Sofitel, Abu Dhabi Corniche
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@sofitel.com. Visit www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-7507-sofitel-abu-dhabicorniche/index.shtml.