Abu Dhabi was once a cheap holiday destination; however, today it ranks as one of the most luxurious cities in the world. Do not be fooled, however, as luxury can be far more affordable than imagined, and one would have to look far to find luxury at such keen prices.
The secret is to search out seasonal discounts and package deals, and, in fact, the recent economic downturn has resulted in most hotels fighting for competition, and many bargains are to be had. Because of plummeting tourist numbers, many first-class hotels are currently offering discounts of up to 65%.
A few points to note whilst searching for affordable luxury, include avoiding the high season (November to February), and travelling instead during the low season summer months (June to August). Although the weather can be stifling hot, deals can be found, with fantastic reductions in prices of up to 75%.
As a rule, check that the rates are all-inclusive, as many hotels charge 20% tax, 10% municipal tax and a 10% service charge. Of course, if you wish to stay at a particular hotel, ask if there are any special deals on offer, and request the best rates available. Many hotels offer complimentary shuttle buses for trips to the airport, malls, and beaches. These are often unadvertised, so enquire at each specific hotel.
For a week’s stay or more, do not overlook renting an apartment. Many of the city’s hotels offer these on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; they are serviced, and of course offer the visitor full access to all the hotel’s facilities. For a mid-range studio apartment, expect prices to start at approximately Dh 650, but this will drop drastically the longer your stay. Many hotel spas are now starting to offer special deals – search these out.
As for dining, check out the city’s top restaurants, many of which offer discounts of up to 50% for dinner eaten before 8:30 pm, known as ‘early birders’. Also on offer are excellent value set menus, to suit all tastes.
1. The Emirates Palace
In competition with Dubai’s renowned Burj Al-Arab, be sure not to miss ‘high tea’ while staying at this opulent hotel! The Emirates Palace has awarded itself a seven star rating and additionally insists on being rated not as a hotel, but as a palace! Its extravagant facilities include a 24-hour butler service, room service, and access to its own 1.3 km beach of white, specially imported sand, and also a private waterpark.
2. Le Royal Meridien
This hotel is considered one of the city’s top business residences, and is specially designed to stop one in one’s tracks, such is its luxury. The services are first-rate and amenities include kitch bars, fine clubs, and restaurants. Its rooms are excellently furnished, elegant, and offer stunning views of the Gulf.
Of a palatial size and a glitzy ultra-chic neo-Moorish design, highlights include a Venice-style system of waterway canals and gondolas, connecting the hotel complex, a 1 km private beach, five various swimming pools, two health clubs, some of the city’s finest restaurants and bars, and a shopping mall.
4. Centro Yas Island
This, among a brand-new variety of affordable hotels, targets cost-conscious yet discerning businessmen. The Centro does not, however, skimp on style, facilities or service. This hotel is situated a short walk from the newly-built F1 Racecourse, and a short distance of less than 10 minutes from the airport.
5. Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana
This hotel is ideally nestled between the city centre and the Corniche area, with suites and studio apartments available at very competitive prices. The hotel is well-serviced, and elegantly furnished; they offer stunning and sweeping views of the city.
6. Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers
This hotel is particularly suitable for families, and offers good value for money. Facilities include a ‘PADL’ diving centre, a private beach, squash and tennis courts, children’s play area & pool, a further pool, and a very good spa. The rooms here are stylish and spacious and offer panoramic sea views.
7. Le Meridien
Freshly modernised, the mid-range Meridien’s biggest attraction is its peaceful and tranquil Meridien Village, which offers a wide and eclectic range of restaurants, cafes and al-fresco bars, which are proving to be extremely popular. Facilities offered include a nightclub, swimming pools, a spa, and hamman. The facilities are contemporary and cozy, and the service cannot be faulted.
8. Al-Diar Regency
This hotel is perfect for the business traveller, as it offers good value-for-money accommodation. Although simple, the accommodation includes balconies with either city or sea views, several restaurants and bars, and also a Business Centre are included in its facilities.
9. Grand Continental Flamingo Hotel
This hotel is situated in the midst of the hub, and only minutes from the Corniche. Excellent facilities include restaurants, a nightclub, and rooms with superb views. The Grand Continental Flamingo offers the visitor excellent value for money.
10. Hilton International
Part of the Hilton Group, and offering all that can be expected from this prestigious group, the Hilton is the perfect place for a business, leisure, or family stay. It is ituated next to the Corniche, close to the Marina Hall, and a short taxi ride from the Financial District. Sumptuous amenities include a private beach and a good range of watersports, a luxury spa and some of Abu Dhabi’s most desirable restaurants and bars.