Stephanie Holmes checks into a huge junior suite with palace views
On Corniche Rd, opposite Abu Dhabi's iconic
, and along the road from the newly complete — and incredibly impressive — Presidential Palace buildings. Next door are the Etihad Towers, as seen in an impressive stunt sequence in boy racer-favourite
The building: Is brand new — it's built on land gifted to Morocco by the late Sheikh Zayed. Two towers, linked by two bridges, gleam bright copper in the dusty sunlight — the copper shade is to reflect the colours of Marrakesh.
Check in experience: Excellent — there was a group of seven of us arriving together but checking in separately, but with two reception desks with three staff each, there was little waiting around.
Room: A junior suite on the 23rd floor (there are 34 floors in total). It's a huge room, with floor-to-ceiling windows across the entire external wall providing great views of both palaces, and further along the corniche to Yas Island, and out across the Arabian sea. The suite includes a super kingsize bed, lounge area, study area and two comfortable armchairs looking out to the Emirates Palace.
Price: Junior suites start from $270 per night.
What's so good about this place: Friendly staff, huge rooms, and a good location with great views.
And the bad? It's a brand new hotel in a brand new building, so not everything is quite up and running yet.
Decor: My suite was tastefully decorated, with plush soft furnishings and plenty of room to relax. The building is designed to combine both Moroccan and Arabic elements — there are beautiful touches to be found throughout, including mosaic tiling, crystal glass sofas, mother of pearl inlay and intricate wooden lattice work.
Wi-Fi: Yes, complimentary, and no password required. Fast and reliable.
Bed: Large and comfortable with four overlarge, feathery pillows, and beautifully soft white linen.
Bathroom: Large and clean, with lots of fresh white marble and tiles. There's a separate bath and shower — the latter of which has both rain head and power shower options. The complimentary Amage toiletries smelt amazing.
Food and beverage:
In my room on arrival were a fruit platter with plates of dates and incredible baklava. Tea and coffee making facilities and still water were on offer. The two bottles of sparkling water provided were a lovely touch, but unfortunately unusable as they required a bottle opener and there was none to be found in the room. My travelling companions all had the same problem, and had to call reception for someone to bring bottle openers up to them.
In the hotel there is currently one restaurant, Artisan, with two more — including a Peruvian restaurant — opening soon. There's also a deli offering cabinet food, fresh produce and gourmet gifts. We dined at Artisan and enjoyed every mouthful of the special tasting menu we were served — including a mouth-watering ceviche and mezze platter.
Breakfast was included in the room rate, and the buffet was exceptional. There were a variety of international breakfast cuisines to choose from — I made the most of the Arabian selection which included a few different varieties of labneh and hummus.
As is the case throughout the "dry" United Arab Emirates, alcohol is only available to be served in hotels and restaurants. Bab Al Qasr's bar wasn't in operation on my visit, but we enjoyed some excellent wines over dinner at Artisan and, on our last night sat outside at the poolside terrace until quite late at night enjoying a red wine nightcap.
Entertainment: The bedroom has a large flat-screen TV, with a large variety of satellite channels. The TV's sound is also pumped into the bathroom through speakers inset into the ceiling, so I enjoyed listening to VH1 classics while I got ready to go out to dinner.
Exercise facilities: 24-hour state of the art gym, with personal trainer on hand, who is more than happy to create a fitness programme for you. Don't be intimidated, but he is a former Dutch Olympian who competed at London 2012. There's an outdoor 35m infinity swimming pool, with a great view — surrounded by towering skyscrapers, and looking out to the hotel's private beach.
Staff: All perfectly presented, friendly and welcoming. My favourite member of the Bab team was the delightfully named Kakooza, a porter wearing dapper rich purple robes, and a 100-watt smile.
Perfect for: A high-end escape in this incredible city; business travellers looking for some luxury; anyone who wants to gaze longingly at the Emirates Palace.
In a nutshell: A Moroccan oasis in the United Arab Emirates.
Bab Al Qasr is on Corniche Road, West, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Phone: +971 2205 3000.