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Tucked away beyond a small alleyway in the heart of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, XVA Gallery Art Hotel and Café is truly deserving the hidden gem accolade. A project of passion by Mona Hauser, who started the business 11 years ago, the hotel doubles as an art gallery that features works by artists who are chosen “serendipitously”.
The property is tricky to find and even when you stumble into one of the hotel’s three courtyards, you’d be forgiven for still feeling lost, since the hospitality venue’s name plaques on the walls are dark and subtle. Seeing a staff member pass through the courtyard wearing XVA’s distinctive uniform — a black-and-gold Tshirt — could be a hint that you’ve arrived.
The café is set in a quiet, tranquil and delightfully cooled outdoor space that tends to attract couples or people who come alone to work or read. Hauser says many guests come and sit for hours to feel inspired.
The lush foliage, the striking red of an arterial iron sculpture and the blues that beam out from photographic works on the walls are a delight to the senses and add to the stimulating character of the venue.
Original works by artists from the Arab world, Iran and the Indian subcontinent adorn the walls of the café and the small art gallery. The art venue was running an exhibition titled Butterflies in my Stomach when I visited, showcasing the works of women artists Debjani Bhardwaj, Saba Masoumian and Barbara Wildenboer, who use a dreamlike expression to celebrate the surreal and the natural world.
The exhibitions change monthly and Hauser says artists have to vie for spots. If you’re watchful, you could catch artists visiting the café to pitch their work to Hauser. Other artists who have exhibited their artworks at the charming gallery were discovered randomly and some at international art fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong.
It’s the finishing touches and attention to detail that make this café so charming — even the menu covers, painted by Hauser herself, are brilliant pieces of modern art.
And lest we forget, the café has a delectable menu. The food is entirely vegetarian and is just as creative and inventive as the paintings, photographs and sculptures that adorn the place. A standout dish is the aubergine burger filled with salad and feta. It’s a light, healthy and innovative take on the hamburger that should not be overlooked.
XVA Gallery Art Hotel and Café is a real sanctuary from the bustle of the streets of Dubai. A wonderful stop-off for a light, healthy bite, strong coffee and some inspiring art.
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Source: Melanie Smith, Special to Property Weekly
XVA Gallery, Art Hotel and Café is located near the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi district.
Timings: 7am-7pm daily
The typical rate of rental property in the neighbourhood is around Dh60 per square foot.
This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct in their own way. It could be a quaint little café or simply a charming lake. If it’s got character and brings a smile to your face, it’s a hidden gem that will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at email@example.com.