A brilliant boutique business hotel which is fashionable and functional, getting there is confusing and unprepossessing.
OnetoOne, Abu Dhabi
Simple, efficient and something of a relief not to have the usual battery of greeters. The porters dealt with the baggage quickly, valet parked the car and left us to check-in at the main desk. Passports were taken and delivered minutes later to the room. Reception area is stylish; lots of wood and beige with the occasional splash of deep purple and fun touches such as the 14 quirky clocks that decorate the wall in the coffee bar.
City centre business, currently surrounded by cranes amid a sea of devastation from which one assumes will arise more office and apartment blocks. For now it's just rubble cement and a thousand hard hats. Not that it matters; walk through the porters' lodge and you enter what looks like a miniature model mini village; small scale houses made of stone and marble with interesting angular protrusions. It's a world of its own and defiantly different for Abu Dhabi.
Warm and friendly without being overattentive. Room service comes with its own brand name, 24/7, and as the name suggests provides a range of international cuisine at all times. Staff are polite, helpful and largely unobtrusive.
Think Canary Wharf or Manhattan apartment without the river or the park or the views. It's modern, minimal and neutral. There is little to distract you; two-tone brown and beige curtains and walls, attractive lamps and a reasonable amount of space in the standard room. There are (surprisingly) 128 rooms across six categories. Bathrooms are big but lacking the style of the rest of the hotel, and don't have separate shower units. The bath in my room was pockmarked, but I am sure that was just bad luck unlike the stuck-on anti-slip strips, presumably an afterthought to stop old ladies suing but must surely be seen as naff as well as uncomfortable by its sophisticated clientele. Another tiny irritation is the fixed unit hair dryer meaning there is no relaxing way of blow- drying your hair.
Relatively new, relatively hip, guests have the air of quietly being in the know. Everything they need is on hand and hassle free - a business centre with enough computers to avoid hanging around, free Wi-Fi, 24-hour service, a small rooftop pool shared only with the three or four residents in the same block, a gym, spa treatments, good food. Chic rather than showy, the dress code - understated, elegant - reflects the clientele; some in groups, some solo and a few are with families, but they all appear purposeful and discerning.
One of the highlights of the hotel. Just as the bedrooms feel more like apartments, minus kitchen, so do the eateries owe more to restaurant culture than hotel dining and there is enough range to stop boredom setting in. Sahirye serves Lebanese food, plus a bit of live entertainment; resto, international cuisine on à la carte and the typical mixed buffet; 18oz is a Steak house and Wockano with its unique blend of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese food is one of the better Asian restaurants in Abu Dhabi. Each of the four is individually designed to reflect its theme and all are intimate enough to feel special.
The simplicity. So many hotels in Abu Dhabi are peopled with well-meaning staff who fall at the first hurdle when you ask a question. Here everything seems to work and frustration is kept at bay.
Getting there. The drive to it is confusing and unprepossessing; a building site without any visionary promise. I also hated that the attendant in the gym made a point of showing me - but not my husband - how to use the emergency button on the running machine, presumably on the basis that he thought I might need it.
A brilliant boutique business hotel which is fashionable and functional. It provides the professional with the right culture for working and for relaxing without paying for all the leisure facilities for which he or she has no time. As a holiday destination it has less to offer - the rooftop pool with its plastic grass lawn is too small to be a draw and -because it is shared - not private enough to be personal. Nor do the bedrooms offer enough light to be enjoyed during the day. But for the businessman who wants to focus on work and not be bothered by noisy holidaymakers or the clutter of the over designed hotel room, it is perfect.
Rates start at Dh1,200 a night. www.onetoonehotels.com; 02 4952 000.