Elegant rooms have flat-screen TVs, kettles, and bathrobes
Great dining options include Brazilian restaurant and Belgian cafe
24-hour piano lounge, outdoor cocktail bar, and swim-up bar
Full spa with sauna and steam bath
Squash court and modern fitness center
Palatial ballroom and 16 meeting rooms
24-hour business center
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Some areas are showing their age
Views can be spoiled by developments across the water
Not close to major tourist attractions
The four-and-a-half-pearl InterContinental Abu Dhabi shares the western corner of the island with several more high-end neighbors, with its only edge being a private marina and a nicely renovated beach. Diverse, quality, dining options are a perk and it checks all the boxes with two outdoor pools, a waterslide, spa, and extensive meeting facilities, but everything is showing its age. The 390 rooms aren't quite up to the city's extravagant standards either, with noticeably dated bathrooms and older amenities. It would be a solid luxury hotel almost anywhere else, but it can't compete with the ultra-modern properties nearby, like the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, but its rates are competitive.
The InterContinental Abu Dhabi's refined, somewhat stuffy atmosphere is more conducive for business travelers or tourists looking for a quieter stay, than for families with children. The relatively plain-looking 1980s building is easy to overlook next to the outrageous glass towers that have come up since its construction. It's more posh on the inside, with walls and square columns covered in beautiful stone panels, and clusters of glassy light installations sparkling overhead. Low couches and armchairs nestled between the rows of columns form isolated sitting areas, and at the far end of the lobby a lounge overlooks the marina below. Unfortunately, its lovely beach faces man-made embankments across the water, that tend to spoil the view, and worse, they're clearly marked for future developments. Additionally, many of the areas, particularly room bathrooms and certain restaurants, are starting to show their age.
On the waterfront, surrounded by government buildings and luxury towers
Overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the InterContinental Abu Dhabi faces its own private marina. It's less than a 10-minute walk around the marina's boardwalk to the hotel's white-sand beach, and about a 16-minute walk from the Corniche promenade. Its neighbors include the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and several luxury towers. Marina Mall is seven minutes away by car, and the waterfront Heritage Village is nine minutes. There are some interesting vistas in the immediate area, but none of the major tourist attractions are within walking distance, making this a better spot for business travelers than sightseers. Expect a 32-minute drive to Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The hotel's 390 rooms have either city or Gulf views, and elegant, neutral-tone decor. It seems gratuitous to suggest that rooms of this caliber are in need of renovation, but for a hotel in this range, the furnishings are a bit tired and the amount of wear on them is worth noting. Moreover, despite the abundance of wood and leather, there's nothing strikingly high-end about the amenities. Free Wi-Fi is standard, as are minibars, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and old-looking flat-screen TVs. Classic rooms have work desks with leather-backed chairs and small sitting areas with loveseats. Executive Rooms add access to the 18th-floor Club Lounge with a free breakfast and happy hour. The plain bathrooms have bidets, small rainfall showers, and separate soaking tubs, plus bathrobes, hairdryers, and toiletries. Suites add large living rooms with espresso machines, and bathrooms with jetted tubs.
Private beach and marina, two outdoor pools, six restaurants and three bars, and full spa
The InterContinental Abu Dhabi does not skimp on features, catering both to leisure and business travelers. The hotel overlooks its own private marina, and beyond that a stretch of white-sand beach facing the Gulf. Rows of comfortable wicker loungers with eggshell-blue cushions are set in pairs under reed umbrellas with small tables between them, and there are some hammocks as well. The larger outdoor pool is between the beach and the marina (a bit of a walk from the hotel), featuring a large sundeck, swim-up bar, hot tub, and a waterslide in a separate splash pool. Another outdoor pool sits on a third-floor terrace attached to the main building. The full-service spa offers a variety of treatments, in addition to a sauna and steam bath. A modern fitness center and squash courts are also on-site. Business-friendly facilities include 16 meeting rooms, an opulent ballroom, and a 24-hour business center with multiple workstations.
For dining, six diverse restaurants are spread across the property. Two have waterfront views adjacent to the beach -- the seafood heavy Fishmarket, and the Lebanese Byblos sur Mer -- both of which have seating on outdoor terraces. Other eateries include a Brazilian restaurant, a Belgian cafe, an international buffet, and an alfresco Italian restaurant. There are also a 24-hour piano lounge and an outdoor cocktail bar.
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