Sof­i­tel, Abu Dhabi Cor­niche

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Feels like… Ali­cante, Spain Brand new five-star ho­tel over­look­ing a golden beach? Check. An out­stand­ing seafood restau­rant with a menu to diet two weeks ahead for? Check. A lux­ury suite with spec­tac­u­lar views over­look­ing the sea? Check!

What more could a girl cel­e­brat­ing her birth­day ask for? Well, a spa treat­ment, a meal with friends and four birth­day cakes – that’s what. I’d hinted to my hus­band that I wanted a week­end away in Europe as a treat. I’d spent lots of time in Spain’s sea­side re­sort Ali­cante when I was young and loved ev­ery mo­ment, so I was hop­ing for a busi­ness-class ticket tucked away in my birth­day card. In­stead there was a reser­va­tion at the Sof­i­tel’s newly opened ho­tel in the UAE’s cap­i­tal and, paella and fla­menco-danc­ing aside, there re­ally wasn’t much dif­fer­ence.

Driv­ing past the Grand Mosque and along the cor­niche we be­gan to feel the hol­i­day vibe, and the ho­tel, once we found it – it’s tucked away from the seafront – was gor­geous. The high ceil­ings, mod­ern de­sign and lux­u­ri­ous fit­tings (yes, it was an­other suite with a huge bath­tub and flatscreen TV) could have eas­ily been from a five-star es­tab­lish­ment in the Mediter­ranean.

As soon as we dumped our bags we headed straight for the out­door pool and jacuzzi where the am­bi­ence – along with the guests – was pure Euro­pean chic. We sun­bathed among the beau­ti­ful peo­ple un­til sun­down, when af­ter a quick shower it was time to cel­e­brate at La Mer, the fab­u­lous seafood restau­rant run by Chef Paul Wieser. Over­look­ing the sea, the restau­rant is un­der­stated el­e­gance, with the coolest chairs I’ve ever seen out­side a de­sign mu­seum, and an ex­otic menu laden with freshly caught prawns, and suc­cu­lent scal­lops served with or­ange and beet­root cubes.

At La Mer, you can or­der à la carte or choose your own crea­ture from the sea at the ‘fish mar­ket’ and have it cooked to your ex­act or­der. My hus­band went for his usual lob­ster, which he had grilled, with a vinai­grette sauce – declar­ing it de­li­cious – while my chil­dren had bat­tered fish and prawn tem­pura along with gi­ant chips. I went for a green salad with a side or­der of mashed potato – a weird but won­der­ful com­bi­na­tion – which left just enough room for dessert.

My fam­ily in­sisted they wanted a choco­late pud­ding, which we saw the din­ers on the next ta­ble tuck­ing into, but I have never been one for

choco­late, even if it was ooz­ing a gooey y yummy-look­ing fill­ing. Luck­ily I held off or­der­ing that or my usual lemon sor­bet be­cause a huge straw­berry birth­day cake sud­denly ar­rived com­plete with a sparkler in the top and my name writ­ten in ic­ing. I squealed, thrilled, and then went for the sugar rush, in­dulging in two gi­ant help­ings. Well, it was my birth­day!

Ex­tremely happy, we made our way back to our suite with its panoramic cor­niche views and sat watch­ing the stars un­til it was time for bed.

The next day we headed for the beach, which was very rem­i­nis­cent of Ali­cante, though the sea was de­cid­edly warmer. Fi­nally, we headed home, grate­ful for our ‘Span­ish-style’ stay­ca­tion.

It’s great to know there’s a ho­tel with h Euro el­e­gance right on our doorstep, and we can’t wait to go back.

DE­TAILS: Rooms from Dh520. For reser­va­tions call 02 813 7777 or email H7507@sof­i­ Visit www.sof­i­­tel-7507-sof­i­tel-abu-dhabi­cor­niche/in­dex.shtml.

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