CEO Middle East checks into the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi.
The plethora of luxury hotels in the Middle East often makes it difficult to distinguish between them all. While each will, of course, have their own unique selling point, CEO Middle East likes to initially judge how good a hotel is by its bedding and bathroom. Both are, after all, the reason you are staying in a hotel in the first place.
Five minutes into our evening's stay and so far, so good. Staff at the reception are welcoming and within minutes our bags are delivered to our room. But it's only now that the real judging begins. Plenty of miniature L'Occitane products, check. Monsoon shower, check. Ridiculously large bathtub, check.
Moving onto the bed where the sheets have an even higher thread count than diva Jennifer Lopez demands in her riders and the mattress is just the right side of firm. These points are only highlighted by the power nap, which quickly extends into four of the best hours sleep within minutes of arrival.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi is conveniently situated on the outskirts of the capital, a 10 minute drive from the National Exhibition Centre and the Abu Dhabi International Airport and is a short distance from the city centre, making it an ideal choice for business travellers.
Although the hotel is slightly further away from its competitors, the actual site - all 8.5 hectares - also includes a traditional style souk area with a number of restaurants and a small supermarket, as well as Traders Hotel, a newly opened four-star business hotel. The complex also includes 161 serviced apartments including studio and four-bedroom units for longer stays, as well as six four-bedroom villas. Guests can whiz around the entire complex via golf buggies or use the traditional abra-style boats to cruise the waterway that connects the souk.
But back to the room - one of 214 rooms available at the hotel. Here, like the rest of the hotel, the décor is modern Arabesque. Heavy furniture is juxtaposed to arched windows while luxurious textiles frame the patio-style windows and throws on the bed. The rooms are large, bright and lead to a wonderful sized balcony, either overlooking the swimming pool or the neatly kept gardens.Those that don't want to leave the room can be rest assured they can keep up with their work with the hotel's free broadband internet access and a range of television stations covering a number of languages.
Those that simply must carry on with work can also access their emails, as well as a number of services including photocopying, scanning services, translation, courier and typing at the hotel's dedicated Business Centre.
Outside of the rooms, the hotel has a number of leisure and dining facilities. It boasts five outdoor pools and a 1km beachfront setting with stunning views of the imposing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - one of the largest mosques in the world - across the water. Guests also have access to a fully equipped health club and yoga room, and if you have time in-between meetings, the hotel is also home to CHI, a spa specialising in ancient treatments from China and the Himalayas.
The hotel also has a number of restaurants to suit a wide variety of tastes. Choose from either the award winning Hoi An, a Vietnamese restaurant, Chinese-style cooking at Shang Palace or buffet-style at Sofra Bid. CEO Middle East highly recommends Bord Eau, a chic and modern French restaurant on the ground floor. This dining room concept restaurant employs some of the most attentive staff in the UAE and has food to match. While the menu might look slightly confusing at first - starters and mains are separated into four categories - it's worth taking your time to pour over the dishes, which change seasonally.
Attention to detail is what Bord Eau does best and don't be surprised if you discover the bread on your plate was actually flown in from France that very morning. While the chandeliers and white roses ensure Bord Eau is one of the hotel's more romantic spots to dine, that shouldn't stop you impressing clients with a spot of foie gras and a wagu steak with mashed potato and truffle oil.
Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi doesn't just pass the initial tests, it surpasses more. Perfectly combining its Asian routes with its local surroundings, the hotel is an ideal choice for both business and leisure travellers. The highlight, of course, being Bord Eau not the bathroom products.
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