I’m fond of a little staycation, and frankly, any excuse to make a day at the beach last longer! It’s like a little holiday, but all wrapped up into a weekend and without having to worry about the stresses of travel! So last weekend after never having visited the hotel previously, we decided it was finally time to check out the Hilton Abu Dhabi, one of the oldest hotels in the city, but also one of the most loved.
When we talk about ‘one of the oldest hotels in the city’, there’s a tendency to worry that they’re outdated and struggling to keep up with the times, but there are most definitely notable exceptions to this rule, and the Hilton Abu Dhabi is one of them. This hotel’s name precedes it, and it is often talked about in the city not least for its range of dining and entertainment options, many of which remaining firm favourites in the capital, and of course not forgetting the well-known Hiltonia Beach Club which is an institution in itself.
Set in the heart of town along the Corniche, the hotel may not look particularly special from the outside and is almost dwarfed by some of the more modern buildings that have grown up around it, but the interior is traditional yet very well maintained and still has that luxury air to it, though the feeling I get on stepping inside is perhaps a little more relaxed, welcoming even, than elsewhere. There’s even something about the atmosphere that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I immediately have a really good feeling, and feel very comfortable and at home within the hotel.
The hotel has remained a firm favourite amongst the residents of the city over the years for two reasons – the range of dining and entertainment options, and of course, the beach club!
With the award-winning Bocca Italian restaurant, Vasco’s by the beach, Hemingway’s pub, Royal Orchid Chinese, Toka Japanese (another award winner) and the Jazz Bar to name just a few of the highlights of the hotel I’m not quite sure how I haven’t visited before now!
When the hotel was first built in 1973, there wasn’t much else around, and they were surrounded by the glorious sands of the Corniche beach and views over the water into the Gulf. Since then, the Corniche Road along with the city has grown up around it and to get to the beach now, you have to take a short walk, crossing under the road through a bright and cheery subway adorned with mosaics illustrating a now long gone way of life. If, like me, subways conjure images of big cities and crime-ridden dark passageways, you needn’t worry – as of course firstly this is Abu Dhabi where the crime rate is very low, and secondly, just to ensure it stays this way the subway is not only well-lit, but is monitored 24 hours a day by camera.
On reaching the other side and the entrance to the Hiltonia Beach Club you are welcomed into not just a beach club, but what feels like an oasis of calm and greenery in the city.
And the there’s something for everyone too – relax on the beach or by the pool, get active in the fitness centre or with one of the many activities the club hosts from swimming lessons for kids, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and more, or take a dip in one of their three pools..!
There’s plenty to keep the kids amused as well, with a kids club for those aged three and over, two water slides, a kids pool and a fenced and shaded safe play area for the little ones.
And what’s a pool without a swim up bar for the grown ups?! But of course they’ve got that covered too… 😀
The club is a good size, stretching along a long private beach (the beach also holds the Blue Flag award for cleanliness and environmental safety standards), and offers views looking right the way back along the corniche.
The club does get busy, particularly in the afternoons, but there is plenty of space and it’s still easy enough to find your own little spot of serenity.
On our arrival at the hotel on the Friday we had a buffet lunch at La Terrazza restaurant which whilst didn’t offer a range as large as others, there was more than enough to choose from and the quality was certainly impressive – the pasta dish we chose for Baby Arabian Notes was simple, but one of the tastiest pastas I’ve eaten in a fair while and I’m not ashamed to say I couldn’t resist but to scoff his leftovers too!
After a tough day at the beach we dined in the evening at the award-winning Bocca which was also excellent – we’d ordered room service from the kids menu for Baby earlier on (toasted cheese sandwich, he polished the lot off!), and this gave us a rare chance to dine out in peace!
We had a lovely relaxing weekend at the hotel and I’d definitely recommend it, there’s just so many options under one roof to choose from and there’s heaps of regular events going on there too from barbecues and ladies nights to themed buffets, happy hours, quiz nights and more.
Find out more on the Hilton Abu Dhabi website here.
We’re already planning to go back – next on the list to try there is Vasco’s which looks to be a lovely place to sit outside in the cooler months.