Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Aloft Abu Dhabi

1 May 2010 by AndrewGough

BACKGROUND Starwood’s “baby W” select-service brand launched in June 2008 with the philosophy “style at a steal”. It is growing fast – there are now about 40 hotels, mainly in the US, with ten more set to open this year. The first Middle Eastern property opened in Abu Dhabi in October last year, while the first for Europe will be in Brussels in September.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Aloft’s young, fun vibe is immediately evident. Pop music greets you at the main entrance – the bare white décor of which is punctuated by bright bean bags – and a lift takes you to the colourful, high-ceilinged lobby, with the “Aloha” reception desk at its centre – there are also self-service check-in kiosks where you can print boarding passes. A bank of TVs and a digital ticker tape show news headlines, while a raised area has comfy seating and jazzy rugs. There is also the W Xyz bar, with stripy multicoloured panelling, and Refuel, a 24-hour self-service snack area. Leading off from the lobby is all-day restaurant Dine.

WHERE IS IT? The hotel is part of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), located in a fast-developing area 15 minutes’ drive from the Corniche, traffic permitting. A lot of embassies are based here, and opposite is Capital Centre – currently a building site, it will have seven hotels and 23 mixed-use towers when complete. It’s about 16km from the airport.

ROOM FACILITIES The 408 rooms and suites are located on the first to 12th floors, with rooms measuring 39 sqm and suites 50-52 sqm. There are a range of categories – rooms have the same amenities but are differentiated by location and view. I stayed in an eighth-floor Breezy room, which was spacious with grey walls and a blue carpet. A king-size bed faced a wall-mounted 42-inch flatscreen TV, on either side of which were windows looking out at ADNEC, the Capital Centre site and the Capital Marina. There was a sofa under the TV, and beneath each window was a long desk, one of which was set up for working with an adjustable chair, free wifi and wired internet connection (get a cable from reception) and a media hub for linking your gadgets to the television. Hotel information was available via the TV to save on paper, and there was air conditioning, a fridge, tea and coffee facilities and free mineral water.
Rather than having a separate bathroom, there was a dressing/washing area to the immediate right that could be divided off by a sliding door. It had a big walk-in shower with full-size dispensers containing Bliss products, a bowl-style sink and bidet. A roomy wardrobe housed an iron/ironing board, hairdryer and safe.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Aloft properties traditionally have limited dining facilities, but Abu Dhabi’s offering is more extensive, largely a result of alcohol only being available in the emirate’s hotels. Dine serves a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner (at 6.30am-10.20am, 12pm-3pm and 6pm-10.30pm), as well as à la carte dishes including burgers and pizzas. Last orders are at 11pm. The buffet spreads are extensive and offer a variety of cuisines, with some nice local options.

Refuel offers drinks and snacks to go, with a larger choice available between noon and midnight. W Xyz bar (open 11am-late) serves cocktails, light bites and hosts DJ sessions – it was lively on the Saturday night I stayed – while Mai café (11am-11pm) by the outdoor pool serves international dishes with an Arabic flavour. Rooftop bar Relax@12 has indoor and outdoor seating, great views and DJs in the evening. It serves Oriental bites, tapas and sushi and is open 5pm-2am (3am weekends).

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are three meeting rooms on the lobby level, the largest of which holds 40 people theatre-style. For larger events, there’s the whopping 73,000 sqm of space in ADNEC, including 12 exhibition halls and 20 meeting rooms. An outdoor terrace near the pool has nice views and can hold about 900 standing, while Relax@12 can also be used for events. Behind Refuel is an area with four PCs and a printer.

LEISURE FACILITIES A lovely outdoor infinity pool (open 7am-11pm) on the fifth floor has plenty of sunbeds and seating. It connects by a walkway to a 24-hour gym with Life Fitness equipment.

VERDICT An excellent, good-value choice – rooms are well designed and the leisure and dining options are a cut above what you might expect from an Aloft. Its ADNEC location is ideal for meetings.

Michelle Mannion

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 408, including 185 Aloft rooms, 80 Splash rooms, 105 Breezy rooms, five accessible rooms, 18 Sweet suites and 15 Breezy suites.
  • ROOM HIGHLIGHTS Plenty of work space, good connectivity and a great shower.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from Dhs 574 (£102) for an Aloft room.
  • CONTACT Aloft Abu Dhabi, ADNEC, Khaleej Al Arabi Street; tel +971 2654 5000; aloftabudhabi.com
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