The Queen Elizabeth 2, the legendary ocean liner from the ‘60s, is now Dubai’s luxury floating hotel. Currently on a soft opening, its grand launch is slated for October this year. Gulf Dunes was fortunate enough to have a tour of this amazing piece of history.
Upon stepping on board the ship, which is docked at Dubai’s Port Rashid, our first impression was: Wow, this feels like being part of the Titanic. The carpeted floors, low ceiling, endless staircases, labyrinthine hallways, wooden panels and the pieces of art here and there are reminiscent of the Titanic movie scenes we all fell in love with.
But as we go about the tour and start to learn about QE2’s very own story, the tales behind her lounges and spaces, how her namesake Queen Elizabeth II herself christened the liner, how she weathered storms, went to war, broke world records well into the ‘90s, hosted the British Royal Family several times along with other famous patrons such as Elizabeth Taylor, Nelson Mandela, Buzz Aldrin and David Bowie—we realize that clearly, QE2 is so much more. It is an important slice of history.
It has been 10 years since QE2 retired as an ocean liner in 2008. She was painstakingly restored and preserved, turning her into the hotel that she is now. A significant part of its spaces and venues were left in their original state, giving guests the remarkable experience of living QE2’s rich British heritage dating back to 1967.
On soft opening, she has 224 rooms available for booking; but after her grand opening in October, she will have more than 600 rooms in 13 room categories.
Now the exciting part, what’s in it for MICE?
QE2 has a total of 13 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Let us walk you through five of them:
1. The Grand Lounge
At the heart of the Upper Deck is The Grand Lounge, a cabaret style venue complete with a stage and dance floor decorated in dark red curtains, chairs and carpeting.
Back in QE2’s day, the two-deck-high Grand Lounge was used for trivia, bingo and lectures during the day, and a primary show venue at night.
Today, it is certainly open for MICE and can accommodate 200 people (and even more) for gala dinners and other programmes.
2. The Queens Room
This is a spacious multi-function room located mid-ship on the Quarter Deck. The Queen’s Room was where the ballroom dancing happened for the liner’s passengers, which was also used for receptions and parties in the evening, and for yoga and dance classes during the day.
This space can hold an event for around 310 people, and even more, considering how flexible it is.
3. The Chartroom Bar
Keeping its former name, the Chartroom Bar is one of the QE2’s favourite spots to meet, relax and catch-up over a bottle of wine or a selection of craft beers. From classic crab cakes and chicken liver mousse to cheese platters and the celebrated Eton Mess, expect a snack menu packed full of quintessential favourites.
The Chartroom Bar is a time-capsule – maintaining the same nautical interiors of its former years. Red carpeting, period lounge tables and thoughtful mood lighting are all centred around the bar that has had its original world-map reinstalled.
Adjacent to the Queen’s Room, this bar is a perfect cocktail reception area.
4. The Golden Lion
Not only does The Golden Lion look like a traditional pub, it’s arguably Dubai’s oldest. Sip on a wide selection of draught beers, enjoy live sports, play at the pool tables or try your hand at a game of darts.
From the chairs to the tables, this pub is kept in its original state with a distinctive collection of commemorative shields from the QE2’s ports of call adorning the walls.
Next to the pub is The Casino, a reimagining of the QE2’s original casino where the old slot machines (now decommissioned) serve as mementos of a bygone era.
5. The Queen’s Grill
Frequented by the Queen herself, Queen’s Grill is a must-visit dining destination. It was a tradition for the British Royal Family to entertain their guests on this part of the ship; and now that QE2 is now in Dubai, it has also become a favourite of the Emirate’s Royal Family.
This fine-dining venue is open for dinner and serves the best of refined British cuisine with a twist on the classics. A dedicated vegetarian menu is also available.
If you want to give your taste buds a flashback, have the iconic Queens Grill Tasting Menu that serves a selection of some of the exact same dishes available on the ship’s maiden voyage in 1969.
For G&T connoisseurs, a dedicated gin bar adjacent to the restaurant is well worth a visit.
Gulf Dunes Says …
We are proud to have such a historical beauty in Dubai and to have the chance to use it for our programmes. The QE2 is a unique hotel and venue option that will appeal to a lot of groups and MICE planners. Considering its number of rooms, creative dining and numerous options for bespoke spaces, we really see ourselves doing a lot of amazing events here in the future.