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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Authentic taste of Thai hospitality in the capital

Rosemary Behan checks into the new Dusit Thani in Abu Dhabi.
The Orchid lounge at Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy of Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
The Orchid lounge at Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy of Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi

The welcome

Concentration is needed when arriving at this hotel for the first time, as the combination of an unexpectedly steep ramp and the view above of the soaring height of the glass-fronted tower could present difficulties if there were cars ahead of and behind you. Inside, the lobby, which takes you straight into the centre of the hotel’s huge atrium, is impressive and somehow homely. To the left is the reception desk and to the right is Orchid, an elegant lounge with some 1950s-style touches, a grand piano and an organic coffee bar.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is located on Muroor Road (4th Street), opposite the Mohammed Bin Zayed football stadium. The area is filling out with business and government buildings, and there’s a new footbridge over to the stadium. It’s 10 minutes in a taxi to the Corniche.

The room

The hotel has 402 rooms and 131 serviced apartments. My room was a one-bedroom suite, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering great views, silvery-grey curtains, grey carpets and furniture with a touch of Art Deco. A pretty potted orchid, tropical fruit bowl and a bicycle made of chocolate were nice touches in the living room. Unfortunately, the room lacked some basics, including tea bags or milk for coffee, and I couldn’t get the coffee machine to work. I asked housekeeping for foam pillows, but they only had sloped, orthopaedic ones, which were uncomfortable; a shame given that the bed was sublime. I had to close the curtains at night because of the flashing airline warning lights attached to my corner of the building. There was also a fairly bright night light in the bedroom hallway, which was impossible to turn off. Worst of all, the clock radio beside the bed had been set to go off at 6am. The large marble bathroom, with Art Deco-style mirror, was a treat.

The service

The staff have a reassuringly subtle and dignified approach, and many of them are Thai, which means a liberal use of the “Sawadeekaa” greeting. The spa staff were fantastically soothing even before the treatment. Check-in and check-out were fast and restaurant staff attentive without being too in-your-face.

The scene

When I arrived at the hotel, several Emiratis were conducting business meetings in the lobby and the lounge. Sadly, the pool deck, which has a good view of downtown Abu Dhabi, was crowded with cabin crew trainees. The hotel’s Thai restaurant, Benjarong, had a mixture of guests and the atmosphere was dignified, if a little dark. Once the hotel’s ground-floor shops open, and its ground-floor patisserie, the scene should mature. The Capital Grill, a steak restaurant, has a swanky lounge that deserves a loyal clientele.

The food

I had dinner in Benjarong and loved the papaya salad (Dh55) and rich, spicy seafood red curry (Dh120). Breakfast at Urban Kitchen was buffet-style and not standout.

Loved

My hour-long Thai massage (Dh450) was effective without being painful, and I felt like I was cocooned from the world in the pleasantly all-white, windowless, padded rooms. The hotel also has its own in-house Indian yoga teacher, Krishna, who serves up some seriously authentic asanas and Vedic chanting in his 90-minute sessions.

Hated

The unwanted early morning wake-up call.

The verdict

Check in for an authentically and unapologetically Thai experience, with a large helping of luxury.

The bottom line

Double rooms at the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi (www.dusit.com; 02 698 8888) cost from Dh580 per night, including taxes.

rbehan@thenational.ae

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