Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi
by Laura Gelder | December 2016
"Abu Dhabi is home to a raft of opulent and impressive hotels (even your cappuccino comes flecked with gold at the Emirates Palace), but Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri manages to hit the gold standard without being too gaudy. Its most regal aspect is the view from the pool, looking across the water to the shimmering minarets of the city's famous Grand Mosque. This, and the design of the hotel itself, with its symmetrical decor, detailed fretwork and arched windows, gives it a sense of place in a destination where you can often forget that you're in Arabia."
THE BACKGROUND: The Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri is part of a complex which also includes the four-star-plus Shangri-La Traders Hotel and a souk with some fifteen restaurants. Connecting all three is a canal which is used to transport passengers via a traditional abra boat - free of charge of course!
THE LOCATION: Approximately a 10-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport, five minutes from the golf course and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and 15 minutes from the Corniche and city centre.
THE ROOM: My Horizon Club Deluxe Room had a generous balcony with the afore-mentioned dramatic aspect. The bed was huge and the Middle Eastern styled bathroom has a marble bath as well as a walk-in rain shower, both lined with L'Occitane products. Amenities include a television, mini bar, iPod docking station and walk-in wardrobe. The staff were incredibly attentive to my fruit bowl and all other housekeeping matters. Horizon Club rooms have access to the Horizon Club Lounge as well as a personalised concierge service and 24-hour butler service.The decor is neutral and subtle.
There are a whole host of rooms categories on offer as well as some beachside villas with private infinity pools.
RESTAURANTS/BARS: The main restaurant, Sofra, serves buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the latter taking a different theme each night and including local specialities and grills. Friday brunch in Sofra sees the already sumptuous buffet go into overdrive by combining every type of cuisine imaginable, a dessert station straight out of a Disney film, a candy floss machine, clowns and a singer – at least when I was there!
I dined on fragrant sea bass on the tranquil paper lantern-lit terrace at Vietnamese restaurant Hoi An and indulged in rich and sticky Chinese dishes at Cantonese restaurant Shang Palace, where the tea pourer entertained with some impressive acrobatics. Other options include traditional French fine dining restaurant Bord Eau and the waterfront Pearls and Caviar, which serves regional Spanish dishes designed by celebrity and Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola.
The new open-air P&C Bar sits above the restaurant and offers live DJ sets and cocktails with a slick, ultra-modern decor. This had only just opened so the atmospheric poolside bar seemed most popular for drinks during my stay. There is also a cigar lounge inside.
FACILITIES: No one seemed to use the beautifully-manicured beach but it’s there for guests who want it, along with the beautiful lap pool. CHI, The Spa is a well-known Shangri-La brand which offers a range of therapies and treatments from different Asian cultures. An Arabian date body wrap and Arabic coffee scrub are two local-inspired treatments on offer in Abu Dhabi. There are two gyms on site (mixed and female-only), a yoga room, juice bar, beauty and hair salon and the CHI boutique. There is also a range of fitness classes available to take, ranging from Zumba to Pilates.
THE RATES: The lead-in Deluxe room starts at 550AED (£118) and the Horizon Deluxe at 750AED (£162).
THE DETAILS: W: shangri-la.com; T: +971 (2) 509 8888