Even before I arrived at this grand property, I noticed its Venetian-inspired semi-circular property, with its palatial grounds sparkling iridescently in the capital’s never-ending sunshine. I thought that the hotel is a reflection of Abu Dhabi itself: modern, sophisticated and lavish. With a lovely, private beach and luxurious interiors, this one is within viewing distance of the renowned Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Within a short walk from the main building is Venetian Village, which offers additional waterfront dining outlets. There’s also a traditional souq, Qaryat Al Beri, just across the creek, which guests can get to via an abra (traditional water taxi). One look at the grandiose yet welcoming Venetian-inspired mansion, with glistening chandeliers, marble floors, impressive staircase and comfortably regal furnishings, and I was smitten by its splendor.
I loved the use of leaves in the design – a nod to the Islamic cultural aesthetics visible at the Grand Mosque. If you are a fan of opulence, just lookup. There is no shortage of glittering Swarovski at this Ritz-Carlton.
There are 447 rooms and suites, and 85 private villas. Standard rooms have a living area with work and lounging spaces and a separate bedroom with a balcony. I stayed at the ethereal Executive Suite where the linens are 400 thread count, and Asprey-branded toiletries are as luxurious as the hotel. Swirling patterns in the carpets pay homage to the nearby Grand Mosque, while more exotic touches, like a rare and expensive hardwood from South America (ebony macassar) add a chic, modern flair. Bathrooms are full marble, with tub, separate shower, and deep-soaking tub. A large window over the bathtub allows you to soak up the views without leaving your respite.
The foodie factor
South-east Asian restaurant Li Jiang is my favorite of the hotel’s eight dining outlets. In terms of views and quality of food, the culinary experience here is absolutely faultless and screams culinary mastery in every bite. The steaming and scrumptious dim sums, sushi and king prawn red curry are just divine to say the least.
Mijana serves traditional Arabic fare and there is also a notable steak restaurant, The Forge, and a casual dining outlet, Al Fresco. Giornotte is the breakfast spot, offering a good hot and cold selection including pancakes, waffles, meatloaf, eggs, sausage, cold meats, and cheeses, plus a coffee station. They had ravishing selections like a superb tiramisu and sinful croissants for breakfast.
The Afternoon Tea at Alba is outstanding with desserts crafted to perfection, unbelievable scones, hors d’oeuvres, and delicate floral aromas accompanied by your preferred tea blend-love at each bite!
Sun, sea and splendor
At 57 acres, the property is expansive. Luckily, the staff is on hand to drive you around in golf carts, though the breezy grounds make for a lovely afternoon stroll, too.
Overall, the service is attentive and gracious: Housekeeping and check-in staff are top-notch.
Moreover, the pool is one of the biggest in the capital, and there’s a sizable ballroom and 14 meeting rooms. The spa is a short buggy ride from the main building. There’s a free shuttle bus to the mosque every half an hour. Ritz Kids club is free for hotel guests aged from four to 12 years.
Thanks to its prime location across from the Grand Mosque, the hotel’s lobby becomes a gathering place for guests at sundown when lights, reflecting the phases of the moon, turn the mosque’s white marble from shades of soft blush gray to moonlight blue.
Making travel truly inclusive, I loved how ten rooms across the various categories are adapted for guests with disabilities. Apart from that, a culinary pedigree that shines, interiors that stay with you even after you’ve left, and service that is all heart, this one is a hospitality legend with a charm that is sure to engulf your heart and senses.
Note – The critic was hosted by the resort but all the opinions expressed herewith were her very own.
Price: AED 800 (exclusive of local taxes)
Where: Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Phone: 00 971 2 818 8888