The Middle East is no stranger to a nice hotel room, and ten years in, I have high standards about my expectations when a new property comes along. While I certainly love luxury and well-known brands, more than anything, I like a quiet, modern room (while you might think this is easy, in practice, I believe it’s actually quite difficult). Thus, when I had an opportunity to stay at the Bab Al Qasr in December, I was happy to accept the invitation.
If you’ve spent any time in Abu Dhabi, you probably already recognize the iconic bronze cladding on the exterior of the building, which sets it apart from others in the skyline. Additionally, while being part of the Millennium Group, the Bab Al Qasr is actually included in the more elite Biltmore Luxury Collection (the first of the brand to launch in the UAE). Rumor also has it that this is one of the most expensive buildings in the UAE…
So, what were my favorite elements from my stay?
- The hotel is big, but doesn’t feel that way. From the soaring exterior, I was expecting an intimidating lobby and overwhelming space. However, inside, the area is broken down into much more manageable spaces (except for the stunning, soaring windows of the lobby).
- An excellent location. While the city of Abu Dhabi is more spread out than other capitals, the Bab Al Qasr is in a prime position to center on main island activities (local malls and the Corniche). The property also boasts unique views of Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace, and the Presidential Palace.
- A fun, easy to use control panel next to the bed. Want to turn on the lights? Press a button! Change the aircon? Press a button! It’s the ultimate for a lie in, or perfect for warming up the room in the morning.
- The staff. Every person I interacted with, be it at Limo, the newly opened Peruvian restaurant, or the front desk staff were all genuine, upbeat, and professional.
- Luxury features, but still family friendly. While I don’t travel with children, I did get the feeling the families would be welcome here.
Things to work on:
- The rooms are not 100% silent (no, I get that not every room can be). Still, hearing amorous behavior (or whatever was going on in one of the rooms near me) was a rude awakening out of sleep in the middle of the night.
- No plugs next to the beds. For such a new property, I was disappointed not to have the latest technology available. Sure, waking up with an uncharged phone is a bit of a #firstworldproblem, but it’s something I prefer (especially for a hotel opening in 2016).
- A better brand of toiletries. Floris seems a bit dated of a brand, and the packaging doesn’t lend itself to a luxury finish.
- The gorgeous exterior is already quite dirty and from the inside shows as dusty and weathered. A shame, as I had a beautiful room overlooking the Presidential and Emirates Palaces.
- I’m not going to lie, the driveway is a bit of a disaster. As a firm believer of feng shui, the tight turns, and small entrance does not seem to match the rather large building, or provide the easiest welcome to guests. As with the lack of plugs, for a building that was under construction for the better part of a decade, it feels a strange oversight and something that could have easily been avoided (especially when comparing to the nearby entrances of Emirates Palace or Etihad Towers).
While I have to admit that my preference would be to stay at one of the Saadiyat properties if I were visiting Abu Dhabi, Bab Al Qasr does a fine job adding competition to the market.
Have you visited the Bab Al Qasr yet? I can’t wait to go back once the spa opens (I’ve heard amazing things!).
A to Za’atar was a guest of Bab Al Qasr. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.