Review of St Regis, Abu Dhabi (Corniche)
Where: St Regis Hotel, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi. By car, the hotel is 15 minutes from the Tourist Club area (downtown Abu Dhabi); 5 minutes from the Emirates Palace and 35 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport. The hotel is directly connected to Nation Galleria (a luxury shopping and dining destination). It has a plush underpass that connects the hotel to a private beach club and other dinning destinations.
Hotel credentials: The hotel opened in 2013. It has 283 rooms. The hotel offers 9 restaurants/bars, beauty salons, a spa, fitness suites, an outdoor swimming pool and a beach club (with kids club).
When: December 2016
Purpose of trip: Business
First impressions : I arrived at the hotel by car and valet parked. My bags were unloaded by a cheerful valet attendant. The hotel lobby is impressive. I visited the hotel in December when the lobby was dominated by a massive Christmas tree that created a warm and festive environment. The hotel lobby is flanked by two red and cream carpet clad staircases. Thick lush carpets make this hotel feel like an over-sized mansion. The hotel reception is a discrete affair. It is tucked away in a corner to the left of the hotel entrance. Staff were welcoming and check-in was swift. I was given a booklet containing information on the hotel’s dining options and informed of the hotel facilities. I was in my room with my luggage within 15 minutes of arriving at the hotel.
Room type & amenities: I stayed in a superior seafront room which was approximately 47sqm with a king sized bed. There was complimentary fresh fruit in the room. The room had a kettle and the usual instant coffee options – unfortunately no Nespresso machine – I sought my caffeine injection elsewhere. The mini bar was stocked with the usual snacks and drinks available on a chargeable basis. The room was equipped with a hairdryer, iron, ironing board and ample wardrobe space. There was a small desk (and I mean small) and chair in the room with all the necessary portals and sockets. The view from the room was truly spectacular. Working at a desk with a view over the Corniche and the Arabian Gulf was a major bonus. I had fantastic view of the hotel’s beach club on the opposite side of the Corniche. The bathroom was tastefully fitted-out in grey marble. It had a free-standing bath, double sink and separate shower. The bathroom was stocked with slippers, a bathrobe and decent sized toiletries. The bathroom mirror was fitted with a flat screen television – a great way to catch up on morning news.
Wifi: Complimentary and available throughout the hotel.
Business: The room is equipped with a small desk with all the necessary portals/plugs points. The hotel has an impressive business centre and meeting rooms.
Slumber: Comfortable mattress (medium/hard). Good quality bed linen. The room was on the 38th floor near to the elevators. Apart from the faint ring of the elevators which did not bother me too much, the room was quiet. If you are a light sleeper ask for a room further from the elevators.
Dinning options: The hotel has 9 dining options:
Crystal Lounge/Tea Lounge: This is essentially the hotel’s lobby lounge. It is located on the mezzanine level overlooking the dual staircase and lobby. It serves premium champagne and afternoon tea (the latter priced at AED160 (plus 16% fees) or AED220 (plus 16% fees) for the champagne afternoon tea). It's a nice place to catch up on emails, enjoy a quiet drink or host an informal business meeting. The seating is generously spaced to maximise privacy.
Azura Panoramic Lounge : Casual open-air (shisha) bar severing snacks and more substantial fayre from an eclectic menu. Azura has panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi Corniche. If you happen to visit Abu Dhabi on National Day (2 December) this is one of the best vantage points to watch the city's fireworks.
Villa Toscana: Seriously good Italian restaurant. I had dinner here and would highly recommend it. It is an excellent choice for business diners, dining alone or with friends. The combination of soft lighting and dark mahogany wood make for an inviting and intimate restaurant. The tables are generously spaced which guarantees a high degree of privacy. The restaurant has private dining room and a large outdoor terrace with a view of Abu Dhabi Corniche.
The chef and restaurant manager spent a lot of time (non-obtrusively) circulating among diners checking that all was well – a nice touch. The waiting staff were immaculately turned out and had detailed knowledge of the menu. The restaurant was filled with a mix of well-dressed businesswomen, pin-striped clad businessmen (almost all wearing the same Hermes tie) and Italian speaking couples.
I had the sizzling chilli prawns to start. Just as described they came absolutely sizzling hot and packed full of flavour. However, they did not have the kick that I was expecting. For main course, my guest and I shared the Fiorentina steak which came with roasted vegetables and pulses. It was one of the best steaks I have had in the UAE. The meat was very tender and flavoursome. I would order it again in a heartbeat – my only warning is that it was quiet a lot of food even for two people. When I left the restaurant I was given a little scroll which contained the chef's recipe for fool-proof pizza.
St Regis Bar:A trio of rooms comprise this old-fashioned New York style bar complete with cigar lounge.
Cabana Beach Bar & Grill: This beachfront restaurant enjoys views of the Arabian Gulf and Marina breakwater area. It has a good selection of burgers, salads, sandwiches and drinks. It’s a great informal setting to chill out and watch the sun set.
The Terrace on the Corniche: A contemporary all day dining restaurant with an outdoor terrace and flooded in natural light. It hosts the hotel's main brunch every Friday.
Brunch in the Sky: On the last Friday of each month an exclusive brunch is served for a maximum of 50 people in the Abu Dhabi Suite. The Abu Dhabi Suite is the hotel's presidential/royal suite extending to 1,120sqm. It's suspended between the hotel and the adjoining tower on the 48th and 49th floors. It has a private spa, cinema and kitchen and is accessible by its own private elevator. Prices start from AED500 (plus 16% fees) for brunch.
Alternative dining tips : The hotel is directly connected to the Nation Galleria mall – a boutique luxury mall home to dining options including Café Bateel, Leopolds of London, Godiva Cafe and Burger Joint. If you don't want to have breakfast in the hotel I highly recommend either Leopolds or Café Bateel (both have terraces with fabulous views of the Corniche). There is also an organic supermarket in the mall should you need over-priced essentials or organic food and drink during your stay. Please see the below section for other restaurants at the hotel’s beach club (Nation Riveria).
Breakfast : Breakfast is served in The Terrace on the Corniche. Breakfast included a choice of pastries, eggs, fruit, cereal, bread, hot/cold cuts. There was an egg menu on the table. I ordered eggs Florentine. It took 10 minutes to arrive. The eggs were perfectly cooked (bright orange yolks) and served on an English muffin. I ordered a cappuccino – it was luke warm when it arrived. When I informed the waiter he seemed genuinely concerned and immediately offered a replacement. In addition to the eggs, the other star of the breakfast show was the Greek yogurt topped with crunchy maple granola.
Fitness suite: The hotel has a large fitness suite with a mixed gym and a female only gym. It's an attractive place to work out with a good set of equipment. Staff were friendly and helpful. It is located on the same level as the swimming pool.
Chop my locks & sort my knots : The hotel has a Spa (Remede Spa) and separate ladies and gents hair salons. I did not use the Spa but I did have a look around it. The Spa interior is cream, serine and screams relaxed luxury which made it hard to resist booking a massage in one of the 11 treatment rooms. The Spa menu looked so heavenly that it seemed like hell not to try at least one treatment…maybe next time.
Swimming pool: The hotel has an outdoor temperature controlled pool located next to Azura Lounge. In my view it is not the prettiest place to sunbathe - the beach club was my preferred option.
Beach club : Nation Riveria Beach Club is the hotel’s beach club. And what a beach club it is! Firstly, lets talk about access to the beach club. It's located on the opposite side of the Corniche to the hotel. To access the beach club you need to take the elevator to the hotel Spa level then go outside, walk past Azura Lounge (which will be on your right hand side) and head towards a grey door with a restroom male/female sign on it. Open that door and take the elevator down to the access the underpass (which incidentally is the most luxurious underpass I have ever seen), walk along the underpass and then the elevator back up to street level. Unless you know exactly where you are going there are no signs at the Azura Lounge level to indicate how to access Nation Riviera.
The beach club is stunning. It has a swimming pool with swim-up bar and large jacuzzi - the perfect place to chill out or enjoy some upbeat tunes. There is direct access to a 200 metre private beach where you can relax or indulge in some water sports. There is an indoor fitness suite and wet room inside the beach club.
Kids club: The beach club has an impressive kids pool and its own kids club (in the shape of a pirate ship) for ages 4 to 12 years.
Nation Galleria: I mentioned Nation Galleria above for some alternative dinning options. The mall also has a multi-screen Vox cinema, nail spa, large kids play centre, stationary centre (great place if you need business essentials) and…wait for it…a Lamborghini store!
Check out: Check out was swift and my butler placed my luggage in my car so very little waiting time. Although the room came with the benefit of my own private butler the only time I used the service was when I checked out.
HSQ’s view : In my opinion the St Regis, Abu Dhabi is the ultimate all-rounder when it comes to business luxury. The hotel’s event space make it an excellent option for hosting private events or dinner parties. I would definitely recommend this hotel for business or leisure. It is also a great escape for families looking for child friendly luxury. The combination of business facilities, connectivity, location, luxury and leisure offerings give this hotel a Usain Bolt type lead over its competitors.