Abu Dhabi's Desert Gems - luxury Hotels You Should Consider
Image: Abu Dhabi Skyline Credit: Boule
Abu Dhabi, the second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, is synonymous with luxury, glamour, and culture. While Dubai often overshadows it, Abu Dhabi is the capital of the country. It serves as the country's political, cultural, and economic center and is popular with business travelers and tourists alike.
One of the richest cities in the world, it's steeped in opulence and luxury, with landmarks such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest and most famous in the world. Whether you're visiting for work or with friends and family, there's a lot to see and do in Abu Dhabi to make it a place you can stay for a few weeks without running out of exciting activities to enjoy. Abu Dhabi has a long list of hotels you can choose from, with many doing all they can to get the attention of visitors. Here's a list of some of the city's best luxury hotels.
W Abu Dhabi
Exploring F1's Top Venue
The W Abu Dhabi is situated on Yas Island and features an iconic glass bird's nest facade. Co-located with the Yas Marina Circuit, it is an excellent option for Formula 1 fans seeking the best accommodation during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. You may not find another hotel on the planet that offers such close-up views of the race cars on a purpose-built track during an F1 race. When F1 isn't in town, you can try out the track yourself in a GT race car.
Image: W Abu Dhabi Credit: FORTLOC/Khalid Bari
The hotel offers luxury rooms with beautiful views of Yas Marina. Inside, you'll find a gorgeous interior with a blend of contemporary and Arabian designs in the rooms and across the impressive range of restaurants and lounges. Also available is a luxury spa and two rooftop pools.
The W Abu Dhabi gets extra points for being close to top attractions like Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World, and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, all of which are on Yas Island. The hotel is also just a 10-minute drive from the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
The Conrad Abu Dhabi is located in the Etihad Towers and offers spectacular views of the sea from the rooms and suites. With 12 award-winning restaurants and bars, a full spa with 13 treatment rooms, three outdoor pools, and a private beach, you couldn't ask for anything better. But this is Abu Dhabi, and the bar is high.
Image: Conrad Abu Dhabi lobby Credit: Hakanyalicn
Each of the 377 sleek and stylish rooms and suites features fully integrated lifestyle tech, 24-hour room service, and stunning design features to make your stay a truly unforgettable one.
Level 45 offers the ultimate luxe option for guests who want nothing but the best. These rooms and suites offer first-class services, incredible panoramic views, and excellent leisure and business facilities.
If you plan to stay for a while, you can take advantage of the available apartments instead of the regular hotel rooms and suites.
Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental
Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental is the epitome of luxury and is reputed to be the most expensive hotel in the city. So, what do you get in return? Along with its imposing Arabian palace architecture, each of the resort's many rooms and suites is furnished to the highest standard and offers butler service any time of day or night.
Image: Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Hotel Credit: Mateus Sposito
The hotel offers eight incredible restaurants, a beautiful spa, two swimming pools, a private beach, and a private marina. The marina, which shares its name with the hotel is a superyacht haven and offers what may be the most exclusive mooring facility in the UAE.
A short distance from key Abu Dhabi tourist attractions like Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it's safe to say a stay in the city cannot be any better than one at this hotel.
Fast and Furious fans will remember the building from the Abu Dhabi scenes in Fast and Furious 7, where the hotel's grand exterior and beachfront were displayed in their full glory.
Andaz Capital Gate Hotel
There is an argument for the UAE being the country with the largest concentration of unique and spectacular high-rise buildings, so it may be pointless to claim that a particular structure is the best of them all. However, the Capital Gate building housing the Andaz makes a strong case.
Image: Capital Gate district Credit: Kazzazm
The iconic structure, which leans 18 degrees hosts this hotel which exudes contemporary luxury. Nestled in the perfect spot just 15 minutes from the airport, its proximity to the world-class Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre should draw the attention of business travelers as the center offers facilities to host large conferences and meetings.
With elegantly designed contemporary stately rooms and suites on offer, the hotel truly immerses you in the culture and lifestyle of the area. With a fitness center, spectacular outdoor pool, spa, and multiple bars and restaurants, you're spoilt for choice when staying here.
The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Located on Saadiyat Island, an island in Abu Dhabi known as the leading beach destination in the Middle East, St Regis Saadiyat Island is a world-class beach resort. Not to be mistaken for the St Regis Hotel on Corniche Street, it overlooks the clear waters of the cerulean Arabian Gulf and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, making it the ideal spot if you're a golf fan and love sea views. Few things match the tranquility of playing golf next to the incredible views of a large body of water.
Image: St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Entrance Credit: Myroslava Bozhko
The design here is more traditional and exudes luxury and comfort in all areas of the hotel. You can dine in six different restaurants, head to the spa, and make time to visit the athletic club and golf course. The ultimate experience here is at the Royal Suite, a tastefully decorated duplex occupying the upper part of the hotel. The suite offers amenities fit for royalty.
Also seize the opportunity to explore Saadiyat Island. The Island's most popular attraction is the Louvre Abu Dhabi which is within walking distance of the resort. But feel free to take luxury transportation instead. After all, you're on vacation.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort
If you're looking to live out a desert living fantasy, the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is the place to do it. The resort offers a truly unique experience where you can immerse yourself in the 'Spirit of Arabia.' Situated on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in Rub'al Khali (the Empty Quarter), it offers a secluded oasis where you can truly relax away from any sort of city life.
Image: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort Credit: Pracha Hariraksapita
However, don't let the sound of desert living fool you into thinking this can't be a luxury experience. This Anantara Group owned 140-room and 14-suite property offers all you'll expect from a 5-star resort. You can select from spacious luxurious rooms and suites or choose to stay in one of the villas close to the main resort's location. In addition, dining choices include cosmopolitan options despite the remote location.
Beyond the top-notch accommodation and services, you can enjoy a host of desert adventures here including exploration by camelback as well as a range of Moroccan hammam and desert spa activities.
Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri
The Shangri-La is a brand synonymous with contemporary luxury, and the Qaryat Al Beri Resort is no different. Situated between lush gardens and a pristine 1-kilometer-long private beach in Mussafah, it offers a calming oasis you won't ever want to leave. This location also offers a great panoramic view of the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on the other side of the water. There are 213 rooms and opulent suites, in addition to 160 serviced apartments all of which are elegantly furnished with all you need to have a memorable stay.
Image: Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Credit: Secret Traveller
Similar to the Qasr Al Sarab resort, the hotel also offers expansive villas for those who value the additional space and privacy. Sit on your balcony and soak up the views before heading to their spa for a relaxing treatment and massage. There are numerous restaurants and bars to make the most of as well as Shangri-La's exemplary service.
Other perks include amazing artificial waterways you can take a boat ride on for an Arabian version of a Venice gondola ride and private outdoor dining setups.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel
The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi is an award-winning beach resort that offers an experience you won't forget. From lounging on the pristine shores of Saadiyat Island to adventuring on the Arabian desert, you can make what you want of your visit here. There are stunning views from all balconies and terraces, one of the largest swimming pools in the city, a child-friendly pool, golf course, spa, fitness center, and a kids club.
Image: Oasis of the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi hotel Credit: Stanislav71
Not to be outdone by some of the hotels on this list, the Park Hyatt also offers impressive villas with at least one private pool to ensure that guests who prefer maximum privacy don't miss out on any of the impressive amenities on offer.
The hotel has a good list of dining options with some of the best restaurants in the city to cement its impressive list of guest services.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal features 504 luxury rooms and suites and 11 Rabdan villas. The hotel's design is inspired by the 15th to 17th-century renaissance architecture. There's also an obvious Venetian theme across various parts of the hotel including some of the rooms and suites.
Image: Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal Credit: Vladimir Zhoga
Built directly opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the hotel is an excellent choice for those who wish to spend a lot of time exploring the spectacular Abu Dhabi landmark. Guests can also enjoy the remarkable sunset views of the mosque from the hotel grounds. On the other side of the hotel, guests can enjoy a private beach directly in front of the impeccably designed pool area.
In addition to offering cosmopolitan dining options, the hotel has a hydroponic farm which provides pesticide-free fresh produce and reduces the hotel's carbon footprint.
Abu Dhabi Edition
The first thing that strikes you about The Edition Hotel is its exterior design. Located on the waterfront of Al Bateen Marina, the exoskeleton-like structure offers an alluring contemporary look, extending into the hotel's interior. The rooms are tastefully finished with neutral hues and an understated interior design philosophy to ensure universal appeal. The most eye-catching design choice is the basket-making-inspired herringbone patterned flooring. The hotel's suites are lavishly decorated with photography of sand dunes by Brett Weston to showcase Abu Dhabi's affiliation with the desert.
Image: Abu Dhabi Edition Credit: Elena Bee
The hotel has a total of 198 rooms and 57 serviced residences available to guests. Dining options include three signature restaurants, a three-story social space, a pool bar, and a lobby bar. Business travelers will be happy to note that the hotel has over 900 square meters of event and meeting space available.
Frequently Asked Questions about Abu Dhabi.
Which area of Abu Dhabi is best to stay in?
When thinking of where to stay in Abu Dhabi, there are a great number of options. With various parts of the city offering something unique, you want to consider why you're heading there, what you want to do, and how near you want to be to certain attractions.
There's downtown Abu Dhabi, the central business district, Al Maryah Island, Yas Island, Saadiyat Island, and more. We recommend staying on Saadiyat Island, home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and several beautiful luxury beachfront resorts. The island is ideal for those after some culture or looking for something a little more peaceful. It offers convenience via proximity to popular attractions.
What is Abu Dhabi's most expensive hotel?
The most expensive hotel in Abu Dhabi is the Emirates Palace Hotel. An iconic and undeniably luxurious five-star establishment, it's well known for its impeccable service and awe-inspiring design. Easily accessible from the city center, it's an architectural masterpiece that incorporates marble and gold leaf - a nod towards the incredible design and luxury the UAE is known for. There are lavishly designed suites, numerous restaurants, and even an ATM that dispenses gold bars and coins.
How is Abu Dhabi different from Dubai?
When looking for where to go in the UAE, the two places often deliberated between are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but what are the differences? While they both share many similarities, there are a few main differences between them. Dubai is often seen as more tourist-centric and includes places such as the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world, luxury shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, is seen as more relaxed and offers a richer cultural experience. Abu Dhabi is larger in terms of land but has a smaller population. Regarding infrastructure, Dubai is known for rapid and bold projects focusing on contemporary design. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, has a more even balance of modern and traditional design.
Which is more beautiful, Dubai or Abu Dhabi?
Both cities are steeped in their own unique charm and offer differing views and experiences. Dubai is well known for its futuristic stance, with iconic glass facades and towering contemporary buildings. It has a vibrant nightlife and a range of extravagant attractions such as the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Marina. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi tends to marry contemporary and traditional culture together for a more varied appearance. However, there's still an abundance of lavish and opulent buildings here with unique architecture. Examples of these include the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Qasr Al Hosn. Abu Dhabi also boasts pristine beaches and traditional markets, which add to the authenticity of the destination and make it a truly stunning place to visit.
Can you drink alcohol in Abu Dhabi?
When considering a trip to the UAE, you might be wondering if you're allowed to drink alcohol. The answer to this is yes, but there are specific laws, regulations, and restrictions that you need to follow. Remember to adhere to the Islamic Law and cultural norms in Abu Dhabi and respect the locals. Alcohol is only available in licensed venues, and this tends to be in hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs.
The drinking age is 21, and you're only allowed to consume alcohol in designated areas. If you are in possession of alcohol in a public place or consume it somewhere you're not allowed, you might face a fine or other punishment.
Can a woman wear pants in Abu Dhabi?
Women can wear pants in Abu Dhabi. You need to note that other items that aren't considered modest would be significantly frowned upon, and as such, you need to be aware of the local laws and customs. Ladies' clothing should cover the shoulders, chest, and knees, and anything too tight or revealing should be avoided. During religious events or in certain areas, you'll want clothes covering as much skin as possible, such as long skirts and sleeves or loose-fitting trousers. When at the beach or swimming pool, swim attire is acceptable, but when leaving these areas, you'll need to cover up before making your way to your next destination. Places like hotels and resorts might offer more relaxed dress codes, allowing you to wear shorts and sundresses, but it's still a good idea to respect the local culture by dressing modestly.