In Abu Dhabi, the concept of having it all is a tangible reality. Merging Arabic tradition and splendid modernity in equal measure, Abu Dhabi offers unlimited sunshine, world-class attractions, and a reputation for being the United Arab Emirates’ cultural heartbeat. Perched on a collection of 200 islands off the mainland in the Persian Gulf, the UAE’s capital city has its focus on oil exports and commerce, something that is reflected in the soaring skyline and mega shopping centres such as Abu Dhabi, The Galleria and Marina Malls. Exclusive hotels and a myriad of theme parks and recreational centres makes Abu Dhabi one of the most developed cities in the Middle East.
The largest mosque in the country, The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers, exquisite mosaic designs and capacity for 41,000 worshipers beneath its white-marble domes. Located in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District you will find The Louvre Abu Dhabi and the site for the much anticipated Zayed National Museum (opening 2022) and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (opening 2025). Yas Marina is the backdrop of the car racing circuit and where Ferrari World brings action-packed entertainment to dedicated fans. The pristine beaches and glamorous marinas are testament to the lifestyle of this cosmopolitan city. Seek out the oldest building in Abu Dhabi, the Al-Hosn Fort, constructed in 1793. The Heritage Village is a replica Bedouin village with a collection of handicrafts and artefacts reflective of traditional Emirati life. Shopping enthusiasts can indulge to their heart’s content at the impressive malls and colourful souks, where a variety of luxury brands, antiques, perfumes and hand-loomed kilim rugs are to be found.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi:
Rosewood Abu Dhabi - 9/10
Al Maryah Island's statement piece, the Rosewood Abu Dhabi offers superb luxury with attentive service. Set in a sleek 34-story glass tower, the design contrasting boldly with the warm furnishings of the 148 guest rooms and 41 suites. Spacious and styled for comfort, the rooms are artfully decorated with subtle tones of dark wood and natural materials, offset by Arabian-inspired fabrics and Pratesi Egyptian cotton linen. Each is equipped with high-tech systems and ergonomically designed workspaces, while the bathrooms have twin vanities, a rain shower and oversized Villeroy & Boch bath. The Manor Club rooms are worth the upgrade and give you access to the Executive Lounge where you will find a superb breakfast each morning, evening cocktail hour and top-notch service.
The hotel’s eight restaurants and lounges offer distinctive experiences that range from authentic dining to worldwide cuisines, with La Cava and the Hidden Bar welcome hide-outs. The striking lobby has water features and multi-textured walls, and the swimming pool area is exceptionally chic with its artificial island of palm trees and Arabian mashrabiya-like embellishments that shade the lounge area and aptly named poolside bar, Glo. In a tranquil environment is Sense, A Rosewood Spa, with an extensive range of indulgent therapies, treatments, and services.
Embracing expansive views of the city skyline and towards the Arabian Gulf, is the 34-storey Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island. The 200 rooms and suites are bright and airy with abundant natural light from the floor to ceiling windows. The sophisticated interiors include the legendary Four Seasons Bed, a plush sofa for relaxing, and desk that doubles as a dining table. Filled with creamy tones and art deco accents, the speciality suites are showstoppers with luxurious silk wallpaper, marble bathrooms, glass-enclosed rain showers, big oval baths and Ferragamo products. The Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi includes six innovative restaurants and lounges including the steakhouse Butcher & Still, Café Milano, and cocktail bar Zsa Zsa – each with an expansive outdoor terrace.
The Dahlia Spa has eight treatment suites – including one couples’ suite. It has a swimming pool with elevated views that is an all-day laid-back place to be. Contemporary and glossy, the property is laden with white marble and pearl influences – reminding of the UAE’s pearl-diving heritage. Check out the hotel’s stunning 2,000-piece art collection, starting with the seven column-like pieces in the vibrant lobby representing the seven emirates of the UAE. The property’s commitment to eco-sustainability and minimising its environmental impact is felt throughout.
From renowned attractions to on-property features, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is at the centre of it all. Set against the backdrop of the Grand Mosque and located within ten Venetian-inspired buildings that curve around one of the city’s largest outdoor swimming pools, this striking hotel offers an authentic five-star experience. It is located just minutes away from the city centre. Inspired by Renaissance architecture, the resort is set within 20 hectares of lush gardens. Merging modern elegance with rich traditions are the impressive chandeliers, marble floors and comfortably regal furnishings. The use of leaves in the design is a nod to the Islamic culture.
Accommodation is in 447 rooms and suites, and 85 private villas. Standard rooms have a lounge area and separate bedroom with a balcony. Bathrooms are filled with marble, with separate bath, shower, and double sinks. The linens are 400 thread count, and Asprey-branded toiletries add to the spoils. The Southeast Asian restaurant Li Jiang is the pick of the hotel’s eight dining outlets. Mijana serves traditional Arabic fare and there is a notable steak restaurant, The Forge and a casual dining outlet, Al Fresco. Spend the day on the beach or lounging next to the impressive pools, or speak to the concierge about the many activities offer from the water’s edge.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – 9/10
Located in a natural bay on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi enjoys a 1.3 kilometre stretch of private beach. The palatial property is a short stroll from the city’s Corniche, a seaside promenade lined with parks, restaurants and cafés, and the hotel marina where privately chartered vessels are berthed. The 394 rooms and suites speak of absolute romantic luxury. The Coral Rooms offer views of the courtyard, while the Pearl Rooms look out towards the sea. The suites are elaborately furnished with whirlpool baths, deluxe bedding, integrated room controls, in-room entertainment, and all modern amenities. Each room comes with 24-hour butler service. There are two large swimming pools, a fitness centre and luxurious spa that wows guests with its Turkish hammam and elaborate menu that includes 24-carat gold facials and diamond-infused oils.
With 14 food and beverage outlets to choose from, you will certainly find your cuisine of choice. The sophisticated old-world charm of the Havana Club with its premium hand-rolled cigars and heady nightcaps is popular, as is The Pavillion which features panoramic sea views and an à la carte menu that includes a selection of Arabic mezze, Middle Eastern and international-inspired dishes, as well as Emirati signature dishes from Mezlai. Emirates Palace is now managed by Mandarin Oriental.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas is situated on a pristine 9 kilometre stretch of private beach on Saadiyat Island and invites sun-kissed relaxation on the Arabian Sea. The 306 luxuriously appointed rooms, suites, and private villas seamlessly blending understated elegance with regional charm. The villas, beach view and garden suites boast private plunge pools, while standard ocean-view rooms enjoy private balconies with a day-bed. Stylish and modern, the colour scheme is fresh thanks to the extensive use of whites and creams, which adds to the coastal feel. The understated design elements and soft lighting add to the ambience and each room has floor-to-ceiling windows from which to enjoy the setting. The exclusive retreat is set on an environmentally protected, natural sand beach next to the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, an 18 hole, Gary Player-designed golf course that’s just minutes from the Abu Dhabi Corniche, as well as the city’s prime business district.
The resort offers a selection of elegant restaurants. The Park Bar & Grill serves carefully selected steaks while The Café, a stylish all-day dining restaurant showcases international dishes. Enjoy Mediterranean influences with excellent views of Saadiyat Beach from the Beach House. Derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘home’, the Shala Beach Lounge is a barefoot haven with environmental mindfulness and honest cuisine. The Atarmia Spa has nine treatment rooms, separate spa areas for men and women and an outdoor 25-metre lap swimming pool. There is a beautifully manicured garden, children’s swimming pool, limousine service and business centre.
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Overlooking the sapphire blue Arabian Gulf, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi provides a serene escape just minutes from the city centre. Set on a pristine beach with Mediterranean-inspired architecture that unites contemporary interiors with natural materials, the hotel is one of the grand old dames of the exclusive Saadiyat Beach enclave. The 376 rooms & suites feature traditional décor, floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies and 24-hour butler service. Select suites have chandeliers, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, private pools and cabanas – all enjoy impressive panoramic views.
There are six restaurants spread across the resort, including the world-renowned Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi and the Mediterranean-inspired Olea. Floating among a series of interconnected pools and offering a taste of Southeast Asia is Sontaya, which serves exotic dishes complemented by signature cocktails. The Drawing Room offers both handmade sweets from the onsite pastry shop, Sucre, and savoury snacks at the legendary Afternoon Tea. Guests are invited to rejuvenate at one of the 12 Iridium Spa treatment rooms, energise in the 25-metre indoor lap pool, dip into one of the four outdoor pools, or simply soak up the sun on the private beach. The resort’s beach is so unspoiled that Hawksbill Turtles find refuge in its sand dunes and Bottlenose Dolphins are often seen playing in the surf along the shoreline.
Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara - 9/10
On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert is where Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara invites adventure in the most luxurious of ways. The castle-like exterior reflects traditional Bedouin forts of yesteryear with turrets, courtyards, and fountains. On arrival, guests cross a bridge through an arched entryway before being led into the lobby and lounge where Bedouin artefacts abound and the windows and doors have been designed with tradition in mind. Dimly lit lanterns and falaj-style water systems add to the charm. The 7000 hectare resort has 140 rooms, 14 suites and 52 pool villas. The standard Deluxe Balcony room offers uninterrupted desert views from a private balcony. The Deluxe Garden Room has a terrace from which to savour the unique setting. Rooms are subtle in their design with blends of Arabia with richly coloured rugs countering the contemporary style. Pool villas face the sunset, with the Royal Pavilion Villas – among the finest in Abu Dhabi, set half a kilometre from the resort.
For an authentic dining experience choose Al Falaj where you will sit Bedouin-style on cushions and carpets under the stars. Suhail is the rooftop restaurant and a good spot for a sunset drink. Ghadeer, the poolside Mediterranean restaurant, and Al Liwan the lobby lounge. From the hotel discover the Rub’ al Khali desert by camel or fat-tyre bicycle, sandboard down the golden slopes, and try your hand at archery. If something gentler is better suited, enjoy desert walks or unwind in the luxurious hammam at the Spa.
Zaya Nurai Island - 9/10
An incredible Island resort just a 15-minute boat ride off the shores of Abu Dhabi is Zaya Nurai Island. A jewel in Abu Dhabi’s crown, this private island is home to an ultra-luxurious resort with just 32 villas and five restaurants, including Frangipani, Hooked, Dusk, Smokin’ Pineapple and Ginger Mermaid. Frangipani offers organic and seasonal produce sourced from local farms. Set alongside the pool, Ginger Mermaid serves flawless sashimi and sushi by an expert chef. Seamlessly combining laid-back oceanside living with unrestrained Emirati gloss and glamour, the villas are huge with windows for walls, private pools and king-size beds.
Particularly stylish are the Beach Villas which line the hotel’s main strip of sand and enjoy direct access to the water. Similarly, the 5-bedroom Estate Villa abounds with natural light, offering spacious living complemented by private gardens and an infinity swimming pool. From classic pastimes like kayaking and stand up paddle boarding to thrilling pursuits like windsurfing and wakeboarding, there is something for everyone. Alternately join a yoga session, or indulge in a treatment at the exclusive Nurai Spa.
Just a short boat ride from mainland Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island is an unspoilt nature reserve in the Arabian Gulf. With 30 barasti-style luxury villas, the Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort is inspired by traditional Arabic fishing and pearl-diving villages. Offering a choice of five room categories – the one-bedroom Mangrove View, Beach View, Pool villas and a two-bedroom Anantara Pool Villa. All have their terrace and spacious bathroom with a luxurious bath, shower and dual sinks. The interiors are a blend of Emirati-style artefacts and natural designs which lend to the coastal flair. There’s an elegant beachfront swimming pool to enjoy, or opt to explore the island surroundings and catch glimpses of free-roaming wildlife. Kayak the waters, ride across the island by horseback or snorkel the protected reefs.
Guests of Al Yamm enjoy access to the facilities of Anantara sister resorts Desert Islands and Al Sahel. Indulge in a soothing massage at Al Yamm – or visit the oasis spa at Desert Islands. Al Yamm's Olio is the Italian-style beachside eatery that you can settle at for meals. The Sir Bani Yas Island is a wildlife sanctuary founded by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and home to free-roaming animals, including the near-extinct Arabian Oryx. The roaming wildlife, particularly the gazelle, peacocks and partridges, will make you appreciate that here, you’re truly immersed in nature.
Telal Resort Al Ain - 9/10
Telal Resort Al Ain is a luxury boutique resort in the heart of a natural Arabian oasis in the vast landscape of the Remah Desert. Among the ever-changing dunes that serve as the resort’s serene backdrop, you will find some of the region’s rarest species of antelope including the Domani, Reem and Arabian Oryx. Similarly, birds such as Houbara, the mute, swan, ducks, and the Canadian goose can be spotted. Accommodation is in 7 Heritage Rooms, 3 Heritage Suites and 14 tented style private villas, each individually styled with a private pool. In the Heritage Rooms, stone tiled floors, plaster walls and palm weave covered ceilings set the scene for the intricately carved, dark wood four-posters. Bathrooms are huge with twin vanity units, double-sized walk-in showers, and separate baths. The rooms are built around a shared courtyard with hammocks and traditional floor seating around open fire pits which are lit as part of the nightly turn-down service. The spacious villas are ideal for families and friends travelling together.
The resort’s Emirati restaurant, Desert Gate, serves healthy Middle Eastern-influenced cuisine. Romantic private dining options include Twilight, a dune-top cabana. Enjoy the spa, gym, and infinity pool, with activities ranging from horse and camel riding, ziplining, falconry, sandboarding, archery and wildlife safaris. Telal does not serve alcohol but guests are welcome to bring their own to enjoy in their rooms.
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