TRIED & TESTED
Bab Al Qasr; Grand Mercure; Sheraton Grand; Mandarin Oriental; The LaLit
BACKGROUND The property, part of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ Biltmore collection, opened in Abu Dhabi in October 2016. It is a luxury hotel, and the second by the group on this emirate.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? MoroccanArabic. The exterior is painted in orange and terracotta, typical to Moroccan style. The cultural influences continue to show in the high balconies along the upper rim of the walls. Interiors that are predominantly cocoa-coloured with mother-of-pearl finishing reflect Arabic sensibilities, as do the prints on the carpet and cushions with tassels. There is a large tent like structure at the far end of the lobby that offers free Arabic coffee and dates in traditional cups.
On walking through the glass doors of the lobby, operated by a man of about seven feet in height (at least when I had visited), there are ample sofa seatings around coffee tables, amongst which is a display of delicious looking desserts.
To the right is the reception where check-in is completed rather quickly. Before I could zip my purse shut, I had a porter boy waiting to escort me up to my room. WHERE IS IT? The entrance to Bab Al Qasr in Corniche is opposite Emirates Palace and within walking distance to the Presidential Palace. It is 36km from Abu Dhabi International Airport and a two-hour drive from Dubai’s Business Bay.
ROOM FACILITIES I stayed in the Premier room (43 sqm) — one category higher than the base — Superior room (41 sqm) — with a view of Emirates Palace, and the sea behind it. In fact, all rooms have a sea view.
As you enter, the bathroom with a separate bathtub and a shower area is to your right. To the left is a cupboard, and a minibar with tea/coffee making facilities and free water bottles. Below the LCD television is a beautiful cabinet with carvings. An elaborate socket with plug points and ports for a USB stick and HDMI cable are built on top of this cabinet. Much to my discomfort, this was the only place where I could charge my phone when I slept because there were none by my bedside.
Large windows that let in ample daylight make one wall of the room. Being double glazed means the room remained cool despite the 40-degree plus temperatures outside. This also means that in the evenings, condensation on the glass restricted my view. I could control the curtains, television, radio and room lights via the bedside console.
Other amenities in the room include a work desk, safe, luggage rack and free wifi that was strong in all parts of the hotel apart from my room.
The Executive, Club Deluxe, Club rooms and all suites have access to the hotel’s Executive Club Lounge. It runs across two levels — nine and ten — and has three meeting rooms, work stations with computers and casual seating areas. There is also an F&B area where breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening snacks and happy hours are served.
The second tower at Bab Al Qasr has serviced apartments from studios to three-bed residences. RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Limo is a Peruvian restaurant and the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi. I made a meal of the small dishes; they’re delicious and come in a large selection. Morjana is
where impromptu meetings take place — this is the lobby-cumcafe. Breakfast is served in Artisan Kitchen. I started my mornings here with the traditional bread and switched from Chinese to European and finally Arabic breakfasts daily for variety — the cappuccino had a rich flavour. Fresh Basil is the delicatessen for those on the go. The bars here are the poolside Loop and the one at Limo. BUSINESS AND MEETING
FACILITIES The business centre occupies levels six to eight and are equipped with scanners, printers and copy machines. Al Dana Ballroom has a video-conferencing facility with a capacity for 500 delegates. Additionally, there are 15 meeting and function rooms.
LEISURE FACILITIES The spa is divided into two levels — one for men and the other for women. The outdoor infinity swimming pool is open from 8am-8pm. The 140-metre stretch of private beach is open from 8am until sunset. The gym is open round the clock.
VERDICT It is suited for business and leisure travellers with facilities to please both.