Introduction: The Flight Of A Lifetime
Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington Dulles Airport
Review: Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles Airport
Review: Etihad Business Class 787 Washington To Abu Dhabi
Review: Shangri-La Abu Dhabi
Review: Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Residence Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Review: Etihad Residence A380 Abu Dhabi To Sydney
Review: Hyatt Regency Sydney
Review: Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport
Review: Virgin Australia Business Class 737 Sydney To Melbourne
Review: Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Virgin Australia Business Class 777 Melbourne To Los Angeles
My flight from Washington arrived at around 8PM, and then my flight the next day to Cairo departed at around 9AM, meaning that I really just needed a hotel for eight hours or so. However, I figured I’d take the opportunity to review something new.
While the Premier Inn is connected directly to Abu Dhabi Airport, it looks more like a dorm room than a hotel, so unless I have a very short overnight, I prefer just heading to a hotel near the airport. In terms of hotels nearby, I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Capital Gate and Westin, both of which are great.
However, I’ve also heard great things about the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, which is even closer to the airport than those two properties, and is near the mosque. The rate for one night was ~$175. On the surface that’s more than I wanted to pay for a quick overnight, though I booked it through Shangri-La Luxury Circle, so it included a room upgrade, free breakfast, and a $100 property credit. I’d consider that to be a pretty solid deal for a one night layover.
The drive from the airport to the Shangri-La took under 15 minutes, and the first thing that I noticed as we pulled up is that the hotel was on a massive complex, with a hotel, residences, several restaurants, etc. This isn’t some quiet, secluded place, but rather is a destination resort for many. I was sad I only had a quick overnight to spend here.
As I got out of the taxi the bellmen were super helpful and insisted on escorting me to reception, which was located inside the (rather grand) lobby and to the left.
Even though I was the first person in line, there was about a five minute wait before I was helped. The check-in process was quick once I was called over, and I was also presented with a letter outlining the benefits I’d receive for booking through Luxury Circle.
I was told that I had been upgraded to a Premier room, and that my room was on the same floor as reception (the fourth floor). So from the entrance I turned right and eventually found myself in the hallway leading to guest rooms. Probably the first 100+ feet of the hallway had big white sheets on the floor, which I found a bit… odd, as there were no visible signs of construction.
It was quite a walk to my room (#437), though eventually I found it on the left towards the end of the hallway.
I loved the design of the hotel before even stepping into my room — check out the cool lighting fixtures outside the room.
Inside the door to my room was a small foyer with some art and a table with flowers.
Often you’ll see hotels try to integrate some local elements into the furnishings of the room, though this hotel did a great job even integrating it into the architecture of the actual room. Very well done.
Inside the entrance and to the right was the king size bed, which was soft and had great pillows.
Across from that was a sitting area with two chairs, as well as a console with the TV and minibar.
Between the two chairs was a welcome amenity consisting of fresh fruit and some dessert, including dates.
The minibar had a selection of soft drinks, wine, and beer, and next to it was a kettle. I didn’t see a coffee machine, so I suspect they just offered hot water and instant coffee.
In a partitioned off area to the side was an office area.
Then past that was a sizable closet (at least for a non-suite).
And then next to that, back towards the entrance, was the large bathroom area. The bathroom featured a sink, tub, walk-in shower, and partitioned off toilet and bidet.
I was impressed by the number of amenities they had in the room (rather than having to call down for some of these things), though I thought that their toiletries smelled a bit unusual.
The room also had a balcony, which I photographed in the morning when it was light out. It had a chair and table, as well as a cozy nook.
The balcony had views of the beach, waterfront, and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the distance.
Overall I thought the room was spacious and well appointed. I loved the way they integrated some local elements into the design, though I did think the room felt maybe a little bit dated. That’s not a major problem, since it wasn’t dated to the point of feeling shabby, but I think in a few years the hotel could use a refresh.
While my stay at the hotel was short, I did try to check out some of the facilities. The hotel’s gym is located in a separate building, I believe over by the Shangri-La residences. While the path would otherwise be a bit confusing, the hotel has signage to guide you, in the form of yellow feet painted onto the floor.
The architecture of this property is incredible and surprising. There are some canals where I guess you could take boat rides — hah.
The walk to the other building took about five minutes, and once there I saw the door to the spa and gym. The gym is open from 6AM until 11PM, so I visited just shortly before it closed. The hotel has a separate gym for men and women.
The gym itself looked fairly good.
There was also an outdoor pool area on the roof with an incredible view of the mosque.
I worked for several hours and then eventually ordered some room service, given that I had the $100 food & beverage credit to spend. I still didn’t even get close to spending that, and in a way I need to stop accounting for food & beverage credits for quick one night stays where eating unnecessarily really isn’t in my best interest. 😉
The views of the mosque were equally beautiful during the day.
The hotel has multiple pools, so below is a picture of one of the pools near the beach.
Breakfast is served at Sofra bld, one of the hotel’s restaurants, from 6AM until 10:30AM. The restaurant is large, and I was among the only people there. I found the service to be disappointing — I was offered coffee when I arrived, but wasn’t offered any refills, and plates weren’t cleared. It’s one thing if there were servers in the area and I could have flagged them down, but I rarely saw anyone.
The buffet itself was over the top, as you’d expect in the region. If I had one complaint, I wish that they had Indian food (I’ve had some of the best Indian food outside of India in the Middle East, and many hotels incorporate this into their breakfast buffets).
On the plus side, the hotel did have ice cream, as any civilized breakfast buffet in the region should. 😉
At around 7:30AM I checked out of the hotel and headed back to Abu Dhabi Airport for my flights to Cairo and back. Unfortunately the check-out process took about 15 minutes. I’m not sure why, but that was despite the fact that there was no wait to be helped. Instead the associate just took forever to process my check-out.
Shangri-La Abu Dhabi bottom line
I had a good stay at the Shangri-La Abu Dhabi, and a quick overnight wasn’t enough time to experience all that the hotel has to offer. This hotel has a convenient location if transiting through Abu Dhabi Airport, and is right near the mosque, which is one of Abu Dhabi’s most popular tourist attractions. Beyond that, the Shangri-La is a popular destination for the great restaurants, beach, and other activities it offers. With Luxury Circle benefits, I’d say this was a pretty good value as well.
So, would I return? As much as I’d recommend the hotel for certain types of people, personally I probably wouldn’t. If I’m actually visiting Abu Dhabi as a destination, I prefer to stay closer to the city. Meanwhile for a quick overnight I’d rather earn elite credits in my preferred hotel loyalty programs and stay at the Westin, Aloft, or Hyatt, but that’s just me.