Venice may be more than 5000km away from Abu Dhabi, but a slice of the famous Italian city has landed in the UAE capital. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is styled on the glorious city of bridges and as we pulled into the drive we couldn’t help feeling we had been transported to Europe. Then, when a valet in traditional Venetian dress opened the door for us, well, we expected Daniel Craig to run around the corner like in Casino Royale. He didn’t, but we were gobsmacked anyway – by the lobby. From the floor, which is made of rare green marble imported from Italy, to the ceiling, from which hang three chandeliers each containing Murano glass 7000 crystals, it’s simply stunning. There was even a gorgeous Katherine Jenkins-style opera singer performing to welcome us!
Room with a View
Okay so there’s no Rialto Bridge, gondolas or Grand Canal, but our balcony did overlook the 57-metre-long pool which is illuminated by 300 lights in the evening. Inside the room is all you would expect from a five star hotel, but it had some extra touches inlcuding delcious home-cooked macaroons, yum! The bathroom could easily pass for a small apartment too! Top tip, it’s worth splashing out for The Club Level lounge it caters for the luxury traveller’s every whim and is added value.
The hotel’s restaurant Giornotte is home to it’s iftars. And while it’s based on the design of an Italian villa, it has been transformed into a contemporary Arabian retreat with the option of indoor and covered outdoor seating, including several intimate majlis areas.
Come the evening things go up a notch, the signature restaurants were designed by super cool interior firm Super Potato who have created celeb-fave hotspots including Zuma in London, and there’s plenty to choose from without even leaving the hotel. We opted for the lively Asian restaurant Li Jiang where the portions are huge. You could even spot the chef making noodles in the glass kitchen!
Later we popped into coffee and gelato shop, Dolce, which makes all its own ice cream and has a nice atmosphere with arty books scattered around for you to read. They’ve even put lots of thought into the pool-side snacks if you’d rather dine more casually of a evening. Instead of soggy chips, you can order a bento box which contains a variety of tasty morsels with themes including American and Mexican.
Also check out The Forge steakhouse, which offers you a choice of knives to use! You can also visit the Alba lounge, where the waitresses wear dresses inspired by Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid frock! Seven more restaurants are on their way and the hotel also has a lively bar, Sorso.
The hotel is influenced by 15th to early 17th century Renaissance architecture and the colours of the outside were selected to imitate the characteristic Venetian wash. A floral motif used in Venetian carnival masks adorns the property’s elevators and floor, as well as the guest room doors and linen. Plus, even the design on the bottom of the pool was inspired by a piece of fabric the hotel’s owner saw in Italy! The hotel is not a copy of Venice like what you might find at The Venetian in Las Vegas, but it has a real Italian feel. The hotel shipped in 23 olive trees, some aged 180-years-old, from Spain to create that perfect Italian look in the gardens!
The hotel, which was unveiled in March is just a ten minute walk from one of the UAE’s must-see sights, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Catch tours Sunday to Thursday 10am, 11am and 5pm.
Team Ahlan! have visited some pretty amazing hotels, but with its gorgeous design and top notch service, this is one of our faves! Belissimo!
• Deluxe Room from Dhs1250, Dhs 750 in the summer,
• Club Room from Dhs1600, Dhs 000 in the summer
• The Intrigue You summer package offers a third night free from Dhs1,020.|
• The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta’a, Abu Dhabi, 02 818 8888, www.ritzcarlton.com/abudhabi.