(Pete Townshend) – The Sheraton, Abu Dhabi
Another jaunt to Abu Dhabi, this one designed to coincide with my son’s fiftieth birthday which, rather inconveniently for all concerned, falls on December 26th – Boxing Day.
I did my research, conscious that ‘festive’ breaks carry a significant premium. The Yas Viceroy and Jumeirah Etihad Towers – both of which I’ve enjoyed staying at in the past – were scarily expensive, while my preferred travel company secured me a relatively affordable break at the Abu Dhabi Sheraton, and all inclusive to boot.
The Sheraton is one of the first three hotels to open in Abu Dhabi, in the distant past of 1979, it’s refreshingly low-rise, located at the eastern end of the Corniche, dwarfed by the more modern hi rise buildings that surround it on three sides. Soon, if the ground clearance is anything to go by, on all four sides.
I arrived at lunchtime on Christmas Eve, after an overnight flight and a few hours layover in Bahrain. Check in was brisk and efficient, I was presented with a rubber wristband to denote my ‘All Inclusive’ status. I was also talked through some of the restrictions, which restaurants and bars were included and which excluded.
The main restaurant, used for breakfast, lunch and dinner is ‘Flavours’ and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my AI status included their Christmas Eve buffet which would otherwise have cost AED 235 (about £55), it was a lavish affair, with lots of appetising dishes, although I’ve enjoyed more exciting buffets in Abu Dhabi.
My room was on the 7th floor, overlooking the ’City’, it was comfortable and well appointed, with a large, comfortable bed, desk, tv and so on.
The room, like the hotel itself is ‘old school’, not in a tired way, but in a solid, wood furniture sort of way. It’s a refreshing change to many of the more modern, glitzy hotels I’ve stayed at in the Emirates.
Outside there are three interlinked pools, extensive decking and seating/lounging areas, three outside bars, a health club and the vestiges of what was once a beach onto the creek. Since the construction of the Corniche a few years ago it’s now a lagoon, but with access to the ‘open sea’ by way of a bridge under the aforementioned Corniche.
As I mentioned previously, there are a number of restaurants and bars on offer, ‘El Sombrero’ (Mexican), ‘La Mamma’ (Italian), ‘The Tavern’ (English pub) and ‘Flavours’ (main hotel dining room), but most are excluded – if you’ll excuse the pun – to ‘All Inclusive’ guests.
Overall, I enjoyed my brief stay, the hotel staff were, for the most part, efficient and welcoming, working within the constraints of the ‘All Inclusive’ restrictions.
The Sheraton is unashamedly ‘Old School’, that’s one of its charms, and until the pressure to redevelop the site with something taller, glitzier and more efficient, long may it so remain.