Lying resplendent on the shores of the Grand Canal in Abu Dhabi, the Ritz-Carlton offers a lavish escape for those seeking opulence and relaxation.
From the outside, the Ritz-Carlton isn’t much to look at, but as soon as you pass through the glass doors into the lobby you’re met by a magnificent and somewhat imposing tall entrance hall in the best tradition of the quintessential grand hotel. This is also when you get the first taste of Ritz-Carlton’s signature levels of service with refreshments offered during a very quick check-in process.
The hotel has 447 guestrooms and suites, 85 private 1- and 2-bedroom villas, and five 3-bedroom villas. The whole complex is inspired by the 15th to early 17th century Renaissance and the city of Venice, but not in a quiche or over-the-top way. It’s all very understated and calm in terms of colours and design flourishes.
There are 8 hotel restaurants, including 3 signature restaurants – Lebanese, Asian, and Steakhouse, along with 2,182 square meters (23,484 square feet) of flexible meeting space, including a magnificent 1,550-square meter (16,685 square foot) ballroom for those looking for a location for events.
The main hotel buildings wrap around the large pool area in a crescent shape, with the much more private and quieter adult’s pool on the northern side. It’s a bit of a hike, but there are always golf carts available to whisk you to and fro.
HOTEL AND FACILITIES
Upon arrival, the grandeur of the Ritz-Carlton is undeniable. The architecture is elegance, with towering structures and manicured gardens and all the restaurants, cafes and other public spaces fairly easy to find. However, we did find the layout somewhat confusing.
Navigating the expansive property looking for a particular area took several attempts, and finding the health club proved to be a bit of a challenge. Clearer signage and directions would greatly enhance the guest experience. Nonetheless, the hotel offers a beautiful private beach, a refreshing pool area, and various lounges to unwind in.
Our room was undeniably well-appointed, exuding sophistication with tasteful décor and furnishings. The walk-in rainfall shower is the size of a small apartment and the huge bath sits beneath shutters that can be easily opened or closed for privacy.
However, we did find the room’s design to be slightly awkward. One quirk that stood out was the placement of the kettle. To boil water for our morning tea or coffee, we had to place the kettle on the floor, which felt impractical and somewhat unconventional for a hotel of this caliber.
Nevertheless, the room’s comfort, plush bedding, and stunning views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosquecompensated for this minor inconvenience.
Dining at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi was a delightful experience overall. At Alba, the charming cafe off the lobby, we were pleasantly surprised when they greeted us with complimentary cookies—a thoughtful touch. The lemon granola cake from the dessert menu was unexpectedly lovely, offering a burst of citrusy sweetness that was both refreshing and indulgent.
Our dining experience at Li Jiang, the hotel’s Asian restaurant, was almost equally excellent, apart from a slightly tough beef satay, and a Chow Mein could have benefited from a more generous portion of meat. However, the ambiance was enchanting, the Pad Thai was a revelation—flavorsome, perfectly balanced, and exceptional in every way, and the service was attentive and genuine.
It really was a highlight of the whole experience. The manager went above and beyond to ensure our comfort, and our waiter, Sammy, was a true professional. Notably, they noticed us enjoying a cigarette at the bar area and even brought our starter to us there—a level of personalized service that left a lasting impression.
Service at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi was top-notch throughout. The staff were friendly, accommodating, and attentive to our needs. From the moment we checked in until the time of departure, we felt like valued guests.