A year ago today I got to stay in one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. Whilst my visit was short, a mere five nights, the St Regis Abu Dhabi is one of those hotels that makes it impossible for any other hotel to live up to it and is the perfect place to pick for your Middle Eastern escapade.
Part of the Starwood hotel group, purchased by Marriott International a couple of years ago, the St Regis hotel chain dates back to the early 1900’s when John Jacob Astor IV opened the first hotel in New York. With 283 guestrooms and suites, all of which offering impressive views across either the city of Abu Dhabi or the Arabian Gulf, depending on what side of the skyscraper you are staying on. All guests in the hotel also have access to a 24 hour butler service, which includes accessing the ‘eButler’ via email, packing and unpacking services, ironing services, advice on where to eat in the city, retail recommendations, travel assistance and so much more, all to ensure your stay is the best that it can be.*
My room, on the 44th level, with floor to ceiling windows, lounge area, mood lighting, crystal and marble everything in the bathroom – which came with a TV in the mirror and a separate shower room and toilet room within the actual bathroom, the bathroom alone was bigger than some flats in London.
Once you are done marveling at the splendour of all of this, the hotel has a pile of places to eat. The Terrace on the Corniche is open all day and provides European and Middle Eastern flavours and is included should you wish to stay at the hotel on a half board basis. This was one of my favourite places to eat in the hotel and provided a lovely environment for each meal. Villa Toscana serves Italian food that is far from typical, including lobster soups served with calamari – and it is here that you can also take an Italian cooking class if you wish, but as I was only visiting for five days, I did not opt to do. The Cabana Bar and Grill offers flavours of South America as an eclectic option, with Asian fusion food at another restaurant and the freshest seafood you could ask for at another, appropriately named Catch.
If strolling along white, sandy beaches is your thing, Nation Riviera Beach Club gives guests access to 200 metres of the stuff, leading down to the turquoise waters of the gulf. The beach club is accessible via a private, beach tunnel which runs under the corniche. It also features a fitness centre and personal trainers are available if you think you may have over indulged at one of the restaurants. A temperature controlled swimming pool with swim up bars and private sun loungers aid any level of desired relaxation.
When you stay at The St Regis Abu Dhabi you also get super easy access to the National Galleria Mall which was a little quiet when I went but no less fabulous. With almost 75 shops and eateries, retail therapy is not to be missed in Abu Dhabi. There are a range of places in this mall to purchase everything from abayas to luxury chocolates. I would highly recommend visiting one of the several tea shops too. I sampled a few when I was there with my favourite being Leopolds of London.
Afternoon tea is available at the St Regis Abu Dhabi and emulates that of the founding first lady, Lady Astor and her tradition of inviting her closest friends to tea at the St Regis New York. For a more 21st century experience, there are over twenty loose leaf teas to pick from as well as a number of cakes, sandwiches, scones and so much more. Whilst we did not get the opportunity to sample the afternoon tea here on this visit, it is definitely something I would like to try on my return.
As drinking alcohol in public spaces is a punishable offence in the UAE and it being against the law to be under the influence of alcohol in public, it is best to stick to the designated drinking areas. If you do try to take an alcoholic beverage out of the bar or restaurant into the foyer of the hotel, a member of staff will often politely remind you and prompt you to return to the bar area with your drink, so it is best to stick to the bars. This hotel has a number of them so it isn’t difficult to play by the rules, including the Crystal Lounge, which offers the finest champagne in the world to its customers. Azura however, is the bar you want to head to if a panoramic view of gulf is what you are seeking whilst sipping something splendid. I simply cannot include all of the places available to sample at the St Regis in one post but one of my favourite bars was the namesake St Regis Bar. Three rooms in a style of bar that would not be amiss in late 1800’s New York, but with a big splash of Arabian luxury, evident in the camel and horse racing scenes depicted on the walls, this bar provides a cosy spot where you are able to enjoy a beverage or two, and even catch up on some sports. There is also a library and a cigar lounge available which proves ever popular with guests from around the Gulf.
Personally, I have never been a fan of spas or spa treatments, but I understand the appeal. With that being said, the Remede Spa, spanning over 3000 square meters, offers guests a wide range of bespoke treatments, just in case you needed help to relax after all of this. When you tire of the hotel, if that is even possible, there is a complimentary shuttle service to Yas Island, which I would highly recommend taking, and one to the Grand Mosque, for which I have a completely separate blog post coming.
*Staying at this hotel is very dangerous – so much so, you become susceptible to being too wound down, and you may find it difficult to return to normal life upon departure.
Hands down, one of my best hotel stays ever, I would love to return to the St Regis Abu Dhabi one day an perhaps even try out the one in New York. Where is the best place you have ever stayed and what did you love about it?