There’s no shortage of quality hotels in Abu Dhabi. Whether you’re looking for a desert resort, a boutique designer hotel or a photo-friendly property that will make your friends envious, the emirate caters for just about every traveller.
This boutique hotel in Al Bateen, a five-minute drive from the city centre, is the first EDITION property in the Middle East. It comprises two glass box-like structures – one housing the hotel and the other, the residences. Encased in metal latticework and connected by a walkway, the 198-room waterfront establishment is stylish and comfortable. The lobby features plush sofas, a peach palette, dim lighting and a mesmerising kinetic art installation. There are three signature eateries operated under the watchful eye of British celebrity chef Tom Aikens, a three-level Annex entertainment space, a luxe spa and two pools.
This luxurious five-star, 394-room establishment oozes opulence and is dripping in gold. The grandeur of the hotel, which sits proudly on the western end of the Corniche and often plays host to global dignitaries and Hollywood celebrities, is apparent inside and out. Indeed, the luxury begins at the check-in counter, where all female guests are presented with a long-stemmed red rose. You can also sip on a world-renowned gold cappuccino, savour a gold-encrusted ice cream or get a gold facial. Rooms and suites are palatial in size and style, with stately marble bathrooms and well-appointed furnishings. If bling is your thing, this is the place to be.
The 21,500-square-foot (1,997-square-meter) Bedouin-inspired spa is the centrepiece of this Venetian-inspired creekside hotel in Al Maqta, which is two miles (3.2 kilometres) from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With a separate entrance, valet parking and private beach access, ESPA is a haven for relaxation. The grandiose 500-plus-room hotel provides guests views of the mosque across the creek and an impressive selection of restaurants, both within the hotel and at the nearby Venetian Village dining precinct. Rooms are luxurious yet comfortable, and each comes with a terrace. It’s an ideal choice for those who enjoy refined luxury.
The Park Hyatt is the standout on the exclusive Saadiyat Island beach strip, and its 5.5mi (8.8km) stretch of white, sandy beach and outdoor pool are enough to attract plenty of tourists. Located 20 minutes from the city centre, the 306-room hotel has a laid-back vibe, offering guests calmness and sophistication in equal measure. The rooms have terraces, and some even boast private plunge pools. This island sanctuary also has beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning views of the Arabian Gulf alongside several restaurants, including a steakhouse, beach café, tea house and an all-day dining venue that specialises in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s great if you are keen on a beach holiday not too far from the action.
The ‘Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi’ – with its 18-degree tilt that holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s farthest leaning tower – has to be the city’s most recognisable hotel. The 189-room hotel occupies floors 18 to 33 of the building and is a bit like an art museum thanks to the fashionable gallery space at the entrance, designed to show the works of local artists alongside the hotel’s futuristic aesthetic. Guests check in on the 19th floor, a space designed to encourage socialisation; it features a co-working area and coffee bar. Rooms provide views of the city and the Arabian Gulf, and the sky-high infinity pool is a showstopper, especially at sunset.
This gilded tower at the western end of the city’s Corniche is the most Arabesque hotel of all. The five-star property’s gleaming facade makes it immediately recognisable in the neighbourhood it calls home, one that is also home to the Presidential Palace, Emirates Palace and the Founder’s Memorial. The 677-room establishment blends traditional artisanship with contemporary appeal and is heavily inspired by Moroccan and Emirati style. There’s a majlis (sitting place) at the back of the lobby, while photographs of Sheikh Zayed set the scene for the welcoming lobby that’s home to falaj-like water features. Expect a truly fairy tale-like experience here.
The Beach Rotana may be one of the oldest hotels in the city, but it isn’t any less popular than its newer counterparts. From its position at the centre of the Tourist Club, this iconic property offers direct access to the Abu Dhabi Mall, one of the emirate’s most popular shopping centres. With 12 restaurants to call its own and attractive views of Al Maryah Island and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, this hotel is a comfortable and affordable choice. The private beach and roped-off bayside swimming area will appeal to the water lovers, while the elaborate spa is a luxurious escape if you want some me time. The domed lobby, warm Arabian hospitality and framed Islamic carpet squares on the walls in the rooms provide local appeal. It’s a great spot for those who enjoy retail therapy and like being centrally located.
Escape from the city at Zaya Nurai Island, a villa resort just 10 minutes from the city centre. Reachable by speedboat, the island is like nothing else in the emirate, and traversing it takes about an hour, with bicycles available for guests. The resort’s bright, modern beachfront villas (which contain between one and six bedrooms) offer king-size beds, private pools and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coast. There are many photo-friendly spots scattered across the landscape, too, including an overwater swing set-up, tipi-style beach tents and an oversized sunglasses installation. Dining options are varied, with Mexican, seafood and poolside snacks sure to appeal to most guests, and other facilities, including a luxury spa, make this a perfect getaway.
You might recognise this hotel from Star Wars: The Force Awakens – it was used as a backdrop in many scenes. The drive to this hotel, which is two hours from the city, sets the stage for what’s beyond the gates to this Bedouin-style resort. Surround yourself with desert landscape as far as the eye can see, and when you’re not sandboarding, dune-bashing or scaling the Sunset Dune, watch the resort’s falcon and saluki show. For a true Arabian Nights experience, opt for private desert dining or have a meal at the purpose-built camp, Al Falaj.
Enjoy a soirée atop the highest helicopter pad in the emirate at The St Regis Abu Dhabi, and when you’re done, pull up a pew at the bar, where you can sip on a signature bloody mary. The colour palette of this classy hotel on the Corniche reflects the desert landscape and uses its calligraphy artworks and Islamic geometric, motif-inspired decor to give it an injection of flair. The butler service is as slick as you’d expect from a hotel of this calibre, and the adjoining Nation Riviera Beach Club, with its private beach, lap pool and Treasure Island kids’ club, is one of the city’s best. It’s a great central choice within walking distance of the family beach, Emirates Palace, the Nation Towers shopping complex and public transport.
The star of the show at this creekside property in the Al Maqta area is the pool and the purpose-built floating abra (traditional boat) waterway that connects it to the adjoining souk (market). Sitting directly opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri offers spectacular views, and the expansive property itself is a sight to behold. The design echoes traditional Islamic architecture, with the exterior having arched balconies and the lavish interiors featuring large chandeliers and ornate Islamic carvings. The beautiful CHI, The Spa is a buggy ride away, and all the rooms have their own terraces. A 10-minute drive from the airport and 15 minutes from the city centre, this is an elegant and highly convenient base.