Hilton Abu Dhabi Hotel – Abu Dhabi, UAE During our trip to Abu Dhabi, we stayed at two five star, international luxury hotel chains on two separate occasions—the Hilton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort. The Hilton Abu Dhabi is located on the Corniche Road, about 30 miles from the airport. This luxury hotel was one of the first to be built in Abu Dhabi, and it shows—any sign of glamour and luster that it may have had in the past seemed to be nonexistent now especially when compared to the ultra-lavish and opulent five star hotels that the Middle East is notoriously known for. Perhaps its best attraction is its waterfront location.
First Impression/Lobby: The lobby was less than impressive; it did not make me feel like I was in a luxury hotel. Rather, I felt like I was in some government institution where the décor was a mere second-thought with boring columns, not-so-grand staircase, lifeless plants, and poor lighting. It was all a bit bland to the point of pitiful.
Reception: Fortunately, the reception was quick and easy. But this was probably the case because we arrived at about midnight and we were the only guests checking in. It took just a matter of minutes before we were on our way to our room. Regardless, they were helpful and welcoming.
The Room: The room was small and had two small windows, which, if your neighbors were looking out theirs, they could see into yours. For the sake of privacy you had to keep your curtains closed. Then again, even when open, there was not much of a view.
The furnishing was also dull with mostly brown leather and brown fabrics and little splashes of colors and accents here and there. The room was showing signs of its age—the walls were dirty and the wallpaper was beginning to peel off. At least, the bed was signature Hilton with its luxurious linens and impossibly comfortable padding.
The nightmare did not seem to end though, as the bathroom was ghastly and outdated with just one basin sink and a shower/tub combo.
Room Service: Room service was timely and efficient, but it was a poor consolation for the below average food. How anyone can ruin a club sandwich I’ll never understand. To top it off, it was poorly prepared and looked unappealing.
Housekeeping: Surprisingly, the housekeeping exceeded my expectations (at that point in my miserable stay at the Hilton Abu Dhabi). It was exactly how it should be at a luxury hotel—invisible, impeccable and complete.
Concierge: Concierge service gave us a good recommendation for sushi but failed to inform us that the hotel taxi was twice the price of a local taxi. It cost 70 AED ($21.00) to go to the restaurant, but when we took the local taxi back to the hotel it was only 32 AED ($9.00).
Restaurant: There are almost a dozen restaurants at the Hilton Abu Dhabi. We got to try one of Abu Dhabi’s award-winning restaurants, Vasco’s—a Mediterranean restaurant that was less than spectacular but had a fantastic view of the Arabian Gulf. Other dining options included an Italian restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a Latin American grill and bistro, and a Viennese coffee shop.
Pool/Spa/Activities: After a long list of disappointments, my biggest complaint with the Hilton Abu Dhabi was the pool area, which was located across the road from the hotel, and took about 5-10 minutes to walk. From the hotel’s website the pool looked spectacular, the perfect place to spend an afternoon and drink champagne until dusk, but as I found out, this was far from reality. I was completely deceived.
The Hilton had two pools, one for adults and one for families and children. Both pools were overfull, and we were lucky to find two empty chairs that we even had to pull together. The adult pool was teeming with children. When we asked the lifeguard why they let children in the adult pool, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know, that’s how it always is.”
Part of the problem is that they open the pool to members of the local health club so apparently it is always too busy on the weekends.
Overall Impression The Hilton Abu Dhabi was a colossal disappointment. From the weathered and worn rooms with no view to the over-crowded pool to the lack luster room service and unappealing room service food, the Hilton Abu Dhabi gets a rating of Not Bombastic. If you are headed to Abu Dhabi and want a luxury hotel, check out the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort instead, it’s a much better choice than the Hilton.