With so many awards and much industry speak about the exciting development of Abu Dhabi, as a holiday destination, Jessica was keen to learn for herself, what a trip to Abu Dhabi with Etihad entails. She discovered that there was a lot more than a race-track and desert....
On arrival into Manchester Airport we were met by our lovely Etihad Representative, Shauna, and once our suitcases had been checked in, we were whisked-off to see the Etihad Lounge. With a superb à la carte dining menu, the lounge is an ideal way to start off your holiday — the feeling of complete relaxation and being waited on, whilst sipping complimentary Champagne. My favourite section of the lounge was the Children’s Room, which was a perfect space to keep children of all ages relaxed and entertained before a long flight. On-board the aircraft we enjoyed the wide range of current movies, whilst tucking into gourmet cuisine — dishes which were beautifully presented and restaurant standard. Before we knew it, we had arrived into Abu Dhabi in the evening and on leaving the airport, it is easy to differentiate between here and Dubai. Abu Dhabi is much more laid back, less overwhelming, with fewer buildings and sky scrapers. Until, that is, you reach the Yas Viceroy — even from a distance, its distinct ‘race track’ exterior is gloriously lit-up, and we were in awe. We were all immediately drawn to the edge of the hotel in order to see the race track below. There were some locals racing their own cars on the track and the noise was so incredible — extremely exciting to watch. Walking through the lobby you can feel just how sleek and stylish this hotel is. Having been escorted to our rooms, we could not believe the size of them! The generous interior was matched by a huge balcony, overlooking the famous race track. There was a living area, twin beds and bathroom – all large enough to fit a party in! Everything was finished to perfection — the décor was crisp white, to fit in with the contemporary style of the hotel. After settling in, we headed up to the top floor and the rooftop bar. This is probably one of the coolest bars I have ever been to! With mood lighting where colours changed every few minutes, to the crisp white sofa’s complete with Shisha’s and chilled out Ibiza-esque background music – it was all very stylish. After a drink or two, we decided to head down to ‘Rush’ the nightclub which is within the Viceroy hotel. It just happened to be ‘Ladies Night’, with complimentary Champagne flowing! Needless to say, we happily danced the night away!
There was a wide variety of breakfast cuisine, and it was difficult not to have second helpings! Afterwards, Yas Viceroy took us to nearby Yas Beach for a leisurely day of soaking up the sunshine. Yas Beach, with its fine sand and clear water, is incredible — you wouldn’t believe that you are in the desert! We spent the morning enjoying the sunshine and later went to the Beach Bar for lunch. The Beach Bar is an open-air venue where you can enjoy lunch (club sandwich), whilst taking in the attractive sea views. Having enjoyed the sun, that afternoon, we went back to the hotel and returned to the rooftop once more, this time to enjoy the large swimming pool. There was something very surreal about being in a swimming pool looking out to the dramatic views of Abu Dhabi! For dinner, we ventured to another hotel, Rosewood Abu Dhabi which is situated in the financial district of Abu Dhabi. Following a tour of the hotel, we visited the Aqua restaurant – the centrepiece Chandelier was absolutely stunning — I can still picture it now! We were also struck, by the hotel’s bedrooms with the baths set beside the windows. Relaxing in a bath here, whilst looking out at the twinkling skyline, needs to be on everyone’s bucket list! Next, we were taken into La Cava wine cellar, via circular wooden stairs, which is surrounded by wall-to-wall cabinets housing 1,500 premium labels. The Private Reserve caters to discerning palates, with the rarest of vintages offered in a highly secured part of the cellar. There is also a walk-in cigar room and humidor, in combination with a prized Whisky selection — making for a snug, cigar bar. We were also taken to the ‘hidden bar’ which is actually situated through a back entrance to the Dai Pai Dong restaurant, going through this secret door was like something out of a film. We were then met by a Mixologist who asked about our preferences, and then invented a unique cocktail for each member of the group - divine! Later, we enjoyed a meal at Sambusek with its traditional Lebanese menu (we enjoyed nine courses!) and sat outside overlooking the bustling city of Abu Dhabi. It was a meal that I will never forget.
On our final day in Abu Dhabi we visited the famous Ferrari World. On entering, you can see why this attraction is so very popular. For someone who isn’t into cars (me) I found myself walking around the exhibitions in awe, and of course, stopping to have my picture taken with the renowned red machines! As a group, we decided to be brave and to have a go on the world’s fastest rollercoaster. As we waited in the queue, we could hear the screams of people who were already on the ride — being nervous didn’t even come close! We sat in the front and put our ‘safety goggles’ on, buckled-up and sat in anticipation — the feeling of will never leave me, I now know why it’s one of the best rollercoasters in the world! I would do it all again in a heartbeat – a must-do experience whilst in Abu Dhabi. After all, not many people can say they have experienced the world’s fastest rollercoaster! To continue with the adrenalin rush, we moved on to Yas Waterworld where we experienced the Middle East’s longest suspended rollercoaster and the huge wave machine. After our fun filled morning we headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day on the rooftop at the adults-only swimming pool — complete with round day beds and cocktails to hand for the ultimate in relaxation. For our final meal, we were excited to dine at Atayeb where we had a table outside on the edge of the racetrack. Atayeb specialises in Arabic cuisine, so we savoured a specially prepared eight-course menu with stunning dishes from beef and raisin tagine to fattoush. The food here was outstanding. Never before have I enjoyed Arabic cuisine so much. After the meal had finished, we even received a signed copy of all the recipes, from the Head Chef. This was such a lovely touch and I will definitely been trying these recipes out at home! We sat and enjoyed, for the final time, the noise of the cars racing around the track. A volume of noise which will never leave me! What an experience! At midnight we departed for our flight home, and it was with a heavy heart that we left the Yas Viceroy. Our overnight Etihad flight was busy, however the service did not suffer and the in-flight entrainment was excellent, as was the three-course meal — a perfectly smooth ending to our thrilling trip.