With many hotel options to choose from, I decided to book the Aloft Abu Dhabi, in part because I had read good things about this new concept brand by Starwood, but primarily because of its free internet access. My expectations were exceeded, with super-comfy beds with high-grade Egyptian cotton linens; ultra-modern yet functional furnishings and bathroom fittings; extra feather pillows; soothing colors and perfectly opaque black-out blinds that let you sleep in!
The bonus: FREE water and mini fridge! Yes, no nickel-and-dime added expense for bottled water in the room, a BIG plus for me! True, a 3 oz. cup of Hagen Das ice cream cost approximately $6 in re:fuel, the lobby snack shop, but so what? Ice cream is a luxury! Water is ESSENTIAL.
The over-sized spa shower was divine, but there was a problem with the water temperature, which intermittently changed from warm to scalding. The engineering crew was working on by this, we were told, but the experience overshadowed the Bliss Spa amenities and thick, luxurious cotton bath sheets that are standard issue.
Another minor complaint–no bathrobes! In the midst of amenities, this one detail was missing, and the robe delivered on my second day was child-sized, and barely fit me. What ever happened to His and Her robes?
As an off-shoot of “W” Hotels, Aloft was very cutting edge, including the infinity pool and rooftop relax@12 bar overlooking the city. ADNEC is located along the same road where most embassies can be found, including US, Poland, France and an elaborate Morocco. Our room overlooked the Khor Al Bateen waterway, with views of exclusive villas on Hodariyat Island.
We ate breakfast at the Mai Cafe & Restaurant, which will one day have a beautiful view of the surrounding embassies and convention complex, but now overlooks a huge construction site. The buffet was extensive, but at a convention-center price:80 Dirhams (about $22).
Service was excellent, and the front desk clerk surprised me by calling me by name my first morning there. Housekeeping, however, should be more prudent in their clean-up, as my sample-sized cosmetic packets, which normally last me 3-4 days, were tossed after only one use.
Aloft is located in the new convention center, and was virtually empty when we checked in. The hotel opened in October 2009, and is part of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC) complex which features the leaning tower in the accompanying photo. Access from the main highway is easy, although if you miss the exit or turn, you’ll have to drive several miles in the opposite direction to back-track.
Back-tracking was a given wherever we went in Abu Dhabi…similar to Doha, the roads were designed with traffic circles and few left turning or U-turn lanes. As a passenger, it seemed that we were repeatedly going the opposite direction we were headed, and what should have been a few minutes drive from one destination to the next, literally took half an hour! I, for one, would have trouble driving here.
Bottom line: Almost perfect! I will definitely stay at Aloft again. Starwood delivers.