Despite often standing in the shadow of its more developed Emirati neighbour Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city of Abu Dhabi is fast emerging as another must-see Gulf destination.
Whether you’d prefer to be immersed in eons of Arabian culture, pampered with decadent and innovative spa experiences or take a white-knuckled ride around some world-class attractions, Abu Dhabi can tick any box.
At the same time, Abu Dhabi plays host to some of the world’s most opulent, lavish and simply spectacular hotels and resorts, from locally-grown brands to the world’s most renowned marques offering the ultimate in design and luxury.
Check-in and check-out this collection of luxury hotels that will turn the UAE capital from a must-go to a must-go again and again.
The Abu Dhabi Edition
Situated in the downtown district on the waterfront of Al Bateen Marina and just across the road from the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Centre, Abu Dhabi’s first Edition hotel makes for a perfect laid-back vacation by the sea.
Featuring more than 250 guest rooms, suites and residences backed by deluxe herringbone-patterned wood paneling. Rooms overlook the city or the marina, with loft-style suites featuring a separate study room.
Guests can ponder three devilishly enticing restaurants for their daily nourishment, from the Oak Room steakhouse, Peruvian-inspired rooftop eatery or the health-conscious Market among the selection.
Set against the city skyline, the hotel's pool and private cabanas evoke pure vacation vibes, while a comprehensive fitness centre will keep the blood pumping.
The soothing design extends to the property's splendid Edition spa and hair salon by Rossano Ferreti, famed as the most exclusive and renowned hairdresser in the world.
Andaz Capital Gate
Among the soaring towers of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and central business district are some architectural marvels which appear to defy basic laws of physics.
Inside one such design curiosity is the Capital Gate skyscraper and its 18-degree lean, inside which you’ll find Andaz Capital Gate, a lifestyle offering from the Hyatt stable.
Located only 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport, guests will be greeted by the contemporary Arabian artworks of the 165 Below gallery as they head to check-in.
Each of the 188 rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Arabian Gulf or city, with an open-plan marble bathroom bedecked with an enormous deep-soaking bathtub more closely resembling a private pool.
Suites are highly spacious with separate living and dining areas, some even offering wraparound windows making for a perfect sight to wake up to each morning.
Dining is a whimsical envelopment of colour at Cyan Brasserie with its captivating green decor, while those with a penchant for heights should visit 18-degrees bar for an evening pre or post-dinner cocktail.
Two other venues, Rayana Tapas Bar on the 19th floor and Pinnacle on the 33rd remain closed for now.
Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
Fans of the ‘Fast & Furious’ film franchise may recognise Conrad Abu Dhabi from an utterly outrageous stunt which saw thr rebellious Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) incredulously catapult his superpowered sports car from one tower to the next, dozens of metres in the air.
In a more serene day-to-day environment, the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, tucked away at the western end of the Corniche only a few minutes’ walk from the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace.
Guests enjoy dazzling luxury from door to door, with a Swarovski crystal chandelier on entry and amethyst-encrusted elevators whisking them up to their floor, where greeting them are sweeping views of the city and Arabian Gulf.
Rooms themselves come in several different designs, with common features being plush carpets and mosaic-tiled bathrooms along with a window side couch to immerse yourself in the view.
Twelve tantalising restaurants make up the daily selection, featuring cuisine inspired by Lebanon to Latin America, Tokyo to Tuscany.
And if heights are no problem, Ray’s Grill on the 63rd floor will whet your appetite for higher vantages and a visit to the 74th floor observation deck.
A lavishly imagined dream, Emirates Palace is consistently hailed as one of the world's best hotels, an embodiment of luxury in Abu Dhabi.
On arrival, guests are greeted with long-stemmed roses before being escorted to one of the resort’s 394 rooms and suites, each luxuriously equipped with custom-designed furniture, whirlpool baths and 180-degree ocean views, with 24-hour butler service just a call away.
From the moment you walk through the door, guests are enveloped in the opulence of their surroundings, with views of the city, gardens or Gulf meeting your gaze.
Consider treating yourself to the Deluxe Beachfront Suite, with its separate living room, bathroom with jacuzzi and private media room at your disposal.
When it comes to dining, try one each night and it will still take you more than a week to savour all of the hotel’s restaurants, with some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs plying their culinary trade.
Options on the plate include contemporary Italian, fine Indian, Arabic and Spanish along with poolside BBQ, decadent desserts and international brand Hakkasan.
Boasting an enviable Gulf-front location, guests enjoy direct access to the hotel's private beach and the trendy night spots of Abu Dhabi's famous seaside promenade, as well as some of the city's main attractions, including the Qasr Al-Watan and the Heritage village.
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Situated on the beachfront overlooking the Gulf to one side and the Grand Mosque to the other, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is a jewel of the city.
Featuring more than 360 high-ceiling rooms and suites, you’ll want to cast your eye over the Fairmont Gold categories for their spacious interiors, intricately detailed decorations and brilliant views.
For the ultimate family or group indulgence, Fairmont’s villa is a sight to behold with three large bedrooms, separate dining and living areas, private pool, garden and gym.
Dining is a choice of five, ranging from the Marco Pierre White steakhouse, international buffet at CuiScene, Marco’s Italian, Lebanese favourites at Mazaj Bab Al Bahr or Japanese delicacies at Cafe Sushi.
Your daily workout is also granted with the hotel's five-star fitness facilities, including CrossFit-style equipment, an Olympic lap pool and personal trainers.
Grand Millennium Al Wahda
Another city centre haven in Abu Dhabi’s commercial district, a core focus of Grand Millennium Al Wahda is about creating memorable stays through warm hospitality across its 337 rooms.
Shopaholics will be ready to give the credit card a workout, with the hotel offering direct access to the Al Wadha Mall - the largest in the city with over 350 brand names available.
Rooms are a little more on the quaint side compared to some others on this list, while families and larger groups may feel more comfortable in one of the hotel’s 1, 2 or 3-bedroom apartments.
Business travellers will want to become acquainted with the Millennium’s Executive Lounge on the first floor. Open only to guests in rooms and suites carrying the club title, benefits include free airport transfers, daily breakfast and regular refreshments in a quiet space designed for efficiency.
Specialising in both fine dining and casual comforts, guests may prefer either the Middle-Eastern delicacies in tow at Layali Shahrazad or the classic Porters British Pub, complete with sports on TV and regular live music.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas
On the natural island of Saadiyat sits the sanctuous Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, on a 9km stretch of environmentally protected white sand beach.
For golf fans, the resort is adjacent to the unyielding bunkers and lush fairways of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, while the city centre and the Corniche are a short drive away.
Headlining the offering here is one of Abu Dhabi’s best swimming pools, a 25-metre oasis lined with palm trees and designed for both relaxation and for guests eager to maintain a fitness routine by putting in some laps.
The resort’s 306 rooms offer a spacious and residential feel, starting at a generous 50sqm and featuring either an outdoor terrace or private balcony.
Some suites and villas come with their own private plunge pool, sunbeds and dining terrace overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Inside, the expansive suites feature a media room and Chinese lava wave marble bathroom for unheralded elegance.
The coastal vibe extends into the Atarmia Spa, where three private outdoor terraces are the backdrop to a selection of bespoke treatments tailored to your needs.
Dining is a global affair, with two culinary influences colliding at Mate’, the resort’s headline restaurant, with its intriguingly exotic Argentinian fare with a Lebanese twist.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Reminiscent of a traditional Bedouin village, the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is a spellbinding isolationist retreat worth the 120km ride from Abu Dhabi Airport.
Accommodations range from 45sqm deluxe rooms to staggering pool villas, each featuring Islamic-inspired furnishings and oversized bathtubs. Suites and multi-bedroom villas are luxurious private desert palaces, backdropped by private plunge pools and uninterrupted views of an endless desert.
By day, guests can indulge in a gentle camel ride across the Rub Al Khali desert's soft dunes, and by evening take a casual stroll to a private candlelit table for an indulgent Bedouin-style dinner before socialising with other guests at Camp Nujum.
For a resort in the desert, Qasr Al Sarab prides itself on being one of the greenest and most sustainable in the Emirate. Its vast open footprint allows for maximum solar harvesting to power the property, with not a hint of plastic to be found across room keycards and water bottles.
An on-site greenhouse, open for guests to tour, cultivates a menagerie of vegetables for use throughout the resort, with over 150kgs of tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant and a variety of herbs produced each month.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi
Even for Abu Dhabi, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi is a master of the opulent.
Boasting Renaissance-inspired architecture in the shadow of the Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, guests will find a delightful mix of landscaped gardens with an orchard of olive trees subtly mixed with a contemporary beach lifestyle.
Accommodations range from traditional guest rooms to multi-bedroom Venetian-inspired suites and stunning private pool villas with direct access to the beach.
Ritz-Carlton’s hallmark Club Lounge is open to guests holding appropriate access through their room privileges features views over the Grand Canal, generous dining rotations starting with breakfast at 6:30am and running to evening desserts closing at 10pm.
The lounge also features presentations where guests can learn about preparation of the region’s cardamom and clove-infused Arabic coffee or the intricate details of more than 150 varieties of locally-farmed dates.
Additional dining opportunities can be found in the Asian-inspired Li Jiang where patrons can admire the culinary handiwork of chefs through an open kitchen as they prepare sumptuous rice and noodle creations.
Elsewhere, a steakhouse, Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurants complete the daily selection, supported by numerous lounges, bars and al fresco options.
Guests can spend their day whiling by the swimming pool or get amongst the local community with a free shuttle bus heading to town every 30 minutes.
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Effortlessly combining authentic Arabian hospitality with over a hundred years of bespoke tradition, the St. Regis Abu Dhabi is an oasis of sensational splendour.
The hotel offers direct access to the private Nation Riviera Beach Club, inclusive of a health and fitness centre, kids club, a wonderfully renovated swimming pool and its sandy beach.
From sensational Mediterranean flavours and a curated selection of Italian wines at Villa Toscana to the finest regional dishes at The Terrace, the hotel's culinary offerings exude elegance and craftsmanship in every bite. Or kick back for a casual bite at the Cabana Beach Grill, found on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Spread across two towers, the 283 rooms are classically decorated with glass-blown chandeliers, luxurious linens, and marbled floors reminiscent of Mediterranean revival-style architecture.
If heights are your thing, the hotel is home to the world's highest suspended room, with the Abu Dhabi Suite offering a unique sanctuary 220 metres above the ground, with 360-degree views.
W Abu Dhabi Yas Island
Designed as an entertainment centrepiece, Yas Island was reclaimed from the sea and earmarked as the star of the Abu Dhabi show.
Now home to exorbitant theme parks and a Grand Prix circuit visited annually by the Formula 1 circus, Yas Island is also home to some of the world’s most decadent hotels, among which is W Abu Dhabi.
The hotel’s curvaceous design invites amazement through its lobby, winding hallways and colourful pops, creating an experience as much as a place to rest your head.
Just shy of 500 rooms await guests, each offering views over the racetrack or the Yas Island Marina. Revheads will bask at Garage, the hotel’s colourful international restaurant. Italian and Indian fare can be found at Amici and Angar, while numerous outdoor bars and sun decks complete the atmosphere.
Just shy of 500 rooms await guests, each offering views over the racetrack or the Yas Island Marina.
Revheads will bask at Garage, the hotel’s colourful international restaurant. Italian and Indian fare can be found at Amici and Angar, while numerous outdoor bars and sun decks complete the atmosphere.