You can imagine when this Sheraton opened in Abu Dhabi as one of the first few hotels in the late 70’s it would have fit right in. But now? it’s a world away from the surrounding modern, glass, obnoxiously tall skyscrapers that dominate the centre.
Some Tripadvisor reviews have described its appearance as out-dated. It’s significantly smaller than most hotels (height wise anyway) but holds its own off Corniche Road with its sand-textured exterior.
Quite frankly, the fact that this family-friendly hotel is an exact opposite of what the rest of the City has become, is the main reason I hope to return.
After almost 24hours of travelling, Mo expertly navigated us from Dubai straight down the Sheikh Zayed Road until we finally screeched to a halt outside our hotel. Greeted with smiles, and sympathetic looks as they could sense (and probably see) our exhaustion we were ushered through the revolving doors and into the cool lobby. Here we were greeted by the even friendlier reception staff who took us through our stay.
As this trip was a family affair, we had three rooms booked, two were sorted quickly and ready straight away. Mo and I had to wait for our room as the hotel had kindly arranged for us to have a resort view upgrade. It was worth the wait as we were treated to this wonderful welcome:
Generous sized double bed, tv, desk area, balcony… I’m not going to go into major detail here because this room is exactly what they say it is, there are no hidden issues. My favourite element was the bathroom. Spacious power shower cubicle, large bathtub and my main concern on any visit – very clean and in good condition. A perfect base for our family holiday.
Let me take you through a few of my favourite things:
First, breakfast. A large continental fully stocked breakfast spread awaited us every morning. As a family we all had different eating habits, some opted for cereal, others egg, waffles, pancakes, cakes or all of the above. Personally, I couldn’t stay away from the traditional middle eastern choice… Foul moudamas. I had it every. single. day. I don’t for one second think you should do the same – but no visit to this area of the world is complete without at least trying it.
Speaking of food, we sampled a few meals at the hotel. We ordered from the all day menu a couple of times, from our room and also by the pool. The quality each time was of a very high standard, most times better than that of the fancy restaurants we visited in the city!
One thing I should mention which was a disappointment food wise (bearing in mind it was the only one) was the club level deals. Although they seemed reasonable, the club level itself was a bit of a let down – more so for those that don’t drink alcohol. The Cloud 9 area was quite small and the dining options weren’t as good as what we could find in other parts of the hotel, so as a non-drinker, upgrading to club access wasn’t worth it.
For the first time in the history of me staying at a hotel, I decided to use the gym. I really enjoyed it too! The leisure centre facilities are free for hotel guests. The machines looked brand new, I was completely spoilt for choice and the staff manning it were helpful and friendly. I found myself waking up at unheard of hours just to squeeze in an hour or so whilst the others slept (how I miss it!).
If the gym isn’t your thing, when on a sunny holiday you can’t go without stopping by the pool. It wasn’t huge, but it had a swim up bar and lots of surrounding deck chairs and tables mapped out over the sun spots. We spent most of our time at the kids pool, of which there are two, one for tiny tots and one for toddlers.
The kids had an absolute blast. I had brought with me some inflatables that I purchased from Bestway beforehand and I’d encourage anyone else with kids to do the same. Inflatables obviously flat pack so take up no room in luggage and just think of the hours of fun you can get out of them?!
Done with the pool? There’s always the beach. Again, I’ll be honest, it’s not huge. Unfortunately Abu Dhabi seems to have some weird ideas on road construction as the main Corniche Road bridges over the mouth of the bay which opens out to the sea from the private beach area. Don’t get me wrong there is still sand and sea, it’s just not a very big space. There is a water sports centre (quite reasonably priced I thought) which offer everything from paddle boards, canoes, banana boats and more, and don’t worry, they would take you out past the bay and into the open water.
Whilst we were there the hotel put on an outdoor cinema evening (family-friendly), with large double bean bags, popcorn and a traditional Arabic barbecue menu (5AED shawarmas!!) right on the beach.
After dinner, the outdoor B-Lounge transforms into a chic seating area for the adults wanting to relax. The amphitheatre style steps are covered in majlis cushions, lots of ambient light boxes and fairy lights hugged the palm trees (just like mine at home!). Here couples and groups can order drinks, food and sheesha. Resident dj’s put on evening sets of cool, relaxing tones – nothing heady hard-core. One night really made me smile when I heard one of our favourites Kwabs subtly echoing round the perimeter.
The more I look back over our trip the more I realise how much use we made of all the services that were available. The laundry service was on time; reception always on hand; lifeguard at the pool helped when I had a cut on my knee; dessert counter in the lobby made a beautiful cake we took away as a gift; concierge made calls for us when we needed to book places.
Before checking out, I grabbed a quick coffee with Judith, the Director of Marketing just to give some feedback on our stay and to ask her thoughts on the hotel and Abu Dhabi (you can see her #top3tips here).
She mentioned that the hotel still welcomes guests from when it first opened, regulars who now bring their children to the club, return to stay at the weekends and some staff members can boast 30+ years of service. For a hospitality business, that’s no mean feat and as she recounted tales I found myself nodding, as after a week here I can see why people would return.
For a country where ‘big and bold’ is everything, it was a welcome relief to stay in a hotel that didn’t boast over the top opulence. As a family of 6 adults and 2 children it catered to every eventuality. When you spend your time sight seeing round the Emirates and all you can see is bling, bling, bling, coming back to a homely, comfortable hotel was exactly what we needed.
When we going back?
Thank you to everyone at the Sheraton for taking such good care of my whole family during our stay, the service we received throughout was excellent!
** Mo and I received a view upgrade (from road to resort), not a room upgrade. This review is based on a 6 night stay in a Classic room.
Have you stayed at the Sheraton on Corniche Road? What are your thoughts on simple elegance vs over the top opulence?