Escape the city
Virtuozityheads to the UAE’s capital to sample peace and tranquility right in the heart of the city at the stunning Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri
One of the unique things about the city of Abu Dhabi is that you always seem to be surrounded by water. Whichever way you turn you seem to be by a body of water of some sort. So, just when you think you’ve managed to get orientated, you get completely thrown again. This is all of course caused by Abu Dhabi’s many waterways and inlets that criss-cross the main island.
One side effect of this stunning geography is that there’s a lot of available beachfront, something the hotel industry has been quick to discover. One of the best located waterfront properties is the Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri. Conveniently located in-between the Maqta and Musaffah bridges, it’s close enough you could almost skim a stone across the 250 metres of perfectly flat water of the Khor Al Maqta to the main Abu Dhabi island.
The hotel itself certainly has the Shangri-La design stamp on it. Anyone who’s stayed at their previous properties will feel right at home from the moment they enter the lobby through to the sumptuous rooms.
Each of the 213 rooms has been designed to reflect the Arabic heritage of the region. Bright colour schemes and arched doorways abound, as well as small touches in tucked away corners to be discovered at your leisure.
Rooms range in size from a very generous ‘Deluxe’ room, through a series of suites and views, right up to the Presidential Suite. There’s also a collection of 600 sqm family villas and the very grand Samar Celebration villa, which is perfect for anyone who likes to entertain in style. The four-bedroom family villas each come with a private pool and personalised butler service, for that little extra pampering.
The main pool is dominated by the infinity view over the waterway, straight to the Grand Mosque. Quite a nice spot for a bit of r’n’r, especially whilst the kids paddle in the small kids pool off to the right. There’s a pool bar for refreshments, as well as a terrace of shisha and snacks. Basically, everything you need for a lazy day in the sun.
On either side there’s a private beach with plenty of sun loungers for guests to use. You can also take a swim there as well, although the pool is the best option for convenience and access to all the amenities.
Dining is well covered with contemporary French restaurant, Bord Eau, while Hoi An serves modern and traditional Vietnamese food, Chinese fine dining at Shang Palace and Sofra BLD, which covers a fusion of Arabic and Asian cuisine, and serves as the main breakfast area each morning.
The only oddity at the hotel is the lack of a good nightspot. Apart from the pool bar, the only real place for evening drinks is the Al Hanah bar that forms part of the lobby. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, in fact the décor is quite fabulous. But whilst the service there is excellent, for such a large hotel you’d expect a wider selection of places to whet your whistle late into the evening.
For the health conscious there’s a health club offering exactly what you’d expect at this level of hotel, but there’s also the opportunity to indulge in a range of relaxing spa sessions at CHI, The Spa. The treatments are allegedly based on ancient healing philosophies, so perfect for some serious pampering.
If that’s not enough, the hotel is joined to The Souq, a small shopping complex, built around the old Arabic souq style. Guests can be serenely whisked between the hotel and shops via a series of waterways on a faux-traditional Abra boat, albeit with an electric motor. It’s a little Disneyland, but it’s very popular with tourists and especially kids, so worth the ride.
The souq itself is nicely stocked with small boutiques and restaurants, so should be on the list of things to do when staying at the hotel. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the hotel’s comfortable sun loungers, of course.
The main focus of the Shangri-La is to allow guests to simply relax and enjoy some downtime, away from the hustle and bustle of the city only a stone’s throw away. It’s a perfect oasis of calm neatly living side by side with the high-speed pace of modernity.
With beautifully furnished rooms, an array of delectable restaurants and ample ways to induce a sense of deep relaxation (right down to a stretch of private beach with views of Abu Dhabi’s famous Grand Mosque) the Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri is a real delight for lovers of all things luxury.
Who’d have thought Shangri-La was to be found in Al Maqta, just by the Musaffah Bridge?