Both places offered blunt knives and in Dubai I’ve had to ask for a replacement clothes airer to ensure we didn’t end up with rust marks on everything. In Bahrain I purchased one as the washer drier rapidly became the enemy in the kitchen.T-towels, dish cloths and other kitchen sundires are not provided and the crockery may not suit your habits – cereal/soup bowls and mugs being a key short coming for a European. On the funny side five of the six spoons supplied as desert spoons are the size of a UK tablespoon! Don’t think I’d want to fill my suitcase with mugs, bowls and a potato peeler though.

Bathroom: Style Won Over Practicality

Anyone who has stayed in a hotel in recent years has become used to instructions to hang up your towels to reuse or leave them on the floor/in the bath to request new ones. The aim of saving laundry costs is dressed up as the guest being more eco friendly. Not a chance here, most days the bedding and towels are changed and mysteriously one of the pillows vanished during one bed change! In both places only one thin pillow per head was supplied but at least in Dubai they have happily supplied additional ones. The Bahrainis provided one set of bed linen per bed and, as the “enemy in the kitchen” was too small,  residents used the self-service laundry to wash and dry them as required.

I joked on Facebook earlier this week about how many men does it take to service an apartment… the answer here is three and the job they do is purely superficial. The bathrooms, and there are two and half of them (the half being a guest loo) sport glass washbasins on glass stands with stainless steel supports, not ideal for easy cleaning and showing up every last bit of dust, rust and soap splashes. Corners of the kitchen and bathroom floors are filling up with dirt the daily mopping never reaches, whilst elsewhere net curtains, essential as most windows are overlooked by nearby apartments, don’t look as if they ever been laundered, their headings are nearer black than cream. Come back the lovely young man at the Belverdere who was scupulous in his efforts and left our apartment spick and span twice a week even if he never hoovered under the heavy beds!  

Long term living also requires you make your own entertainment in the evening, we packed a set of playing cards for Dubai as based on our Bahrain experience we rightly guessed that the TV fodder wouldn’t be up to much. Most TV services in the Middle East are distributed by satellite with apartment blocks like ours paying for a limited set of services. Hence our Dubai apartment has a lengthy list of stations but the actual available choice is limited to a few news channels like BBC World and Al Jezeera plus Dubai One and some movie channels. After a Brit style curry at the Brick Lane cafe last night we watched “Ella Enchanted” as the provided network connection isn’t up to streaming of programmes via a UK VPN, an option open to us in Bahrain.

Living Room
Second Bedroom Has A Balcony