The city of Abu Dhabi is a quiet, laidback lovely retreat, a place where you’ll want to set up camp for a long time. It’s not flashy and over-the-top like Dubai, but it is definitely a booming success of a city that has risen from its humble beginnings. This vibrant and charismatic capital city of the UAE has plenty of options for staying. There are resorts, hotels and hostels to suit every budget. Here’s where you stay when you’re in Abu Dhabi, depending on how much you’re willing to spend!
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi: A Neighborhood guide for Tourists
Abu Dhabi is a culturally diverse city with a wide range of holidays types for every holiday maker, whether you are looking for a high-endsun-soaked resort, a retail therapy session, a desert adventure or a cultural experience. This guide will inform you on what neighborhoods are best for tourists and what you can expect to experience in each of them.
The most popular tourist area in Abu Dhabi, the Corniche is a 9km long stretch of Promenade located on the western side of the island. The Corniche was extended in 2003 after land was successfully reclaimed from the sea.
A paradise of blue sea with the stunning Abu Dhabi skyline as it’s backdrop. The recreational activities happening along the promenade are what make this area so appealing for so many tourists, especially for those with kids. The stunning beaches are also an exquisite place to relax with no shortage of sunbeds and umbrellas available to rent. There are several bike-share stations which make for a great way to really explore and experience the area to its full extent via numerous dedicated cycle paths. There are also plenty of walking paths, if cycling is not your thing. Both paths weave in and out of the Corniche’s stunning gardens with impeccable landscaping and a number of beautiful fountains.
Inland, the Corniche really comes alive at night, especially with locals who avoid the full glare of the heat during the day throughout the summer months. There are plenty of shisha cafes worth visiting if you are interested in experiencing a bit of local culture.
Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi’s premier shopping and entertainment destination is located just across from the Corniche and can be easily accessed through a breakwater road. At the mall you’ll see the United Arab Emirates flag flying on what is one of the world’s tallest flagpoles. The mall boasts 122,000 square meters of retail space with over 400 stores, as well as a cinema, bowling alley, and musical fountains. You can easily spend an entire day here.
The Corniche Beach is patrolled by lifeguards and especially great if you are travelling with children thanks to the numerous play areas. One of the play areas even has a pirate ships which kids can climb on. There are also a number of skateboard parks for older kids, as well as volleyball courts. The beach also boasts blue flag status, with stunning crystal blue water and white sand. There is no shortage of hotels along the Corniche, varying to all budgets, many of which are extremely family friendly.
The Tourist Club Area
The area of Abu Dhabi known as the Tourist Club (officially named Al Markaziyah) is a largely residential area is where you’ll find the oldest areas of the city. Here you’ll find very narrow streets, a lot of traffic, a vast array of restaurants serving local cuisine. Unlike the Corniche, you’ll find just as many locals in this area as tourists making it a better choice for those who really want to experience Abu Dhabi culture as it’s the closest you will get to the heritage of the city. It is also the main business district.
For those looking to take in a bit of shopping, this area is ideal, and boasts no shortage of shops selling everything from traditional Arabic fabric and jewelry as well as more western department stores. You won’t find quite as many families in this area as it is favored more by younger residents, especially those staying in Abu Dhabi for business reasons, with no shortage of high-rise apartment building with many available for short term stays as opposed to longer leases. Many who are living in the area don’t intend on settling in Abu Dhabi, of course you’ll find plenty of locals shopping and dining, most of who live outside the hustle of the city center. A lot of the apartments in the area are also pretty expensive, especially those boasting sea views. The older apartment building away from the sea are a little cheaper but still pricey enough which is to be expected in any city center.
The area is pretty non-stop and has a very energetic nightlife into the early hours. There are also a number of shopping malls close by, as well as plenty of cinemas and a beautiful tranquil park which will have you forgetting you are in the center of the city. The Corniche is also within very short walking distance so the amenities available there are all within easy reach.
Yas Island is a 2500-hectareartificial island close to the airport and a 30-minute drive from the city. It is best known as the home of the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. This area is extremely family friendly with so many entertainment venues including Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld.
Ferrari World, the middle east’s leading tourist attraction, was opened in 2010, one of its main attraction is that it is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa. This massive amusement park is mostly an indoor venue.
Yas Waterpark, also one of the leading attractions, is home to over 40 different attractions, including the longest suspended roller coaster in the Middle East. The park is divided into 4 sections to cater for a wide range of visitors from adrenaline junkies to young children. The park also houses the first water cinema in the region called Cinesplash. The cinema shows a 12-minute-long short film in 5D.
The most recent addition to the Island only just opened in July 2018, Warner Bros. World. It is the 3rd Warner Brothers theme park worldwide and contains 6 different themed lands.
Yas Marina Circuit is home to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and is the 2nd formula one track to open in the Middle East. The circuit can be configured in a number of different ways giving it the ability to host a number of different motorsports. There are also 5 grandstands for spectators which can hold over 40,000 people between them.
There is also no shortage of concert venues where big names in the music industry preform regularly. The du Arena is an outdoor venue that can accommodate up to 35,000 and the du Forum is an indoor venue holding up to 4,500.
Due to the large numbers of tourists attracted to Yas Island for all its entertainment amenities, there are no shortage of hotels on the Island. The Island is also home to IKEA and Yas Mall, one of Abu Dhabi’s largest destination shopping malls.
South of the Centre
In this area you’ll find the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Whilst being one of the largest mosques in the world, this mosque is also unique as it is the only one which captures interactions between Islam and other World Cultures. The mosque can hold anunbelievable 40,000 people. The mosque has an open-door policy and welcomes tourists and visitors as well as worshipers. There is no entrance fee to visit the mosque. There is a strict dress code with black Abaya provided free of charge to women to wear during their visit. There are free guided tours throughout the day which provide an interesting insight to visitors. Don’t forget your sunglasses, the glare of the sun is amplified with all the white marble encasing the building and courtyards.
In this area you’ll also find Khalife Park nearby, the Central Park of Abu Dhabi. There is a small entry fee, but you can easily spend an entire day here away from the bustle of the city. It’s especially great for kids as there is a small children’s waterpark on site with plenty of entertainment. The many stunning flowers and beautiful fountain make is a lovely area for a peaceful stroll. There is also a museum, library. Aquarium and time tunnel within the park, as well as a gorgeous little train to take you around if the heat of the sun makes walking too much.
Where to Stay In Abu Dhabi: Luxury Hotels and Resorts
Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is the city’s new up and coming cultural district. The new Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will soon take their place among the island’s exhibition halls and museums. St. Regis Saadiyat Resort is a lovely Mediterranean-style beach resort with enchanting ocean views. The resort has every luxury you could want – three outdoor pools, private beach, and best of all, the Gary Player-designed Championship Course at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
Abu Dhabi’s only five-star hotel on Yas Island, the Yas Viceroy is the favorite choice of Formula One fans who visit Yas Island’s Ferrari World theme park. There’s plenty of family fun nearby, with Yas Waterworld and Yas Marina Circuit. The hotel is huge, with an LED canopy that cools the hotel during the day, and changes colors all night. Enjoying a drink at the open-air Skylite rooftop lounge with the backdrop of the LED canopy is the perfect end of one’s night here.
This hotel is located on the Grand Canal, just a stretch of water away from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. In fact, you can experience fabulous views of the mosque from several rooms here. Richly opulent, this hotel complex includes an Arabian souk selling traditional clothing, paintings and jewelry. A winding waterway connects various parts of the hotel. One can use traditional boats called abras to travel through the verdant gardens that are set next to water channels.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi is bespoke luxury, set on the Grand Canal, a stone’s throw away from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Comprising of 10 interconnected buildings, the hotel contains an impressive 600-square-metre pool, wonderful Spa, and a celebrated range of cuisines. The exotic beachfront and lush gardens are a definite treat in the hot Abu Dhabi sunshine.
The Emirates Palace offers the very height of luxury, with delicate Arabesque architecture and grand fittings. The hotel has 114 domes, each 18-meter-high, and luxury suites all done up in marble and gold, with private butlers on call. Add the 1.3-kilometre long private beach, two Olympic-sized swimming pools, and 85 hectares of landscaped gardens and you’ll start to understand what luxury truly means.
Where to Stay In Abu Dhabi: Mid-range Hotels
The Hilton Capital Grand is located at Abu Dhabi’s new commercial district, at a 20 minutes distance from Abu Dhabi International Airport. It is ideal for business travelers, with a 24-hour business center, whirlpool, and luxury spa with sauna, 24-hour fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, and kids’ swimming pool.
Le Royal Meridien is a great option for business and pleasure travellers. Located close to the Corniche, with easy access to shopping districts, the hotel offers excellent eating and drinking options. For example, the Stratos is a revolving bar and lounge; the Market Kitchen is a restaurant led by 3-starred Michelin Chef, Jean-George Vongerichten. There’s also the Latitude 24 Bar, The Piano Lounge, and Illusions Night Club.
This hotel is located right next to the Corniche, the Marina Mall and the Financial District, and therefore perfect for both the business and pleasure traveler. There’s a private beach club offering various water sports, several restaurants and bars and a luxury spa. Such crème-de-la-crème hotels can be easily booked while booking your tour packages with respectable tour operators such as Rayna tours. It is important to have a comfortable stay to enjoy your trip fully.
This is a fine mid-range hotel that offers a children’s play area, a private beach, PADI dive center, two swimming pools (including a children’s one), tennis and squash courts, and a Spa. The rooms and service as great as well, with excellent ocean views. It’s really good value for money.
Where to Stay In Abu Dhabi: Budget Hotels
This is one of the best options for dollar-conscious businessmen. The hotel does not sacrifice facilities, service or style for the price. Just minutes from the Formula One Race Track, and Links Golf Club, the Financial District and the airport, this hotel makes perfect sense for the business traveler.
Al-Diar Regency, East Corniche
A good choice for budget travelers, the Al-Diar is located within walking distance of the Business District. Rooms come with balconies with sea view, kitchenettes and regular amenities. Service is quite good for the price. There’s also a Business Centre and several restaurants and bars.
Located in the peaceful and green Meridien Village, the Le Meriden offers good accommodation along with a range of restaurants, al-fresco bars and cafes. There’s also a hammam, a nightclub, swimming pools and a nightclub on the premises. The rooms are good and the service is quite good for the price.
One of the best choices for a budget option, the Al Maha offers studio apartments and suites at good prices. The hotel is located between the center of Abu Dhabi and the Corniche. The rooms come with all possible amenities such as air conditioning, great service and good furnishings. The sweeping views of the city are an added bonus.
Abu Dhabi has the perfect stay option no matter what your budget is. While there are grand hotels with every imaginable luxury, there are also excellently-managed smaller budget hotels. Just because they’re better priced doesn’t mean they offer substandard service or amenities. On the contrary – Abu Dhabi’s hotels pride themselves on the excellence of their offerings, no matter the size or name of the establishment.
A post graduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally.An avid trekker & explorer, who often takes off some time from her busy life for mountaineering, she loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”. You can follow her blog Dubai Wikia.
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