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Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sitting off the mainland on an island in the Arabian Gulf.  I was privileged to visit this amazing place on an Educational Trip this month for 4 nights.

I flew from Edinburgh with Etihad Airways which were amazing.  Great luggage allowance, service and in-flight entertainment.  With only 7 hours flight it is only a hop, skip and a jump away and +4 GMT time difference.

We had a jam-packed itinerary, so was looking forward to getting to know Abu Dhabi better and experience it first-hand.

ACCOMMODATION

I stayed at the Bab Al Qasr hotel – an Arabian hotel http://www.babalqasr.com/

A 5* hotel, set in an enviable position overlooking the Emirates Palace and the Presidential Palace, in the Corniche area of Abu Dhabi.  With its own private beach at the back of the hotel.  Transfer time from the airport approximately 40 minutes.  With a hotel of 412 rooms, 114 suites and 265 apartments. My bedroom was extremely spacious with a very impressive bathroom and a great view of the beach.  Hotel is equipped with a gym, sumptuous spa, outdoor pool, private beach and five restaurants and bars.  I would recommend this hotel for couples looking for something special, who appreciates luxury with a more traditional theme.

The first stop on our itinerary the following day was a hotel visit to the impressive Emirates Palace offers unprecedented luxury in the heart of Abu Dhabi, with a 1.5km private beach, 85 hectares of landscaped gardens.  You can even have afternoon tea there if just wanting a visit.  https://www.kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace

 

I visited the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/uae/abu-dhabi overlooking the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  I fell in love with this hotel with its Italian theme. This spectacular hotel has a wonderful setting, including a kids’ program, waterpark, spa, super outdoor pool.  It also has a beautiful choice of restaurants just outside the hotel which looks like a little Italian village (not included on the half board basis).  I would recommend this hotel for families and couples looking for an upmarket, relaxed hotel with a good choice of restaurants and amazing views.

To another contrast on Saadiyat Island – the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas is a 5-star luxury beach resort nestled along the pristine white sand beach. It would be easy to forget you were in Abu Dhabi here and may think you are overlooking the Indian Ocean.  It is an Eco-friendly hotel, where you can even catch a glimpse of whales swimming or seeing the turtles on the beach.  It is a secluded location, however just 20 minutes from Yas Island attractions and 10 minutes to the Corniche.  You can even stay in a private villa with pool overlooking the beach.  There is even Camp Hyatt for kids.  If you like modern luxury with relaxation this is for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIDstDXmQmc&noredirect=1

Then onto Yas Island – Playground of the Emirates. Hotels on Yas Island have access to the Yas beach club free of charge with an Ibiza feel, great for watching the sunset.  I stayed in the modern Crowne Plaza, sitting in a commanding position overlooking the pool, Yas links golf course and in the distance Ferrari World. Gorgeous views, with sumptuous interiors, a 25-metre outdoor pool, and numerous restaurants, bars and brasseries. 

 

The highlight of the trip was visiting the Yas Hotel overlooking the racing circuit and easy access to Ferrari World.   It is a modern world-class hotel, which looked quite futuristic.  Guest rooms were modern and extremely spacious.  You can even have a room overlooking the racing circuit.  They also have a nightclub between their 2 buildings.  The hotel’s roof features an LED lighting system that illuminates all 5,389 glass elements individually.

 

OUT N’ABOUT

We managed to fit in lots of recreational activities to try out on Yas Island – https://yasisland.ae/

The newest attraction on Yas Island, Warner Bros. World opened this past July. Featuring a total of 29 state-of-the-art rides, interactive family-friendly attractions and unique live entertainment, as well as a variety of authentically themed dining and shopping outlets.  This was great for families, whether looking for thrilling rides or something for younger kids – I particularly liked the Bedrock area, prepared to get wet on the water ride though!

Other major attractions are Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Water world, where you can use a Yas Park Pass to go between both parks with free transport.  Yas Mall shopping adjoins Ferrari world so can combine shopping and dining.  Loved both parks with the Ferrari World hosting the world’s fastest roller coaster and amazing kids play area and an opportunity to see the amazing Ferrari car’s close up.  I love waterparks and Yas Water world didn’t disappoint. 

Abu Dhabi is also featuring the Formula 1 https://www.yasmarinacircuit.com/en/formula-1/ in November this year where you can book a package suited to your requirements.  Or you can book your own driving experience.

 

 I was excited to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque https://www.szgmc.gov.ae/ar/Home.  WOW – absolutely beautiful.  There is a dress code, but I wore a black Abaya and headscarf which allowed me to get into the spirit of it.  It is huge and has the capacity for more than 40,000 people.  It has only been opened for 10 years. The architecture is stunning.  It’s worth going with a guide to tell you all about the history and traditions which is worth pre-arranging.

We visited the recently opened Louvre museum https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/ which is a Jean Nouvel-designed building, the first branch of the Louvre to open outside France. Its permanent collection comprises more than 600 pieces of art.  It even has a kid’s area which looked amazing.  The roof itself filters sunlight to create is described as “a rain of light”, throwing flecks of illumination on the white blocks and promenades that forms the building’s interior, best apparently seen when it is foggy outside.  Views of the city area great also from here.

 

A trip to Abu Dhabi wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Sand dunes.  I travelled on a Desert Safari to Hala Oasis https://www.arabian-adventures.com/experiences/?category=desertSafari where you can enjoy Camel Rides, see Belly Dancers, and have a Henna tattoo while indulging in an Arabian BBQ dinner underneath the stars.  Was such an amazing trip.  But be prepared for the sand bashing in the jeep – so much fun!

TOP TIPS

*Hotel rates are much cheaper than Dubai and in the hot summer months, are particularly attractive

*You can take a 90-minute trip by car to Dubai

*Abu Dhabi is becoming a major cruise port and a great place for clients to stay on a pre/post cruise or a stopover to the Far East or the Indian Ocean

*On a Tuesday night between 6-11pm, the racetrack is open to all who would like to walk, run or cycle around the Grand Prix circuit

 

If you fancy trying out this extraordinary destination yourself, please get in touch by contacting Julie on 07944542640 or Julie.Batchelor@Brillianttravel.co.uk