Rosemary Behan checks in to the Rosewood in Abu Dhabi.
Hotel insider: Rosewood, Abu Dhabi
Slick. The covered driveway at the foot of the 34-storey tower, designed by the Manhattan-based Handel Architects, is both stylish and businesslike. Inside, the lobby, designed like the rest of the interior by BBG-BBGM, also based in New York, wows with a combination of water features and walls textured with fabric and glass, all expertly lit and finished. Reception staff are pleasantly understated.
The hotel is situated in Sowwah Square, next to The Galleria mall and opposite the Cleveland Clinic. Access to Al Maryah Island from Abu Dhabi is via a road bridge extending from Al Falah Street. While much of the wider area is still under construction, Sowwah Square is already smartly buzzing.
The hotel has 189 rooms and suites, all with dark-wood feature panelling, floor-to-ceiling windows and large beds; it feels businesslike but luxurious. My room is about halfway up the building and faces the Cleveland Clinic and the water that separates the island from Abu Dhabi. It’s well designed, with full soundproofing, a large bed screened from the corridor by the bathroom and hallway, a glass-box bathroom and large television. The electronics are mostly controlled via an iPad, though annoyingly it doesn’t connect to the Wi-Fi. I like the blackout blinds, the bedding and pillows and the vast TV. Everything works, though I require help to use the coffee machine.
Anna, our Russian butler, is a little overeffusive though efficient, booking a yoga class for me and returning personally to confirm; when I don’t answer the doorbell, she lets herself in to replace the coffee capsules and is hugely apologetic. One staff member gets lost when I ask her for directions to La Cava, the underground wine bar that is reached via a spiral staircase. Service in Catalan, the Gaudi-inspired Spanish restaurant, is polished; Spice Mela, the hotel’s Indian offering, is equally elegant. It’s less than swift at the buffet breakfast in Aqua. There’s an element of overattentiveness in the staff milling around the entrance that’s the hallmark of new hotels everywhere.
The hotel feels quiet when I visit, though there’s still a pleasant atmosphere and most of the staff act confidently, though the design is the real star. La Cava, Catalan and Spice Mela restaurants have a pleasantly adult feel. Aqua offers a good view of Abu Dhabi.
I have the tasting menu in Catalan, which includes versions of gazpacho and paella; it’s an event, but I’m not blown away by the food, which at Dh574 including taxes is no more than you’d normally spend on this kind of multi-course molecular gastronomy. For the food rather than the ambience, I prefer Spice Mela, which delivers exquisite renderings of Indian classics such as tandoori lamb chops and is the best Indian food that I’ve had in Abu Dhabi (tasting menu Dh330 including taxes). The buffet breakfast at Aqua had some good-quality cold items, but the hot selection was uninspiring.
The underground Sense spa, and the Rosewood Complete facial I had, involving cleansing, steaming, extractions, a honey face-mask and massage with gem-infused oils. The effects lasted several days, which you would expect for an eye-watering Dh2,200.
The only downside to this hotel’s location is its lack of beach access.
A lovely new hotel with some great restaurants and, with the current advance-purchase rates available, it’s good value, too.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi (www.rosewoodhotels.com; 02 813 5550) cost from Dh835 per night including taxes.
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