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Upon arrival to any hotel, there are two things that always gravitate one’s attention: the lobby entrance and the smell. In the case of the latest St. Regis hotel branch, a distinct scent of heavy handed local musk and oud fills the entire entrance - a sign of local opulence that converges beautifully with interior design.
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The entrance, with its crystal chandeliers and diamond-like accents are a tribute to Mrs. Astor, mother of The St. Regis Founder John Jacob Astor, who had a great love of fine jewellery.
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No reception counters or office furniture are in sight as you walk through the front gates, instead a set of mirrored stairways sit grandly on each side of the room, replicating the entrance of a private mansion.
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Every nook and cranny has been attended to with design details and thoughtful elements. One might say that the interior design is slightly overdone, but the fact that it relies entirely on a neutral colour palette makes all the varied textures intriguing rather than off putting.
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Greeting desks are tucked on the side and the check-in was quick and efficient. The only downfall to our first impression of was finding our way there. There were no road sign, directions or building signage communicating its location, which would prove to be quite the nuisance for anyone unfamiliar with the city or visiting from abroad.
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Once in the room, we were greeted by our own butler. The St. Regis butler service has been a signature of the hotel’s experience throughout all its branches. Coffee and tea was arranged and served in the room, bags were unpacked and curtains were drawn. It was all quite pleasant, especially if you have an immediate meeting to run to or a tight schedule during your stay.
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You get a sense that the room was built for efficiency rather than leisure. The view was breathtaking, but there was no terrace to enjoy it. The seats where all upright, no invitation for lounging was in sight, and a sobering effect ran through the entire space.
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Highlights of the hotel include the St. Regis cigar lounge and this branch’s very unique tea ritual. This is straight out of New York. The space transports you to the big city’s rugged interiors, with towering bookshelves and patterned parquet flooring. The solid oak walls and heavy brown furniture cater more to a masculine sense, specifically when the pungent smell of cigars and spirits fill the room in the evening time.
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To balance their offering and cater to a feminine appeal, St. Regis Abu Dhabi branch offers an exquisite high tea ritual that perfect for business meetings and socials occasions. The tea Sommelier pulled out a bronze cart of the rarest and most exquisitely fused teas, with blends that enhance their aroma, such as dried rose and lavender leaves.
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But the biggest draw of the hotel is likely to be their in house spa, which is a destination of its own. The 3,200 square metre lush space encompasses everything that you would require to transform your day. Eleven treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, gym, multiple vanity areas, relation rooms, an enormous Jacuzzi, and even a beauty salon.
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Overall, the St. Regis Abu Dhabi successfully caters to both male and female sensibilities and can be the ideal place for hosting business travellers and holding corporate meetings. Its emphasis on efficiency is complemented with a tasteful amount of luxury and glamour and its heritage is clearly translated throughout its walls.