Abu Dhabi has more than 38,000 hotel rooms. With options ranging from the spectacular Emirates Palace to authentic Arabian desert resorts, you’ve got choices to make if you’re staying there.
Fortunately, it is even more affordable for Australian travellers after tourism fees were reduced last year.
And to top it off, Etihad Airways has just announced a global sale, with heavily reduced fares and a free night’s accomodation for economy class passengers when they book a two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi en route to their destination. (The sale ends on January 24. Details at etihad.com or from travel agents.)
All this, combined with the buzz created by the new billion-dollar Warner Bros World theme park and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, has propelled the United Arab Emirates capital to the top of travel must-see lists.
Abu Dhabi is expecting six million hotel guests in 2019 – up from five million last year.
We’ve eliminated the guesswork for you and picked seven favourite hotels, for all budgets, ages and travel preferences.
To nab an even lower room rate book ahead (early bird rates can be up to 40 per cent cheaper), watch for hotel opening specials, travel in low season (Australian winter) and if you’re 62 or older ask for a seniors’ discount (the Marriott brand offers 15 per cent off).
Best for Warner Bros World: Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi
Eleven restaurants, two outdoor pools, a ballroom, kids’ zone and a day spa – it will be hard to leave this futuristic hotel built across the Grand Prix circuit.
If you do, the new Warner Bros, the world’s largest indoor theme park, is just minutes away. It has six lands to explore, from Cartoon Junction, based around classic Looney Toons characters, to DC’s Gotham City, the haunt of Batman.
Guests can choose from 29 rides, including the Jetsons Cosmic Orbiter, which allows riders to spin around in their own “spacecraft in the sky”.
The enormous park is on Yas Island, already home to indoor theme park Ferrari World with its Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller-coaster.
From $270 per room, per night
Best for the Louvre Abu Dhabi: Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
For water babes, this breezy resort has one of the largest swimming pools in Abu Dhabi and most of the 306 luxuriously appointed rooms have unrestricted views of Saadiyat Beach.
If you’re a high roller, the 355-square-metre Royal Villa has a main bedroom, a maid’s room with separate entrance, a kitchen with butler’s entrance and a terrace with pool and massage beds.
Design and art lovers will enjoy visiting the new Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is 10 minutes’ drive away. With more than 300 artworks, the Louvre is the largest art museum on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Jean Nouvel-designed building, with its enormous “floating dome” made from 7950 aluminium stars, is well worth the visit.
From $510 per room, per night
Best for getting out of town: Arabian Nights Village
This purpose-built village pulls no punches in going for an exotic Arabian vibe. Surrounded by nothing but sand, stars and camels, the property has an outdoor pool, fire pits, and a restaurant serving local dishes on handmade crockery.
One of the best rooms in the village is the fort tower suite, which has three oversized bedrooms dotted with Arabic vases, lanterns and carpets.
Half the fun of visiting the Arabian Nights Village, an hour from downtown Abu Dhabi, is getting there. Fancy a bit of dune bashing? Your driver will happily oblige. Sliding down the side of a huge sand hill in a 4×4 feels like taking a roller-coaster ride without a track. By the time you arrive at the village you’ll be intoxicated by an overload of adrenaline.
From $260 per room, per night
Best for Instagram: Emirates Palace
Paris has the Hotel Ritz. Singapore has Raffles. Abu Dhabi has Emirates Palace. Whether you’re sleeping over or not, the Palace is a must see.
Hailed by some as the world’s best hotel, its lavish 394 rooms and suites, 1000 hectares of landscaped parkland, 100 water fountains, 1.3 kilometre-long beach, private marina, two swimming pools and uniformed staff stations on every floor are some of its five-star charms.
Day-trippers can sniff out a 24-carat gold-flaked cappuccino and camel burger, along with a one-of-a-kind camelccino at Le Café.
Another option is to buy a Beach Club day pass, which includes access to all the facilities, including the spa with its ice cave, heated marble, steam rooms and jacuzzis.
From $515 per room, per night
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Will you be joining us for brunch tomorrow at @hakkasanabudhabi? Hakkasan at Emirates Palace is open for brunch every Friday from 12pm to 4pm. To make a reservation, please call +971 2 690 7739 or visit the website hakkasan.com #EmiratesPalace #AtThePalace #SimplyAbuDhabi #InAbuDhabi #VisitAbuDhabi
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Best for breakfast: Marriott Hotel Al Forsan
Sleek, modern and impeccably designed, the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan is as much a visual treat as a luxurious place to stay.
Dining options are first-rate: there’s a coffee house with gravity-defying cakes, a steakhouse, whisky bar and a grand all-day dining restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Breakfast lovers will need to start early to munch and sip their way through a United Nations of dishes. Say good morning with egg bhurji, Arabic pita with tangy labneh, ramen with a thick meaty broth and warm French pastries.
The resort’s location, in the Al Forsan International Sports Resort complex just south of downtown Abu Dhabi, offers guests a dizzying array of ways to work off breakfast. The line-up of thrills includes a go-karting track, outdoor wakeboarding lake, shooting range, polo, archery, paint-balling and horse riding.
From $200 per room, per night
Best for eco adventurers: Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
This new 293-room beachfront resort has three pools and eight restaurants. For those who care about the environment, it has a zero plastic straw and bottle policy, which makes sense as the precious Hawksbill turtles use the beach to nest throughout the year.
From $380 per room, per night
Best for airport lovers: Aerotel Abu Dhabi
Looking for a comfortable layover stay at Abu Dhabi International Airport? Aerotel has just opened its second micro-hotel – this time in Terminal 1.
Each of its 38 rooms has soundproof walls, a pillow menu, free Wi-Fi, a TV, desk and powerful shower.
From $230 per double room, based on a six-hour stay
*Prices are per double room, per night, inclusive of fees and taxes, for February 1, 2019. Prices may fluctuate due to changes in currency.