The top 5 hotels in Abu Dhabi

 

Abu Dhabi may not be a flashy and over-the-top as Dubai, but it has emulated Dubai’s success in building itself into a booming city that has risen from the desert sands. It may not shout about it, but there’s plenty to explore in the Capital of the United Arab Emirates, and these are the top 5 luxury hotels to stay in while you do so.

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort is on the island that gives the resort its name. Saadiyat is set to be home to the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, although these have yet to open. Seven minutes from the city centre, this Mediterranean-style hotel is more of a beach resort than a city pad, with contemporary décor and ocean views. There are three outdoor pools, a stretch of private beach dusted with fine, white sand, and golfing aficionados can tee off at the Gary Player-designed Championship Course at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

St. Regis exterior

St. Regis

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Another island option, the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is the only five-star accommodation choice on Yas Island, touted to be Abu Dhabi’s up-and-coming leisure and entertainment district, situated midway between Abu Dhabi and the airport. There can’t be many hotels that boast a Formula One course wrapped around the façade and if that doesn’t provide enough thrills, Ferrari World theme park, Yas Waterworld and Yas Marina Circuit are all nearby, offering thrills aplenty. The large-scale hotel has a striking LED canopy that cycles through a series of colours at night, while cooling the hotel during the day, which provides an uber-cool backdrop for the open-air Skylite rooftop lounge.

Yas Viceroy LED canopy

Yas Viceroy

Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

The Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri sits a stretch of the water away from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the prime rooms featuring views of the edifice with its impressive spires stretching into the sky. Full of warm tones and organic textures, the hotel has a definite Arabian influence – think rich opulence on a grand scale. The complex includes an Arabian souk (market) selling traditional artefacts, paintings, jewellery and clothes. The different areas are connected by a winding waterway complete with abras (traditional boats) to whisk you through the verdant gardens. The hotel’s French restaurant, Bord Eau, is superb.

Shangri-La

Shangri-La lobby

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

Complete with landscaped gardens, tinkling fountains and Venetian-inspired buildings, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is a relatively new offering, within a stone’s throw of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The beach resort’s 10 interconnected buildings curve around an impressive 600-square-metre pool and with a range of cuisines from a steakhouse to Lebanese fare, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason to leave the grounds. The beachfront ESPA is inspired by the colours, textures and metal-work of Bedouin culture. After a signature treatment you can kick back in the relaxation area surrounded by lush greenery, take a dip in the plunge pool, or head to the private beach reserved for spa guests.

Ritz-Carlton

Emirates Palace

For a decadent Arabian experience in the thick of the action, look no further than Emirates Palace. The architecture and décor is fully Arabesque and the scale is overwhelmingly grand. The enormous hotel features 114 18-meter-high domes, luxury suites decorated in gold and marble, private butlers on call, and a 1.3-kilometre long private beach. You can’t help but feel like royalty here. The two swimming pools, one of which winds around pockets of greenery, are nestled within the 85 hectares of landscaped gardens. If you’d prefer to sail your mega yacht in, you can berth it at the hotel’s private marina.

Emirates Palace sunset

Honourable mention: Qasr Al Sarab

Technically it’s not in Abu Dhabi city, but Qasr Al Sarab is the Arabia of fables. The luxury oasis is set within the legendary Liwa Desert in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter, which is one of the largest uninterrupted sand deserts in the world. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, opt for one of the villas, which come with a private plunge pool. Every room offers desert views that will give the illusion of a Nomadic exploration – in contemporary luxury. Here’s your chance to ride a camel into the horizon over sand dunes washed with the golden rays of sunset.

Qasr Al Sarab pool

Qasr Al Sarab camel trekking

Whichever temporary abode you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Abu Dhabi prides itself on its international cuisine, impressive architecture, cultural heritage and welcoming Arabian hospitality.

Comments (11)

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  1. Hi Giselle,

    All the hotels look stunning but the St. Regis resort looks particularly amazing. What a view of the water.

    Each place is just about the pinnacle of luxury. The design, the orderliness of each spot and the breathtaking scenery are inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing Giselle.

    I’ll tweet it in a bit.

    Ryan

  2. Giselle says:

    I think decadence is possibly the UAE’s middle name Ryan. The hotels really do go all out. If you think these look good, you should see the spas that go along with them!

  3. Sharon says:

    What a great idea to compile this list on your blog. Thank you for including Anantara’s Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort – we are delighted you gave the resort an honourable mention despite being in Liwa.

    Thanks again.

  4. Francois says:

    A Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi ? Need to go ASAP and review it :) However I am wondering what to do in AUH, might be boring after 3-4 days

  5. Giselle says:

    It depends what you like to do of course, but there’s a lot of man-made entertainment – there’s the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, watersports along the corniche, desert safari, the entertainment on Yas Island (Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit). It’s an hour or so to Dubai too, so you could do both…

  6. Stephanie says:

    The view of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the Ritz Carlton is amazing – especially from the office spaces!

  7. Tim says:

    All look stunning and sound amazing!
    It would be a treat to stay at any one of them!
    Abu Dhabi has many truly fine hotels!

  8. Lash says:

    It’s surprising how very different each of these resorts is in design.

    Personally, I’d love to stay at the Emirates Palace and the Kasr Al Saab. Of the resorts pictured here, they have the most authentic styles for the region, which I prefer. I would feel really immersed in the culture staying at such places.

    How superb to swim in a clear turquoise pool surrounded entirely by sand dunes!

    Thanks for sharing! I’m always excited to learn about new resorts featuring amazing architecture and authentic designs.

    Best regards, Lash

  9. Giselle says:

    I’m glad you liked it Lash – I think Qasr al Sarab would be my pick for a true escape too, although the others are better for seeing Abu Dhabi itself.

  10. Lash says:

    Hey Giselle,

    Ah, I hadn’t thought about that aspect of choosing a resort there!

    Yes, Qasr al Sarab would probably be most enjoyable as a total escape, without planning on sightseeing or excursions.

    Still, I do much prefer hotels and resorts that have their own personal character & charm, preferably with some traditional local flavor.

    Thanks for your reply and for the post – helpful for anyone heading to Abu Dhabi.

    cheers, Lash

  11. These hotels are a great reminder – for those of you who fly into Dubai – be sure to spend a couple days in Abu Dhabi! Otherwise you’ll regret it like I did when I visited Dubai last year!

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