x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

The Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi

A very comfortable but also surprisingly stylish and fun hotel with several desirable restaurants and bars.

The tastefully decorated rooms at the Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi, are spacious yet intimate.
The tastefully decorated rooms at the Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi, are spacious yet intimate.

The hotel is about 14km from downtown Abu Dhabi on the Eastern Ring Road, but is well-signposted. When I drive up to the entrance, I'm attended to by several staff who valet the car, label my bags and whisk them and me inside in less than a minute. The entrance to the hotel is marked by an impressive glass front and inside, the reception area is part of a spacious and stylish open-plan area with a glass staircase, cafe and comfortable reading area.

The hotel sits in the centre of the new Park Rotana Complex, next to the Park Arjaan Rotana, a block of furnished serviced apartments. It backs on to Khalifa Park, which is pleasant to walk around and often hosts family entertainment, and is close to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Al Bateen Airport and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Abu Dhabi Airport is about 10 minutes away.

Weekdays see a lot of business people staying, but in the evening the bars and restaurants are filled with Abu Dhabi professionals. Fridays see lots of families at brunch and a few weekenders from Dubai sunbathing by the pool.

My room is a club Rotana classic suite on the eighth floor. It's both spacious and intimate, with the line between the bedroom and living areas cleverly marked by a large, revolving flat-screen television, which has an abstract print on the reverse. I liked the dark pastel colours, tall designer headboard, thick blackout curtains and floor-to-ceiling windows with hefty double glazing. Unlike many new hotel rooms, everything seemed to work properly. The bathroom had no bath but there was a choice of a normal or "rain bath" shower. Best of all was the soft lighting - easy to use and tailored perfectly to fit the interiors.

Being a recent opening, staff were on high alert and perhaps a little too attentive in the lobby area - given more guests, however, this won't be a problem. My request for extra-firm pillows brought new ones quickly, although they were still not firm enough, so housekeeping slipped a pillowcase over one of the upholstered pillows from the sitting area. A follow-up call to check service had been administered was reassuring.

The hotel has three restaurants, all on the ground floor, although a fourth, Amador, is due to open this year. The signature restaurant is Teatro, a wonderfully theatrical restaurant and bar with groovy grand interiors featuring Venetian masks, chandeliers and velvet curtains. On the first night I had a sublime nine-course fusion tasting menu courtesy of Spanish chef David Munoz, who was taking part in Gourmet Abu Dhabi. The second night was more down-to-earth fare with Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian dishes on the menu. Here, the meat vastly outshone the vegetarian options. The green papaya salad (Dh50) with chilli, shrimp, apple and peanuts, was decent, the half Peking duck (Dh90) more satisfying. The Thai green curry (Dh65) was fresh and spicy but would have benefited from some tofu or different vegetables; my companion's grilled Wagyu fillet (Dh260 for 200g) which came with a good selection of accompaniments, went down better. Ginger, the all-day dining and buffet restaurant, put on an excellent breakfast spread but even better was the Friday brunch, where every dish looked completely fresh. The Levantine selection included excellent broad bean salad, Farhafina salad, muhammara and shanklish; there was also very good sushi and hammour cerviche and some interesting dishes including fennel, smoked salmon and orange salad and vegetable salouna, a tasty Emirati dish. For dessert, the mango cheesecake and rice pudding got my vote.

Getting a good night's sleep in the virtually soundproof bedroom, the atmosphere at Teatro restaurant and the cosy lounge on the ninth floor. The treatments at the Bodylines fitness centre were also excellent - the "energising massage" - (Dh360) for one hour - left me virtually comatose but I wasn't complaining. The foot reflexology (Dh350) for one hour, carried out expertly by Mohammed Arif from Delhi, was somewhat painful but left me feeling as light as air.

The best seating areas at most of the restaurants are designated smoking areas; at Teatro one night a friend and I were placed hard up against a wall and missed all the drama coming from the kitchen. There is a charge of Dh50 per hour for wireless internet access, but those on the executive floors are able to get free access all day in the Club Rotana lounge.

A very comfortable but also surprisingly stylish and fun hotel with several desirable restaurants and bars.

Standard rooms cost from $173 (Dh638), including taxes, on weekdays and just $126 (Dh463), including taxes, on weekends. The Park Rotana, off 8th Street, Abu Dhabi (www.rotana.com; 02 657 3333).

rbehan@thenational.ae