“Capital of the UAE (and the world’s richest), Abu Dhabi is lush, green and distinctly cosmopolitan; a place where – similarly to Dubai – you can find the very best of pretty much everything.

Epic attractions, thrilling theme parks, spectacular hotels, vast shopping malls, incredible cuisine and an action-packed calendar of events and festivals covering the world of sports, music, art, food, heritage and culture.

Its architectural wonders are simply astounding: the Arabian splendour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; W Abu Dhabi on Yas Island – the only hotel to straddle an F1 racetrack; the striking dunes of the UAE Pavilion; and Capital Gate – the world’s farthest-leaning man-made tower. But for me it’s the overwhelming beauty and the chance to experience a more authentic side of Arabia that really sets Abu Dhabi apart from Dubai. 

​Due to time constraints, I split my time between downtown and, to its east, Saadiyat Island – though families may prefer basing themselves closer to all the unforgettable entertainment on Yas Island.

Somewhat reminiscent of a British seaside promenade, The Corniche stretches across almost five miles of manicured waterfront downtown and makes for a really nice walk with lots of great cafés and restaurants to sit, watch the world go by and sample some local specialities. Or, if you fancy something a bit more strenuous, there’s a cycle track which takes about an hour from start to finish. 

A real highlight for me in this part of Abu Dhabi was Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I absolutely love ancient history and this stunning piece of architecture really does take you back to a forgotten era.

For the first part of my trip, I stayed downtown at The EDITION (a great option for a stopover) and unlike anything else here.

It's the first Middle East 'EDITION' and a vibrant, ultra-modern hotel set right on the waterfront of lively Al Bateen Marina. Foodies in particular will love it here, as British Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens is behind all three of its restaurants. 

I particularly enjoyed the food, live-cooking stations and chilled-out atmosphere of Market (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and heaven if you're into healthy eating). But my highlight was the Rose Brunch which is held at the Alba Terrace every Friday: its three-course celebration of Italian delicacies with a cool live band accompaniment is an absolute must (do make sure you leave room for dessert)!

7 nights from £1025 per person

​The second half of my stay was on Saadiyat Island (less than 10 minutes from downtown and 20 from the airport).

Developed with conservation firmly in mind, this is the cultural quarter of Abu Dhabi, with a side order of some seriously luxurious living. If all you want is to unwind and relax then this is the place to be. Stunning aquamarine waves lap gently onto soft white sands. Indo-Pacific humpback and bottlenose dolphins can often be seen playing offshore. And indigenous Hawskbill sea turtles come here each and every spring to nest and breed. It’s also home to Louvre Abu Dhabi (the world’s only other outpost of the iconic Parisian gallery) and there are plans to add a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim here within the next few years too. 

My 'Happiness Island' home was Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort, its prime beachfront location making it perfect for longer, more laid-back stays.

In keeping with the surrounds, it's one of the region's first resorts to ban single-use plastics, so you're presented on arrival with a refillable water bottle which can be replenished with still or sparkling water at the resort's numerous water stations (they're a great reminder of your stay once you're back home, too). You'll also find an excellent array of accommodation options for couples and families alike: the pool villas being my personal favourite... super-private yet with full access to all the resort facilities (of which there are many). My highlights? Dining at TEAN: it's fab whether you want something light or a full-on feast, as there are lots of Arabic dishes to choose from. Oh and the private beach. That's what I'll remember the most. So much space, super-soft sands and a front-row seat to Saadiyat's sublime sunsets."

7 nights from £995 per person

Find Out More...

  • The Abu Dhabi EDITION Downtown

    Downtown, on the waterfront of Al Bateen in the Abu Dhabi Marina, the latest Edition showcases a refreshing mix of the finest services, amenities, dining and nightlife to full effect, all topped-off with a personal, intimate, individualised experience.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort Saadiyat Island

    Jumeirah’s first eco-conscious, single-use-plastic-free, earthy-yet-luxurious beachfront resort offers a front-row seat to 400 metres of sweeping white Arabian Gulf sands, beautiful scenery and undisturbed wildlife.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property

Request a call back

Or get in touch 01244 567000