If you’ve not been on holiday this year or just feel like you need to enjoy a bit of a break, then why not explore Abu Dhabi for a memorable staycation?
For those who want to stay in the city
If you prefer to stay close to home, these picks are right on our doorstep and come with relaxation as standard.
Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl
Take a trip down the Corniche to the Grand Hyatt, cosily nestled between Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and Bab Al Qasr Hotel. The inviting new venue is home to a huge spa and fitness centre perfect for some pampering once you’ve worked up a sweat, as well as a 50-metre outdoor infinity pool and beach, ideal for unwinding during a short stay. From AED 625 for two people with breakfast, excluding tax. Corniche West. Contact: 02 510 1234, bit.ly/2OjTQJt
Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas
Cross the bridge and settle in at the newest hotel on Saadiyat Island where you can enjoy stunning views of the ocean along the 7km stretch of pristine beach. With seven dining options, Bodylines Fitness Club and Zen the Spa at Rotana, as well as a huge outdoor pool, two tennis courts, a multi-sports court and mini-golf, you can keep the whole family entertained during your stay. From AED 692, excluding tax. Saadiyat Island. Contact: 02 697 0000, rotanatimes.com
Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi
Located on Al Maryah Island overlooking the Abu Dhabi skyline, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi is ideal for a short break. Home to six restaurants, a 2,000-square metre spa and inviting pools on the third floor and the rooftop, this five-star hotel also enjoys close proximity to The Galleria if you’re looking for some retail therapy. From AED 563 for a superior room, excluding tax. Al Maryah Island, near The Galleria. Contact: 02 333 2222, fourseasons.com/abudhabi
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan
This five-star hotel in Khalifa City is perfect for those with energy to burn thanks to its location right next to Al Forsan International Sports Resort. Take your pick of activities from go-karting and wakeboarding to paintball, archery and more. Afterwards, retreat to the hotel where you can relax by the outdoor pool or ease your over-exercised muscles in the luxurious spa. From AED 570 for a Deluxe Room with resort view. Khalifa City, near Al Forsan Village. Contact: 02 201 4000, marriott.com
For those who want everything in one place
Pack up the car and hit the road to check in at one of these destination resorts where you’ll have everything you could ever need for a secluded stay.
Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara
Love animals? Forget going to Africa because you can go on a safari right here in Abu Dhabi. Take a trip to Sir Bani Yas Island and you can explore what is a thriving wildlife sanctuary with Arabian oryx, giraffe, gazelle and more. Mountain biking, wadi trekking and stand-up paddle boarding are also on offer for those with energy to burn. Fancy something more low-key? Relax at one of three temperature-controlled pools or pamper yourself at the spa. Bliss. From AED 1,013 for a Deluxe Sea View room. Sir Bani Yas Island. Contact: 02 801 5400, anantara.com/desert-islands-sir-bani-yas
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
If finding yourself in the middle of an Arabian Nights story appeals, then you’re in the right place here. A few hours south of the capital, this awe-inspiring destination is something truly special. Watch the sun set over the dunes, head out on a sunrise camel ride, unwind by the large free-form pool or embrace your adventurous side with a host of activities including sand boarding and dune bashing. From AED 2,541 for a Deluxe Garden Room, excluding tax. Off E90, near Hamim. Contact: 02 886 2088, anantara.com/qasr-al-sarab-abu-dhabi
For some time between the dunes
See a different side of Abu Dhabi as you watch the sands shift from these desert-based locations.
Tilal Liwa hotel
Stressed? Get away from it all and enjoy a slower pace in the desert just outside Madinat Zayed. Tilal Liwa Hotel is perfect for enjoying a little down time away from the busy city and for recharging your batteries at the inviting infinity pool, plus the Body and Soul Recreation Club is ideal for some you-time. But if you want to keep busy and have a little fun then there’s sand boarding, cycling, horseback riding and dune bashing on offer. From AED 449 for a Tilal Room. Tarif-Liwa Road, Al Gharbia. Contact: 02 894 6111, tilalliwa.danathotels.com
Arabian Nights Village
Experience traditional culture with a visit to Arabian Nights Village where you can sleep under the stars in a tent, room or suite in the heart of the desert. Offering a snapshot into life as a Bedouin, guests can enjoy camel riding, henna painting and falconry or enjoy more modern entertainment like a desert safari, quad biking or sand sledding, all while enjoying a spot of Arabian hospitality. From AED 820, excluding tax. Off the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road, Al Khatim. Contact: 02 207 8999, arabiannightsvillage.com
For quiet relaxation
If your ideal getaway involves doing a whole lot of nothing, then we know just the place for you to unwind and rejuvenate.
Zaya Nurai Island
Craving a tropical island getaway? Zaya Nurai Island is the place for you. This relaxing resort, made up of a selection of private villas, feels like a desert island escape but is just a stone’s throw from the capital. With activities including sunset yoga, an outdoor cinema, jet-skiing, snorkelling and more, there’s also plenty to do if doing nothing but relaxing is not on your agenda. From AED 3,960 for a Beach Villa, excluding tax. Nurai Island. Contact: 02 506 6222, zayanuraiisland.com
Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort
Overlooking Sir Bani Yas Island, this beachfront resort is great for some serious relaxation. With steam and sauna rooms, beachside massage huts, a temperature-controlled swimming pool and an 800m private beach, it’s easy to unwind, be pampered and top up your tan. Plus with squash and tennis courts and a fitness centre, you can work up a sweat too, if you get idle hands. From AED 449 for a Deluxe Room, excluding tax. Ruwais. Contact: 02 801 2222, jebeldhanna.danathotels.com
Why not try camping as a fun way to enjoy an inexpensive break? There are a number of camping groups in Abu Dhabi or you could set off yourself. But before you pack the tent into the car, remember to:
- Plan your journey before you set off.
- Make a list and bring everything you could need.
- Clear up behind you and leave no mess.
- Have the appropriate vehicle if going off-road.
- Camp away from water if on the beach.
- Bring sensible clothing.
- Let someone know exactly where you’re going.
- Pitch up before sunset.
- Have fun!
WORDS Colin Armstrong