It has been a dream of mine to organise a travel, cultural and inner retreat where I would hold my integrated arts workshop at a cultural space, where participants can come together and enjoy the cultural space of that city, explore the heritage and then have a great time with my integrated arts workshops.
That part of my dream came true, when I was offered an opportunity for a night’s stay at Ahmedia Guest House, next door to the 100 year old Ahmedia School, in Deira, Dubai. Did you know that most people in Dubai don’t even know that a guest house/hotel that is probably 60 years old actually exists. The school next to it just celebrated its centenary! For me, this is key as it reminded me of my own cultural roots that were born in Abu Dhabi. And having lived opposite the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi, the Arabic heritage and culture found its way through my veins and even to this day.
When you check into the Ahmedia Guest House, do not expect a 6 star hotel. Just expect your stress to disappear, while you are surrounded by hospitable staff, quiet spaces without the noise of the city traffic. Cobbled streets outside the Guest House are a bit reminiscent of Bastakiya area, if you are familiar with that.
Ahmedia Heritage Guest House is not really known amongst tourists and expatriates. Considering that Dubai is known for its amazing shopping and skyscrapers, it was really pleasant to experience something off the beaten track. The Al Ras metro station is just 3 minutes walk away. The minute I entered the guest house, I felt all the stress ebb away. The fountain piece in the centre of the guest house made me feel like I was near a calming waterfall. The guest house has a central space around which the whole house and the rooms are built. For someone who loves 5* hotels and the luxury, I was happy to experience the guest house’s comfort. Clean surroundings. I loved my bedroom which had a wooden ceiling. At night, it was really very quiet and blissful. No peak hour traffic noise. But one thing that really had me laughing was trying to fit the heavy key to my room into my handbag. The lock and keys and the doors are as ancient as I am.
I loved the way that the management, even though they have renovated the place, have still held on to the old architectural designs, doors and windows. The staff are very friendly and professional. Breakfast was basic and so was the lunch/dinner menus. But if you want something more in terms of eating, just catch the metro to Bur Juman centre- which is what I did. All in all, a must for those that want to experience the old parts of Dubai, that are close to the Bastakiya area, creek and Gold Souq. I walked beyond the Al Ras Metro station to the corniche. To my right, at a distance, I could see the Hyatt hotel.
A bit more about the restoration. I believe that the floors were made of hardened soil, but in order to ensure occupancy in this day and age, they have had to renovate quite a bit. Which explains why my room boasts of a modern bathroom, and amenities, while keeping aspects of the old heritage in place.