Christine Iyer checks into the new Hili Rayhaan by Rotana in Al Ain.
Hotel Insider: Hili Rayhaan by Rotana, Al Ain
We drive from Abu Dhabi, and find the hotel in about an hour and a half. Hili Rayhaan by Rotana in Al Ain is a vast, square building at one end of Bani Yas (117th) Street, just by the border with Oman. Valets quickly swarm around the car, grabbing the luggage while striking up a conversation with our 12-year-old son about the Asterix comic that he’s holding. Inside the lobby – all towering potted plants, plush chairs and gold trim – we’re offered gahwa and dates, then escorted to our rooms by a smiling member of staff.
There doesn’t seem to be much to do in the immediate vicinity, although we’re told that Al Ain Museum is nearby, and that we can pop into Oman if we wanted. Hili Archaeological Park is a few kilometres away, as is Al Qattara Oasis. Behind the hotel is the newly built Hili Housing Complex.
The hotel seems full of local residents and Omanis – young couples, families and even a football team. The pool, visible from the lifts, is taken over by noisy children during the day, so we make a point to visit in the early hours of the morning when the only soul about is a sleepy lifeguard. The main restaurant, Elements, remains busy throughout the day. The hotel is annexed to Hili Mall, which opened late last year, and even though it isn’t 100 per cent operational when we visit, plenty of guests head there after breakfast to check it out. The hotel doesn’t have a spa, but there are sauna and steam rooms. A peep into the Bodylines gym reveals a row of men panting away on treadmills.
Our premium one-bedroom suite is immense. The sitting area has couches, a large centre table, a dining table with four chairs and a writing desk, and it still manages to look airy. The furnishings are a bit dull – all dark blue and beige – but the large windows let in plenty of light and brighten things up considerably. The bedroom has a high, extremely comfortable bed, topped with dense but feather-light pillows, and blackout curtains that actually work. The bathroom is big, with a shower and a supersized bath. Our son is in an adjoining twin room, and he couldn’t be happier, with a big plate of fruit and a television tuned in to a cartoon channel.
Faultless, especially for a brand-new hotel that one would expect would still have teething problems. Staff are courteous and well informed, and housekeeping is quick to respond to calls for regular tea (there’s only jasmine and green stocked in our suite), and extra towels, after our son manages to drop three into the bath.
We have our meals at Elements, which is popular among guests for its international buffet with the usual suspects – biryani, lemon chicken, pasta, salads, Arabic desserts. Along one side of the high-ceilinged restaurant is a drinks bar, which serves fresh juices and mocktails (the hotel is dry). There’s also the Sundeck Pool Cafe, full of families eating club sandwiches and fries, and the Majlis cafe.
The soundproof rooms, and the quality L’Occitane products, especially the bubble bars that fizz up beautifully when popped into the bath.
The socket meant for the electric kettle is set too close to the tabletop for the plug to fit in. I end up making tea on my bedside table.
A smaller, less expensive cousin of the Al Ain Rotana, with similar comforts and on-par service, plus a shopping mall to boot.
The bottom line
Classic twin rooms cost from Dh522 per night, including breakfast and taxes. Hili Rayhaan by Rotana, Bani Yas Street, Al Ain (www.rotana.com; 03 705 3333).
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