Hotel stay - Le Meridien, Abu Dhabi

A hotel that recently celebrated its 35th anniversary leaves one with questions, mainly surrounding the nature of its ability to have remained relevant and competitive after all these years. Abu Dhabi has seen a phenomenal boom in high end hotels the last 10 years, and yet Le Meridien was pulling out all the proverbial stops to celebrate. I recently had an opportunity to see just what it was that kept guests coming back.

As you step into the lobby you have no doubt you are in an old property. It is small, with three modest check-in counters. But your attention is caught by the centerpiece of the lobby lounge area, a water feature flanked by magnificent palm trees. It dawns on me - there is old and then there is classical. Classical, is the overwhelming thought here as you stand in the lobby of this 5 floor property.

Club Floor
The Club Lounge

After checking in, we take the lift up to the 5th floor. We are booked into a club room. On entering the room, I notice that the approximately 33 SQM room is well appointed, belying the age of the hotel. A 42 inch Plasma screen and free wifi reminds you that the hotel has kept apace with the technology needs of guests. I open the curtains to reveal a pristine balcony, offering views of the swimming pool area and part of the Village. Comfortable slippers - check. Decent toiletries in the bathroom - check. Complimentary water in room and bathroom - check. Happy. I just want to sit there, but curiosity about the club room, leads me there.  The club room concept is brilliant - for a little extra, guests benefit from a private lounge serving snacks throughout the day as well as coffee, tea, juice and soft drinks. The highlight, though, is canapés and cocktails between 7pm and 9pm.

The rooms are well maintained. 
Comfortable and stylish bathrooms.
The lounge is not big, but the hotel has shown creativity in adding more chairs to the balcony as well as just outside the lounge area itself. The lounge staff are very welcoming and I decide on a glass of sparkling water before taking my daughter for a swim.

My daughter is quite excited. Finally. She associated the hotel with some old and uninspiring one because I told her how old the hotel was. Kids are so easy though. After the club lounge she has forgotten the age of the hotel and, as we go to swim, I can feel her awakened enthusiasm.

A resort-feel pervades the grounds. 
Excellent recreation facilities.

On our way, we pass through, what I believe to be one of the hotel's strengths, its garden and Village area. Walking over a small bridge, we see turtles and fish, including khoi, in very natural and healthy looking water. Very Asian. Peaceful. We then move to the swimming pool area. It is impressive. There are three pools, catering for all. Just beyond the swimming pools is the beach. A mere 1 minute walk. Super convenient. There are lifeguards on duty who are very active in watching everyone. This I find reassuring. There are sleeper chairs around the pool and umbrellas. Unfortunately, not enough of the latter, so we choose to stay in the pool, which offers relief against the unrelenting sun. A false note perhaps. But my daughter is having such a fabulous time that this is soon forgotten. However, we start to feel hungry and head for our room. Having had lunch at the excellent Pappagallo ( See review here:, we decide to have dinner at Le Bistrot, at their French restaurant.

The khoi and turtle pond
Yes, this is in Abu Dhabi
The main building of the hotel with the bridge leading to the Village.

After a quick shower though, I decided to check out the canapés and drinks in the club lounge. I was impressed. I have seen lounges in a few 4* hotels here, and this was quite lovely relative the to the cost of the room.  There was a large selection of wine and spirits, dwarfing, sadly, the selection of canapés. However, having shared this concern with management, I am confident the imbalance will be addressed.

Club lounge canapés  
Club lounge treats
Then, it was dinner at Le Bistrot. We were lucky to have a wonderful assistant manager to guide us through the menu and make suggestions. While the main dishes were underwhelming, we enjoyed the fine wine list. The dinner was second, though, to the atmosphere in the Village, as the resident band belted out song after song with a jazzy, yet funky interpretation. You absolutely have to experience the Village at night. It creates a resort feel and you will be forgiven for thinking you are no longer in the city. Overall a great evening.

Next morning, I noticed my newspaper had not been delivered. A small thing, but a big one to a guest. I then went to the lounge at 6am - early riser- where I read the paper, before heading for breakfast at La Brasserie. Now whether you hate buffets or not, you have to admit that the breakfast buffet is a treat, because it is so hard to mess it up, you see. La Brasserie, to be reviewed separately, was a great family experience and I was surprised by the presence of the chefs, the fantastic effort by the staff and ...well. you need to read about it.

Finally, after a short swim, we checked out. We felt richer for having come here. It is very exciting indeed when you discover something that surprises you, something wholly unexpected. That was our time here. Was it the richness and lushness of the garden? The vibrancy of the Village? The resort-like property? Either way, I reflected on a weekend well spent, right in the city, but not in the city.

As for my daughter, she is learning  a valuable lesson in hospitality: an old property brings with it stories and traditions which transcend the facade of excellence. It is something ingrained in the walls of this 35 year old property. Here's to the next 35 Le Meridien!

The finer details

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi 4*
02 644 6666
Club rooms 450 AED-750 depending on season.