When we first moved to Abu Dhabi we were confused by the vast array of hotels that were spread across the city! It is hard to tell online which area is best for different types of travellers, which hotels had the best facilities – it just seemed like a minefield for those unfamiliar with the city! In this guide we round up all our Abu Dhabi knowledge from our time living in the city to create the ultimate guide to where to stay in Abu Dhabi!
What we mean by on and off island Abu Dhabi?
When people, especially residents and locals, speak about Abu Dhabi you will often hear then refer to places as On Island and off Island! This is because Abu Dhabi is actually a series of islands but there is definitely a main one which people tend to refer to as being ‘on island’
In many ways, Abu Dhabi is an odd city in so far as it doesn’t have a formal city centre , yet by on island people tend to refer to the main business district and corniche area of the city (aka the waterfront)!
Off Island pretty much refers to everywhere else including but not limited to Saadiyat Island, Yas Island, Khalifa City, Al Reem and Al Maryah Islands and Sas Al Nakheel to name just a few which we will discuss in more detail later.
Firstly we will turn our attention to the on island Abu Dhabi hotels! These are situated along the Abu Dhabi Corniche!
Abu Dhabi Corniche Hotels
If you are travelling to Abu Dhabi for business and you will be in the on island area then this certainly is the best place to stay.
For business travellers we recommend staying at:
- St Regis Abu Dhabi
- Courtyard by Marriott at the World Trade Centre
However of you are travelling for something than business then the Corniche area might still be worth consider
Why Stay on the Abu Dhabi Corniche
The Abu Dhabi Corniche is definitely worth considering if you want to enjoy a mixture of both city and beach activities.
The Corniche has many family friendly amenities such as public beaches, playgrounds and gardens! The area also has lots of restaurants! If you are looking for a family friendly hotel along the Abu Dhabi Corniche area you should consider:
- Sheraton Abu Dhabi – this hotel has great amenities and pools for families traveling with young children!
- Jumeriah at Etihad Towers – also worth noting is that Jumeriah has the Observation Deck which is worth visiting whether or not you are staying at the hotel! This offers some of the best views in the entire city! Jumeriah at Etihad Towers also has a fantastic pool!
- Radisson Blu
However perhaps the most famous hotel in the Abu Dhabi Corniche area is the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel!
- Emirates Palace is the most renowned hotel in Abu Dhabi, and is famed for its gold cappuccino! This is definitely not the cheapest option but it sure to be a truly luxurious stay! This is defiantly a hotel for your bucket list!
You can check prices and book online here!
Another on island hotel with great facilities is the Beach Rotana! The pool is absolutely fantastic and has a separate kiddies pool and as an added bonus is attached to Abu Dhabi Mall!
There is also a residence to this hotel, which offer serviced apartments but please note you have to walk or get a golf cart along the main road to use the amenities of the hotel which can be slightly irritating!
The only other downside to this hotel for me is that the beach area does not look directly out onto the gulf but this is a small issue!
Abu Dhabi Attractions Near the Corniche:
- Etihad Towers Observation Deck
- Marina Mall
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi with kids
There is no one right place to stay in Abu Dhabi with kids in terms of area. But when I travel with kids I want to stay in a place that has amazing facilities! While the Corniche is one good area to stay with kids there are plenty of other options, namely Yas Island and Saadiyat Island. While both of these are a drive from the Corniche Area (Saadiyat 15 minutes and Yas Island 25 Minutes drive), the hotels in these areas have great amenities for the whole family and have close proximity to family friendly Abu Dhabi Attractions!
Best places to stay in Abu Dhabi on Yas Island
If you are willing to stay off island, then I would recommend Yas Island for families! Yas Island is full of theme parks, water parks and has its own beach which the hotel shares! For me this is definitely the easiest place to stay in Abu Dhabi with kids!
To be honest, all of the hotels on Yas Island are pretty good.
There is also a shuttle bus that operates from all of the main hotels going to Yas Waterworld and the Yas Mall! This is really convenient for travellers especially those not hiring a car during their stay in Abu Dhabi!
Centro is the cheapest hotel and does not have the extent of the amenities of the other hotels! But, it shares the facilities with Yas Rotana! Therefore if you want a more budget stay and are happy to walk between hotels the Centro hotel is definitely a great option!
Otherwise the neighbouring Yas Rotana is a great pick!
The other hotels on Yas which are worth considering are
If you have a bit more cash to splurge then I would definitely say you should consider Yas Hotel, previously known as the Viceroy! This hotel has amazing marina views and will be familiar to Formula One Lovers!
Attractions on Yas Island Abu Dhabi
- Yas Water World
- Warner Brothers World
- Ferrari World
- Yas Mall
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi for beach lovers
The one thing that surprised me when we moved to Abu Dhabi is how amazing the beaches are! Dubai can often overshadow Abu Dhabi, however in the competition of Abu Dhabi Vs Dubai for best beaches in my opinion the Abu Dhabi beaches are the best by far!
And the best area to stay if you want beaches in my opinion is Saadiyat island, Most famous for being home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is also home to some great hotels with incredible beach access!
There are a series of hotels along the beach front on Saadiyat Island and staying here guarantees access to the beach!
The best hotel resorts on Saadiyat Island are:
- St Regis SaadiyatThis resort is beautifully landscaped with several pools and rooms with amazing balconies that look onto the Gulf!
Saadiyat also is home to the first all inclusive hotel in Abu Dhabi! The recently opened Rixos Hotel offers all inclusive packages which can be a way of monitoring costs when travelling to Abu Dhabi which can be expensive!
If you decide not to stay on Saadiyat Island then I definitely recommend visiting the Saadiyat Beach Club on day pass to get the Saadiyat Island experience!
For a full list of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi click here!
Attractions on Saadiyat Island
- The Louvre Abu Dhabi
Most Unusual Place to Stay Abu Dhabi
If you are looking for something a bit different, and aren’t worried about splashing the cash then I would recommend looking at Zaya Nurai! This is a private island a short ten minute speedboat ride away from Saadiyat Island! This is as close to the Maldives as you can get without leaving the UAE! You can read about our experiences at Zaya Nurai here!
Best places to stay in Abu Dhabi with Mosque views
The most iconic site in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque! If you are short on time and this is the number one place you want to visit when in Abu Dhabi then I recommend staying at the Fairmont! This has amazing views across the water to the Mosque and looks particularly amazing at sunset!
Further Reading: Visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Another place in this area, which doesn’t have mosque views but has amazing green views is the Anantara at Eastern Mangroves! You won’t feel like you are in the desert with this mangrove adjacent property!
What I love about this area is that it really doesn’t feel urban despite being close to a highway and offers a lot of kayaking and mangrove activity!
Please note however that this property does not have a beach!
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- Souq Qaryat al Beri
Best places to stay in Abu Dhabi if you are looking for something different
Sometimes when I travel I like to find a property with a difference! There are a few of them in Abu Dhabi Emirate (rather than Abu Dhabi City)
Desert resorts in Abu Dhabi
When visiting the Middle East I think one of the must dos is visiting the desert. And while there are a number of excursions that will take you on a desert safari and dune bashing I think one of the best ways to experience the desert is by staying in one of the UAE’s famous desert resorts!
We stayed at the luxurious and family friendly Bab Al Shams! – you can read about our stay HERE! This is on the Abu Dhabi – Dubai Emirate border! It is easy to get to and doesn’t require 4×4 car to get there! Once you arrive they offer a range of activities such as camel riding, and falconry and offer a true Middle Eastern Desert Experience!
However if you would like something a bit more luxurious then there is one resort that you should visit:
This is perhaps the most luxurious of all the desert resorts in the UAE!
Where would you most like to stay? Or if you have been to Abu Dhabi tell us where you stayed and if you liked it!