Spoiler alert, I’ve lived in the UAE for ten years, and while I’ve driven through Al Ain a few times, I’ve never actually stayed overnight. As Hubs did quite a bit of work in the city circa 2009 (including the wildlife park), I was happy to accept an invitation to revisit this slower paced desert city. A relatively quick and easy 1:20-minute drive from Dubai, other than the lack of signage to actually get into the hotel (you’ll need to detour around the stadium), the exterior of the Aloft Al Ain matches the interior — modern and low-key. The lobby is an expansive, open plan space, complete with a pool table, entrance to the W XYZ bar, and a grab and go deli counter (the Emirates need more of these, TBH).
What I liked:
- So modern! This is the first time in a long time that I’ve stepped into a hotel in the UAE and really thought I could be back in the States. I especially liked the exposed HVAC system, which gave the floors an upscale loft feeling.
- The rooftop pool. It’s the only rooftop pool (complete with an infinity edge) and bar in Al Ain, and provides a unique view of the city (including some amazing perspectives of Jebel Hafeet, especially at night).
- Effusive and professional staff. Even though this is not a big city property, each of the staff I interacted with was clearly very proud of the hotel. Even if the group knew why we were visiting (to review), I don’t think attitudes like this can be faked — each person was genuine in their delivery of service, and sincere in putting a smile on your face.
- Value for money. In a world of break the budget properties, I appreciated the fair pricing. For those of you looking for a hotel stay but not willing to drop over AED1,000 per night, I would sincerely suggest checking out the rates at the Aloft Al Ain — I think you’ll be very impressed.
- Mobility friendly. While I wasn’t able to look into all of the elements, I definitely spotted an approach to guests who might have mobility issues. This is relatively rare to find in the UAE, so great job, Aloft!
A few minor quibbles:
- As a foodie, this is not particularly the destination for memorable dishes. With the exception of a wonderfully creative pastry chef (who shined at every turn), I found the food at Olive Tree to be average at best (of course, my counterargument would be the Aloft was never intended to be a fine dining destination).
- Similarly, with cocktails (at the Rooftop Bar), creative ingredients do not always equal success. While I enjoy bartenders who aren’t afraid to take risks, I would recommend sticking with the basics.
- Watch the timing. Hubs and I waited well over 35 minutes for our lunch (not during a rush). While I understand food can take time, there has to be a limit on how long a patron can be expected to wait.
Would I go back? Well, I don’t currently have plans to return to Al Ain anytime soon, but given the low cost, I could easily see bringing guests out from Dubai to the Wadi Adventure Park or the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort and staying over at the Aloft Al Ain. While I think the property is best visited during cooler months, I do believe the modern hotel is worth checking out.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Aloft Al Ain. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.