Al Ain, once known as the ‘Oasis City’, is famed for its forts and being home to highest peak in Abu Dhabi, Jebel Hafeet. Al Ain also boasts giraffes at the famed Al Ain zoo (the nighttime zoo experience is a must) and Wadi Adventure offers white-water rafting, kayaking and surfing. The five-star Rotana was our base while checking out this unexpectedly fun UAE city. Here’s a peek inside.
Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger
The Pool, Gym & Spa
The low-rise Rotana boasts a stunning swimming pool with a swim-up bar offering an array of mocktails and plenty of comfortable sun loungers for you to top-up your tan. Visit for their monthly poola-palooza parties that offer a chilled-out atmosphere where guests can enjoy food and drinks while swaying along to the electric beats of DJ Freddie. For the more active, the Rotana’s Bodylines Leisure and Fitness Club is the place to hit, with its fully equipped gym that offers celeb fave, the Power Plate to its squash courts. All of that, however, was a little too energetic for us, so we opted for a relaxing massage in the luxurious Zen spa to revitalise our bodies, followed by a dip in the Jacuzzi and a quick cook in the sauna. We’ve been taking pampering hints from the A-list!
The Bars & Restaurants
There are three venues to choose from – here’s what to expect:
Zest is a healthy all-day eatery that offers buffet and à la carte meals from 6.30am until 10.30am. It also has a delicious Friday bubbles brunch at a bargain cost of Dhs149. We were well looked-after – they really made us feel like celebs.
At night, take trip to Polynesia with dinner at the world-renowned Trader Vic’s, which has welcomed the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger. During our taste of the exotic, we enjoyed delectable Vietnamese spring rolls, signature seafood noodles and, for dessert, a sweet coconut mash, washed down with signature Mai-Tai cocktails – the Tiki Puka Puka is legendary for a good reason!
We ended our lovely evening by enjoying a bit of a shimmy at the Rotana’s in-house nightclub, Moodz. The dark but elegant lounge is popular with expats, and has a resident DJ spinning the latest tunes until 3am. Friday night is ladies’ night and Wednesday night is ‘Traffic Light Night’, during which guests can wear a colour-coded wristband to hint to at their marital status to everyone else on the dance floor!
The Rotana offers 198 fairly spacious chalets, suites and villas, with an Art Deco feel and neutral hues. Cosy armchairs and very large, snug beds give a homely vibe. We opted for the premium twin room with a picturesque pool and stunning view of Jebel Hafeet mountain (a great vista to watch the sunset against, while relaxing with a sundowner or two on the big balcony). All rooms are air-conditioned, equipped with LCD TV screens and multi-channel satellite TV with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. And, of course, no room would be complete with the mini-bar packed full of Haribo!
Room rate per night: From Dhs500 for a classic twin room to Dhs1,558 for a two-bed villa
One-hour massage at The Spa: From Dhs180
Two-hour signature spa treatment: Dhs395
Gym membership: From Dhs300 per person for visitors, and free for hotel guests
Daily pool pass: Dhs149 per person; free for children under 12
INFO: Al Ain Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Ain, 03 754 5111, www.rotana.com; Al Ain Zoo, adults Dhs15, children three-12 years Dhs5, under-threes free, 4pm-10pm Thu-Sat, 03 782 8188, www.awpr.ae; Wadi Adventure, rates depend on activity, 9am-9pm Fri-Sat and 10am-8pm Sun and Tue-Thu, 03 781 8422, www.wadiadventure.ae
Friday brunch (12.30pm to 3.30pm): Dhs149 per person, including bubbles