The United Arab Emirates doesn’t have an immediate association with budget-priced accommodation – the common perception is of excessive brunch banquettes, head-swivelling over-the-top interiors and enough gold slathered on to give the biggest spenders a gilt complex. But Abu Dhabi is not only for business travellers with bottomless expense accounts and billionaire long-weekenders. A lot of visitors may just be passing through, en route to a holiday of a lifetime. Accommodation is where they can shave pounds off their budgets – and Abu Dhabi has the goods. Read on for the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi on a budget.
Here in central Zone 1, you might be a 20-minute drive from the Corniche, with its designer shops and sculptural skyscrapers. Still, you’re only ten minutes from the monumental Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with its igloo-like domes and icicle-white minarets – and even closer to the lush Mangrove National Park for dreamy kayak trips through lush bird-thronged waterways. As far as this budget hotel in Abu Dhabi goes, you wouldn’t know it was on the cheaper end of the spectrum, with its huge, contemporary-sleek rooms – complete with beds that appear to float and designer kitchenettes.
With a rooftop pool and gym, as well as a choice of three opulent restaurants and lounges to dine in, this affordable five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi, located just a stone’s throw from the Corniche, is mind-bogglingly good value. Rooms are chocolate-box-luxurious, with oversized wood and padded-fabric headboards, double-height windows overlooking the city and its shimmering lagoons, and bathrooms clad in caramel-coloured granite. You’re also just minutes from the epic Abu Dhabi Mall, as well as the more traditional carpet souks and meat and fruit markets towards Zayed Port. Don’t step out without wads of notes and credit cards.
Arterial Sheik Rashid Bin Saeed Street is a dizzying sight, feeding a constant stream of Ferraris and other shiny-new supercars of the super-rich towards the Corniche. And here’s where you’ll find this five-star stunner of a budget-friendly hotel in Abu Dhabi. Rooms are bright and glossy as a Duty-Free perfume display, with white lacquer sideboards, teak-toned wood trim and accents of brushed gold. Views back across the city are so good you’ll spend most of your first day taking selfies with your back to the window. Don’t worry – Abu Dhabi is a kind of look-at-me place.
Practically within a contactless credit card range of the massive Al Wahda Mall, this 109-studio-and-suite affordable hotel is ideal if you’re looking to stretch your legs and explore the smorgasbord of sights in Abu Dhabi. It’s also only a stone’s throw from the other draws of the central downtown district. Rooms feel high-end without being OTT, with polished tiled floors, a nautical blue, white and walnut colour scheme and gleaming marble bathrooms. You’ll also be able to use the private beach belonging to the Beach Rotana hotel, just 10 minutes away. What better way to combine business and leisure?
It’s a small shame that the rooftop pool here doesn’t have a view, as it’s hemmed in by a just-too-tall wall, but that shouldn’t dim the fact that you can go for a dip bathed in golden sunlight. Inside this cheap hotel in Abu Dhabi, rooms are more of a squeeze than others mentioned on this list, but the rates are still significantly lower. And while they may be smaller by the traditional Abu Dhabi disproportionately generous standards, there’s been no expense spared in the design and the finish – with a stylish mirror-surrounded headboard to maximise the light and marble-topped bedside tables and sideboards.
This goliath of a hotel towers over its namesake shopping super-emporium, the Al Wahda Mall, like something from the Star Wars universe with its rocket booster-like towers. Inside, things are less Death Star and more film star-stylish, with a neutral biscuit-toned palette adding pop to the splashes of pastel blue, coral and green in the soft furnishings, elegantly minimal light fixtures and luxurious bathrooms. Retiring it isn’t, but you don’t come to Abu Dhabi for understatement.
Abu Dhabi’s sky-high bar for accommodation quality means that even in the more affordable hotels, you can usually expect – as standard – five-star facilities such as a spa, gym, swimming pool and restaurant. And this smaller business hotel proves the point, in the downtown banking district, not far from the central clamour of shops and restaurants. Rooms, while not visually mould-breaking – think tiramisu tones of chocolate and vanilla – are generously proportioned, crisply clean and as comfortable as you could hope to find in this manic mega-city.
If you like golf, you’ll love this hotel. In fact, if you like Formula 1, water slides, theme parks, shopping and Ferraris, you’ll love this hotel. It’s at home on Yas Island – the hub of oversized entertainment venues such as Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina F1 circuit and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. You certainly won’t get bored. The hotel itself is something of a looker, too, with calming baby pink-hued rooms delivering views over the rolling green carpet of the Yas Links Abu Dhabi golf course.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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