The Best Luxury Hotels in Abu Dhabi

Outdoor dining at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort
Outdoor dining at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort | Courtesy of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara / Expedia
Photo of Judy Cogan
27 January 2021

Over the past five decades, the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, has transformed from a quiet fishing village to one of the world’s most extravagant destinations. Covering more than 200 islands, the city offers views of the Persian Gulf, year-round sunshine, futuristic architecture and eclectic Arabian culture. Only here can you sleep in a palace, swim in an infinity pool overlooking the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque or have your butler arrange a heady supper on a helipad.

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort

Resort, Hotel
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Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
Courtesy of Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort / Expedia
At the Jumeirah, you’ll find three infinity pools, an impressive spa and a tennis court. However, it’s nature lovers who will be in their element, with hawksbill turtles seen at the hotel during breeding season. Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island is one of the first resorts in the region to ban single-use plastics (every guest is given a refillable water bottle) and sustainability shines through the minimalist design and use of natural fabrics. This hotel stands alone on east Saadiyat beach and a trip into the city centre takes just 10 minutes by car — nobody walks in this city.
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W Abu Dhabi Yas Island

Hotel, Luxury
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W Abu Dhabi Yas Island
Courtesy of W Abu Dhabi Yas Island / Expedia
Secure a front-row seat to Abu Dhabi’s F1 racing at the five-star W Abu Dhabi Yas Island. Suites have floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the race track or marina — popular with petrol-heads and all-night party crew during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Each room comes with a pillow menu, mood-light and luxurious rain showers. Relax in the two-storey spa after the high-octane fun — which includes a hammam, steam room, colour therapy booth and indulgent treatments.
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Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Hotel
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Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Courtesy of Fairmont Bab Al Bahr / Expedia
In a city full of hotels striving to stand out from the crowd, this is one of the most recognisable, thanks to its sheer blue glass exterior and LED lights. Water lovers will appreciate the hotel’s Olympic-sized swimming pool and private beach, not to mention its views of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Dining options here peak at Marco Pierre White’s signature steak restaurant. There’s also a health club and beauty studio, fully equipped gym and kids’ club.
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Emirates Palace, Al Ras Al Akhdar

Suite Hotel, Hotel, $$$
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Emirates Palace
Courtesy of Emirates Palace / Expedia
If you’ve ever daydreamed about sleeping in an Arabian palace, here’s your chance to live it. This lavish property is bigger than Buckingham Palace and boasts the largest dome in the world. Inside, the interiors are dripping in gold — 6,000sqm (65,000sqft) of 22-karat gold leaf to be precise. Even a standard room is fit for royalty with satin fabrics, fresh flowers and cavernous marble bathrooms. You can choose from 13 award-winning restaurants, including the Emirati establishment Mezlai and international chain Hakkasan. Try the hotel’s signature 24-karat gold camel burger before you leave.
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Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Resort, Hotel
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Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort
Courtesy of Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort / Expedia

This mesmerising resort in Rub Al Khali – the world’s largest sand desert – was designed to reflect traditional Bedouin forts of yesteryear. A two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi city centre, the 12-year-old property has 140 rooms, 14 suites and 52 pool villas, full of Arabesque luxury, from Egyptian cotton linens to the marble decor and bespoke art. Each room provides you with desert views alongside a deep soaking bath, rain shower and a pillow menu. After soaking up the rays by the pool, head to the Bedouin camp-style restaurant, Al Falaj, for Arabian mezze and slow-cooked lamb.

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Rixos Saadiyat Island

Luxury
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Rixos Saadiyat Island
Courtesy of Rixos Saadiyat Island / Expedia

This beachfront property from Turkish brand Rixos Hotels is in good company on Saadiyat Island, an exclusive coastal strip located 20 minutes from the central business district and just down the road from the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Built to resemble an Ottoman Palace, this 378-room resort – the only all-inclusive hotel in the UAE – exudes opulence. Dazzling suede interiors in emerald greens and the glittering chandeliers elevate the palatial style of this rich space. There are seven international restaurants onsite, as well as a dedicated shisha lounge, an expansive private beach, a luxurious Turkish-inspired day spa with traditional hammam and ice cave, plus a kids’ Aqua Park with a wave pool.

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Zaya Nurai Island

Resort
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Zaya Nurai Island
Courtesy of Zaya Nurai Island / Expedia
Begin your Bond-style experience here by boarding a 20-seater speed boat from the resort’s welcome centre on Saadiyat Island and zip across to this private island resort. There are 34 villas set within a secluded, sandy landscape – even the smallest comes with a private garden, pool and king-sized bed. In the bathroom, deep-soaking tubs, walk-in rain showers and Molton Brown products come as standard. Six wonderful restaurants include Middle Eastern cuisine (Frangipani), seafood (Hooked) and Mexican (Dusk). Lap up the blingy, barefoot luxury vibes.
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Four Seasons Al Maryah Island

Hotel, Luxury
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Four Seasons Al Maryah Island
Courtesy of Four Seasons Al Maryah Island / Expedia
The Four Seasons Abu Dhabi is industrious in its efforts to send eyebrows skywards and jaws to the floor. Its waterfront spot on Al Maryah Island offers incredible views of ‘old’ Abu Dhabi and the dome-shaped Louvre museum. For ultimate opulence, book the Royal Suite. It is 267sqm (2,900sqm) of pure luxury, decorated with crystal chandeliers, hand-painted silks, Arabian motifs and towering marble fireplaces. The floor-to-ceiling windows give it the ‘wow’ factor.
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St Regis Abu Dhabi Corniche

Hotel
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St Regis Abu Dhabi Corniche
Courtesy of St Regis Abu Dhabi / Expedia
When it comes to luxurious hotels, St Regis Abu Dhabi really knows what it’s doing. Book the show-stopper Abu Dhabi Suite, positioned on a sky bridge high above the city, that is also the setting for the indulgent monthly Brunch in the Clouds. Enjoy a pre-dinner glass of champagne in the Crystal Lounge. Dining highlights include the fancy-froth of Italian restaurant Villa Toscana, and seafood with an NYC edge at Catch. Don’t forget to ask your butler about the Helipad Sunset Supper hosted 255m (800ft) in the air.
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  • The Abu Dhabi Edition

    Boutique Hotel
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    The Abu Dhabi Edition
    Courtesy of The Abu Dhabi Edition / Expedia

    Gloriously stylish, this Ian Schrager-designed hotel brings a unique boutique style to Abu Dhabi. The Edition is one of just two hotels in the twinkling Al Bateen marina district of the city – within walking distance of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Centre and a range of cafes and restaurants. A red carpet leads you into a lobby that’s more akin to a luxurious living room than an entryway. The three-storey standalone Annex complex is a unique entertainment space, and the trio of restaurants – Market at Edition, Oak Room and Alba Terrace – come under the direction of British celebrity chef Tom Aikens, his first culinary foray in the UAE.

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    Rosewood Abu Dhabi

    Luxury
    Map View
    Rosewood Abu Dhabi
    Courtesy of Rosewood Abu Dhabi / Expedia
    The extravagant glassy architecture of the 34-storey Rosewood Abu Dhabi was inspired by the Arabian Gulf and undulating desert, naturally. You can expect sophisticated interiors, friendly staff and restaurants such as Dai Pai Dong (Cantonese), Sambusek (Lebanese) and the all-day dining restaurant Aqua. The Hidden Bar replicates an indulgent gin den, while La Cava is an underground wine cellar. All four categories of accommodation offer impressive views and are flooded with natural light.
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    Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri

    Resort, Hotel
    Map View
    Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri
    Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri / Expedia
    One of the Shangri-La’s most impressive assets is the view of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Its location on the banks of the historic Al Maqta waterway that separates Abu Dhabi from the mainland – amid a cluster of other five-star hotels and a traditional souk – is a luxury in itself. This is paired with the fact that no other hotel in the capital has its own abra (traditional wooden boats) and meandering waterway to ride through. Among the 213 rooms, there are also six four-bedroom villas with their own private pools. All come with butler service as standard. The hotel is just 10 minutes’ drive from the airport and 15 minutes by car from the Corniche.
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    Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas

    Hotel
    Map View
    Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, Abu Dhabi
    Courtesy of Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas / Expedia
    The Park Hyatt gets five stars for luxury, but also location. It’s just 10 minutes from the CBD, across the road from the 18-hole Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and has its own white sandy beach. Standard ocean-view rooms are ample in size with private balconies. All villas, beach view suites and garden suites have private plunge pools. Start your day with laps of the 25m outdoor pool and end it with lobster tempura and steak at The Park Bar and Grill.
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    The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

    Hotel
    Map View
    The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi
    Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal / Expedia
    This Venetian-style grande dame boasts huge landscaped gardens, a private beach and a large Bedouin-inspired spa. Positioned on one of the city’s oldest waterways, it has expansive views across the canal and towards Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Inside, you’ll find glistening statement chandeliers, plush lounges and marble flooring, alongside a resident pianist. All 447 rooms offer stunning views and contemporary interiors, not to mention 400-thread-count linens and Asprey toiletries. A destination in its own right, the main building is a short walk from Venetian Village, a waterfront leisure centre offering additional dining options, and a great jumping-off point for exploring some of the other great restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
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    This is an updated version of an article originally written by Melinda Healy.

    These recommendations were updated on January 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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