A Week in the Gulf: QR J, EK J, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE
- Introduction, Planning, and Booking
- Qatar Airways JFK Check-in and British Airways Galleries Lounge Review
- Qatar Airways A350 Business Class JFK-DOH
- 24 Hours in Doha
- DOH oneworld Business Class Lounge and Qatar Airways Economy Class DOH-MCT
- Grand Hyatt Muscat Review
- MCT Priority Pass Lounge and Emirates Business Class MCT-DXB
- Aloft Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi Observation Deck at 300 and Cyacle Bikeshare
- Le Méridien Fairway Dubai
- Emirates Business Class Lounge, DXB Concourse A
- The Electronics Ban
- Emirates A380 Business Class DXB-JFK
The Aloft Abu Dhabi is located in the southeast “interior” of the city, near the diplomatic quarter and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and away from the waterfront on the city’s western edge, where a large portion of the city’s major chain hotels are located. As I mentioned in the introduction post to this trip report, I decided to review this hotel as it typically has the cheapest rates of all the SPG properties in the city. I booked a prepaid non-refundable rate for around $50 USD — granted, this was in the summer and during Ramadan. I was curious how this property compared to its competitors in the city, and whether this property’s location would be an inconvenience, as it’s a bit of a trek from the Aloft to where most of the city’s points of interest are located.
Of note, the public transportation infrastructure in Abu Dhabi is not as well-developed as in Dubai, so public transit/cabs aren’t great, and Uber (which previously operated in the city) is not currently an option. The local ride-sharing app Careem has come and gone over time due to various regulatory issues, and I’m not sure what the current status of Careem in Abu Dhabi is. While rental cars and gas are cheap, finding available parking spots can be an issue. And unlike much of the region, parking is not free in many parts of the city. A final note on transportation, cabs unfortunately only take cash and not credit/debit.
The Aloft is in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center complex, and I was easily able to find the property. As I pulled up in my rental car, I was greeted by a line of 5-6 cars in the driveway leading to the entrance of the building. The driveway is fairly small, and with people from each car either loading or unloading, it took about 15-20 minutes before I actually made it to the entrance.
Valet parking at the property is free, and I was quickly helped and given my valet ticket. While the entrance to the building housing the hotel is on the ground floor, the hotel itself starts on the second floor, and a separate set of elevators inside the lobby of the building leads to the Aloft.
LOBBY AND CHECK-IN
The lobby is bright and airy, with a circular check-in desk and plenty of room for seating.
There was no elite priority line, but I was helped after only a short wait. Check-in was quick and the agent was pleasant. I was proactively upgraded to a “Savvy Plus” room, though was not told this and didn’t realize it until I got to the room itself. While checking in, I found myself salivating over this ad for an Emirates NBD SPG credit card with a 50,000 Starpoint signup bonus. Now if only that were available in the US…
I was also given an SPG elite drink voucher to use at the WXYZ bar, which I thought was a nice touch.
SPG elite drink voucher
On my way to elevators, I passed the hotel’s WXYZ bar and Re:fuel restaurant, where the following sign was posted.
As eating and drinking in public places in the daytime during Ramadan are prohibited throughout the Middle East, it’s not uncommon for hotels with sizable non-Muslim guest populations to have accommodations for those guests. The most common way this is accomplished is with barriers blocking public eating places from the view of other public places (hallways, lobbies, etc.); in this way, anyone who eats at the restaurant during the daylight hours is technically doing it “in private.”
SAVVY PLUS ROOM
The room I was assigned was on the 8th floor, and was of a pretty good size, definitely comfortable for 1-2 people on a short stay. In typical Aloft style, the room was airy, bright, and (for lack of a better term) “trendy”-looking. In addition to the king bed, there was a desk and chair and a small lounge/living room area with a couch and coffee table. The view looking south and east towards the Al Muzoon district, Capital Gate, and the Exhibition Center complex wasn’t too shabby either.
The bathroom was well-lit and spacious, and the toilet and shower were in a separate “room” than the sink, which is always nice.
The hotel also had a wide selection of Ramadan-themed meals, the menus for which were on the desk in the room.
I headed upstairs in the evening to use my drink voucher at the hotel’s Twelve bar on the top floor of the property. There is both indoor seating and an outdoor terrace, but I opted for the inside given the sweltering summer heat.
The views of the city were quite nice, and service was good. Prices were pretty standard for alcohol in the Gulf. On this particular evening, the bar was fairly empty. As I was pretty tired from the day, I used my voucher on a whiskey and opted to call it a night after that.
The next morning, I stopped in for food at the hotel’s Re:fuel restaurant, since there aren’t many options to eat around the hotel and I wasn’t sure what was open given that it was Ramadan. In addition to quick grab-and-go items, there is also a standard a la carte menu.
I ordered the chicken biryani off the menu, of which I received a very generous serving. It was pretty average biryani, nothing great and nothing terrible. Not a bad deal for <$10 though. I grabbed a seat inside the adjacent WXYZ bar and caught up on some emails before checking out and hopping in the car for my drive back to Dubai.
All in all, the Aloft Abu Dhabi is a good hotel and offers a great value for the average rate. Despite being several years old, the property has a clean, new feel. Parking is free, elite recognition is good, and the rooms and amenities are solid. For under $100, you’d be hard pressed to do better at a major chain property in the city.
The only drawback of the Aloft, unfortunately, is the hotel’s location. I ended up either driving or having to get cabs to get anywhere in the city, and the overall cost of the room rate and transporation exceeded what I likely would have spent at one of the other chain properties in the more busy parts of the city. For those on a business trip or who aren’t bothered by the distance from the Aloft to Abu Dhabi’s points of interest, this is a great property.
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