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Abu Dhabi Travel Guide

About Abu Dhabi

The capital of the United Arab Emirates has always been more conservative than neighbouring Dubai but what Abu Dhabi lacks in glamour, it more than makes up for in culture.

That’s not to say the home of the world’s wealthiest Grand Prix is no stranger to glitz. The city boasts a slew of glittering malls, hotels and nightclubs that are equal with anything found in Dubai.

Like its neighbour, Abu Dhabi also likes to think big and rack up records
– if it’s not the engineering marvel that is Capital Gate (the world’s farthest leaning man-made tower according to Guinness World Records), it’s Ferrari World, home to the fastest rollercoaster on Earth. International hotel chains have quickly taken notice and Westin, Rocco Forte and Hyatt are all represented in the capital.

Another headline-grabbing development in the emirate is Saadiyat Island, which was a deserted no man’s land a few years ago. Now it’s full of resorts and beach clubs, and is where Abu Dhabi’s sun-loving set make the most of the pristine white sands.

The same island is also home to another impressive new development, a cultural district that includes the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. A Middle Eastern version of the Guggenheim Museum, complete with thousands of works of contemporary art, will follow shortly.

But Abu Dhabi isn’t just about finding ways to turn petrodollars into buildings or entertainment hubs like Yas Island, the home of the Grand Prix. The centre is home to some of the most beautiful mosques in the Gulf as well as a (very) small old town and a sprinkling of dusty homes that hint at Abu Dhabi’s desert-trader past.

The picturesque corniche, with its family-friendly beaches and long promenade, is also worth a visit although you won’t entirely escape all signs of oil money. This is, after all, the home of the infamously pricey Emirates Palace Hotel, with its gold vending machines and gold-leaf flecked cappuccinos.

Abu Dhabi might be relatively restrained compared to its neighbour but it still can’t resist a bit of bling.

Key facts

Population:
1145000
Latitude:
24.476733
Longitude:
54.370872

Featured Hotels

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Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

Recently renovated, this high-end hotel with 202 guest rooms and 74 luxury suites, offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wireless internet access, a fitness centre with sauna and steam room and a squash hall. Le Royal Méridien also has nine restaurants and bars and excellent facilities for business meetings and banquets.

Emirates Palace

Allegedly one of the most expensive hotels ever built, this stunning palace boasts nearly 400 magnificent rooms and suites. Facilities include 10 on-site restaurants, a spa, a swimming pool and a private beach. Even if you can’t stay the night, book an unforgettable afternoon tea at Le Vendome.

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

This luxurious 5-star hotel is undoubtedly the most iconic building on Yas Island. Built over a racetrack and with unrivalled access to Yas Marina, its on-site amenities include huge modern rooms, world-class bars, restaurants and a stunning rooftop pool. It’s also the hot ticket during the Formula One season.

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

This gorgeous resort is far enough from the mainland to feel like a true escape from the city, but still has plenty of on-site entertainment to ensure a pleasant stay. Along with classy, residential-style rooms, 5-star restaurants and glamorous bars, there’s also a lovely spa and stunning private beach.

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort

Overlooking the Arabian Gulf the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort has 272 guest rooms and suites all luxuriously appointed and offering high-speed Internet access. The 5-star stay has excellent restaurants a business centre and state of the art banqueting and conference facilities. Ask for a room overlooking the sea for the best view.

Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

Located 15 minutes from the city centre, the magnificent Shangri-La boasts over 200 rooms and suites, plus some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. More palace than city hotel, be sure to ask for a room with a view of the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.