A thriving metropolis located on a small island just off the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi is one of the new centers of international business. One century ago, this great city was a mere fishing village whose residents relied upon the sea for their sustenance. Today, it relies upon its vast reserves of petroleum and the great riches that have come along with them.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is now one of the richest cities in the world, and its great wealth is reflected in its wide variety of comfortable and lush hotels. It may, in fact, be difficult for the traveler unfamiliar with this city to find affordable lodging because of the city’s emphasis on luxury. As Abu Dhabi has opened up to western tourism, however, relatively inexpensive hotels with excellent service have begun to appear around the city. Here are just a few of the best hotels Abu Dhabi has to offer.
1) Cristal Salam Hotel
Travelers who are on a budget might be nervous about booking a room in the famously expensive city. However, there are relatively cheap options, and the best of these is the Cristal Salam Hotel. Located in the bustling eastern neighborhood of Madinat Zayed, a mere ten-minute drive from the center of the city, the Cristal Salam offers travelers top-rated service, excellent rooms, and a central location.
Rates for a room at the Cristal Salam Hotel start at around $60 per night. Few other hotels in Abu Dhabi feature similarly low rates, and none of those hotels offer the same kind of service as does the Cristal Salam. For these reasons, the Cristal Salam Hotel is very popular with tourists, so be sure to book early to ensure inexpensive lodging in the city.
2) Beach Rotana
Another hotel on the eastern end of Abu Dhabi, the Beach Rotana is a great choice for travelers who want the convenience of easy access to the beach without having to leave their hotel. The Beach Rotana offers both great service and direct access to the beach, which also includes beachside bars and pools. Popular restaurants at the Rotana include Indigo, a “modern Indian” restaurant; Trader Vic’s, a French Polynesian restaurant; and the internationally known Japanese steakhouse chain Benihana.
Rooms at the Rotana let out for about $100 per night and up, but special deals are frequently available. Even at the regular rate, however, a room at the Rotana is more than worth it – visitors have easy access to both the beach and Abu Dhabi Mall, a massive retail center in the eastern Madinat Zayed district of the city. Lovers of suntanning, swimming, and shopping can’t ask for anything more out of a hotel.
3) Hilton Abu Dhabi
For those tourists who want to stick with the tried and true, the Hilton Abu Dhabi might be the best choice available. The Hilton features excellent service, well-maintained and luxurious rooms, a beautiful view of the wealthy west end of the city, and great restaurants and bars. Travelers staying at the Hilton shouldn’t miss out on Hemingway’s, a restaurant and bar featuring a Middle Eastern take on Tex-Mex cuisine and live music. Attached to Hemingway’s is the Jazz Bar & Club, a popular meeting place for tourists and resident expatriates alike.
The Hilton is located on the southwestern end of Abu Dhabi Island, about fifteen minutes away from the city center by car. Rates for a room at the Hilton are fairly reasonable, beginning at around $120 per night.
4) Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Etihad Towers is a massive office, residence, and hotel complex in the west of Abu Dhabi. Developed by royal family member Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammad Al-Nahyan and built by Australian architectural firm DBI Design, these five giant towers loom over Abu Dhabi, dwarfed only by the 74-story Sky Tower located on the other end of the city. Etihad Towers offers more than simple height, however – it also contains the Jumeirah, a top-rated five star hotel. The Jumeirah occupies one of the five towers and features luxurious rooms, excellent dining, and the best views to be had anywhere in Abu Dhabi. Visitors staying in Abu Dhabi for business purposes can take advantage of one of the thirteen meeting rooms available in the Jumeirah’s conference center. The hotel’s restaurant fare, which includes Lebanese, Japanese, and everything in between, stands up to the best food this city has to offer.
Naturally, the Jumeirah’s luxury comes at a price. Rooms at the Jumeirah start at $200 per night. However, if you can afford the stay, the cost is well worth it, if only for the amazing view.
5) Emirates Palace
The undisputed champion in the fields of luxury and pure, unabashed decadence – this title is won handily by Emirates Palace, a hotel in the western Al-Ras Al-Akhdar district of Abu Dhabi. To simply call Emirates Palace a “hotel” is not doing it justice, however. This 85-hectare complex features stunning gardens and plazas. The hotel building itself truly is a palace – the interiors of its vast lobby and halls are decorated in gold, and the exterior gives off a Middle Eastern fairy tale feel, as though the entire structure had been pulled right out of the One Thousand and One Nights.
Some of the Palace’s astounding features include a beautifully-maintained 1.3 kilometer stretch of private beach, forty conference rooms for visitors in Abu Dhabi on business, and a wide variety of international cuisine. Etoiles Bar and Havana Bar are popular get-together spots for expatriates who don’t mind dropping 30 dirhams ($8) on a beer, and the lobby itself features a cafe service for both guests and non-guest visitors. One of the cafe’s most popular items is the 24-karat gold-topped cappuccino, which is a normal cappuccino sprinkled with real gold dust.
Emirates Palace is, hands down, the most expensive hotel in Abu Dhabi, with rooms starting at $400 per night and quickly rising to $2,000 for the deluxe suites. Fortunately for those travelers who want a taste of extreme luxury at the Palace but can’t afford a room, the hotel’s lobby and restaurants are open to the public. Indeed, Emirates Palace is one of the top tourist destinations in the city, and for good reason. Nowhere is the sheer wealth of Abu Dhabi more overtly displayed than at this incredibly luxurious hotel.