Hotel Review - Dusit Thani Hotel, Abu Dhabi

As an Asian, specifically Thai branded hotel, Dusit Thani brings something unique to Abu Dhabi. Thai service is something legendary, and having made several trips to the city of Bangkok s times and having experienced a part of Thai culture close up, I was full of anticipation at the prospect of  spending a night at Dusit Thani in Abu Dhabi.

Check in

While it is often here that one starts to experience a hotel, mine started two days earlier when I received  a call from a reservation agent asking if there was anything I needed to make my upcoming stay more pleasurable. Nice!

Check-in itself starts off perfectly - A cold scented towel and  a  cool cup of lemon grass tea. I can see how this is going to be even more essential in the Summer months. The lobby of the hotel is quite imposing, with a 37 floor atrium the obvious highlight. But for me it is the Thai touches that make it stand out. We take the glass elevator up to our room on the 27th floor - not  abad way to enjoy the atrium. For the fainthearted, don't fret. There are more standard elevators as well. 

The room

 I like the fact that the porter is waiting for us at the door with our luggage. Secondly, a welcome amenity of a generous fruit basket is brought to our room shortly after our arrival. A really excellent start to our stay. Our junior suite has a separate living room, affording my daughter the chance to turn up the TV without disturbing me too much. The room is very elegantly Thai, warm and welcoming. We are ensconced in beautiful, earthy colours. 

The bathroom, with separate rain shower, is very spacious. Favourite part of the bathroom? Yes, my favourite toiletries by L'Occitane. 

I look around the room, and notice the extra pair of slippers I had requested for my 8 year old. But not only that, because there is also an extra bathrobe. The little things that matter. It is with an overwhelmingly positive mind set that I head down to Friday brunch. 

Friday Brunch at Urban Kitchen

Having tried this brunch about 8 months earlier, I am obviously keen to see how it has come along since then. You can read that first review here:

It is not long before I notice the changes. They have switched to a family produced champagne, the  Claude Baron Cuveé Brut Champgane. Mumm it is not, but I think acceptable for a Friday brunch. Shortly after my champagne is poured, I am offered an exciting new addition to the brunch, Eggs benedict. I for one would like to see more breakfast items served at a brunch. Isn't that what brunch means anyway? If you look at brunches in Dubai, it is not uncommon to find  a few breakfast items served. That eggs benedict, by the way, is simply delicious. 

The service is as attentive as I have experienced on previous occasions at Urban Kitchen I love it when staff anticipate a guest's needs, and that is what I perceive again today.  Meanwhile, there is a energy in the brunch, with live music performed. As is customary these days, a jazzy feel is given to the brunch, and with a frame of reference, it works better for Urban Kitchen than the piano.

Asian dishes. that is of course ultimately whats sets this brunch apart from the rest. Sweet and sour fish, Singaporean noodles, Chicken katsu and Nasi goreng all hit the right note, but it is the Tom yam goong that I request that really excites. Most south East Asian chefs can make this classic Thai soup, but not everyone can get the balance of flavours just right - a very good dish.

I notice a cheese station. A real cheese station. I am impressed. The last time there was a modest selection of about 5 or 6 cheeses, but today I can see more thought has gone into it. The whole presentation speaks of how they have recognised that  a good cheese station says alot about your brunch. I particularly like the selection of jams and fruit that accompany the cheeses.

Finally, to round off a very good brunch, I visit the dessert station. I see a modest selection of a la carte size desserts. Interesting, I reflect to myself. I speak to Chef David, the new pastry chef who has arrived from China. I understand what he is doing. He is returning desserts to a place where a chef can play around with presentation, rather than serve dessert in tiny glasses! Of course, sadly the brunch culture seems to be about how many desserts you can fit onto your plate in one go, so it will be about re-educating diners. But I like it. One or two top desserts rather that 5 merely 'acceptable' desserts.

The outdoor Pool

After brunch, a quick change upstairs saw us go to the swimming pool for some relaxing time. The swimming pool, outdoors on the 23rd floor, is a pleasure to visit, especially with the Abu Dhabi skyline visible for 180 degrees. The outdoor area has been refurbished since my last stay, with a dash of colour in the upholstery of the loungers a wonderful sight. Bar service is up and running too, and there is a constant flow of drinks coming through the door. The life guard and attendants on duty come around often enough to offer cold towels and water. I am impressed - on my last stay none of these gestures happened.

Dinner at Benjarong

Tonight is my fourth time dining at Benjarong. With the exception of the first time, the others have been very disappointing. Only the service though. The food has always been exceptional. I am a bit anxious about how the night will go, but I see Gerald, a former waiter in Urban Kitchen and I relax somewhat. Could he be the x factor tonight? While I am musing over this, Angeline comes over and takes our order. All anxiety dissipates. Angeline is immediately engaging and attentive.

We start off with the Mixed platter comprising chicken satay, fish cake with sugar cane skewer, rice paper veggie rolls and prawn cracker. It is a stunning start to dinner. Each of those items on the platter scream of something special and unique, but I will reserve my comments for two in particular. The rice paper veggie rolls are beautifully rolled. Rich in textures and oozing with freshness and aroma. Stellar. Finally, probably my dish of the day that moves me to seek out Chef Yongyos Chimthep and share my excitement with him - the fish cake with sugar cane skewer.  Not hard to find him as I see him on the floor connecting with his guests. The dish is so full of flavour that a broad smile covers my face as I  bite into it. The trick is to really bite and suck that sugar cane  so that the sweetness mixes with the fish cake. The softness of the fish cake and the crunch of the sugar cane clash wonderfully! A simple but clever dish. 

Having had  a heavy brunch, I want something light for my main and I opt for the Ka-Na Nam Man Hoy, which is wok fried young Chinese Kale with oyster sauce. That is a very Chinese dish and I am happily surprised by Chef's rendering of the dish. The kale is still crunchy, having been wok fried for a short time, leaving it very lightly touched by the oyster sauce.

Finally, dessert is a fate accompli. It has to be the Khao Niew Mamuang, also known as sticky rice with mango. Thai mango at its freshest and sticky rice with that coconut milk balanced nicely. A perfect dessert.

Dinner at Benjarong ends with more great memories of people. For once, the service matched the excellent dishes put out by Chef, and I was able to see Benjarong with all the possibilities it could achieve. A fantastic dinner.

After dinner, our attention is grabbed by a  celebration outside the restaurant that is spilling out from one of the banquet halls - it is a wedding. It is joyful and spontaneous, as the bride and groom make their way through the crowd. An unexpected moment to share in.

Breakfast at Urban Kitchen

The next morning I am up early and make some coffee using the in-room Nespresso machine. A wonderful amenity to have in the room. An hour later, we make our way to Urban Kitchen again, this time for breakfast.

The strength at Urban Kitchen is there fantastic team of staff, from the chef de cuisine all the way to the serving staff and the hostesses. There may be a lack of Thai staff in this Thai branded hotel, but there is no shortage of warm and diligent service.

As we are are seated my daughter is offered a hot chocolate while my request for a newspaper is met within a minute. Coffee is served immediately. First impressions. How positive. The options are plentiful and you can find all the usual dishes you can expect at a breakfast fitting of  a hotel like Dusit Thani. I have a only a couple dishes though. I see if chef Rakesh can make me an Eggs Benedict (not on the menu) and he graciously obliges. That egg has just the right softness. I also have one of the freshly made smoothies. Finally, a selection of fruit rounds off my breakfast. I always say that food is incidental, but people are everything. That is again illustrated by the staff here.

Spa treatment at Namm Spa

I am excited about the spa, because I actually tried it before and absolutely loved it. We arrive 15 minutes before the time. The spa is very calming. The colours set the tone for that feeling of relaxation. The therapists continue this feeling with their genuine Thai hospitality. For a full review, you can read my post here:

After a glorious spa treatment, I float back to our room. We choose to try room service, so laid back and relaxed are we after our treatments, that I do not want to go anywhere except stay in the room. The meal is more functional than anything else, but I enjoy the precision of the room service attendant. He takes his care as he lays out everything.

As I leave our room to check out, I peer down 27 floors to the peacefulness that is the lobby. No matter how busy they are, there just seems to be such peace down there. The elevator takes me down and as the door opens, I hear it  - the soothing sounds of the kim, a traditional Thai musical instrument.  I stand transfixed for a moment, mesmerised by the player's hand movements. Only at Dusit Thani, I reflect. It has been stay that has shown me just how far the hotel has come in delivering top class service mixed with high Thai culture! Dusit Thani, as the name suggests, is truly 'Town in heaven' here in Abu Dhabi.

The lowdown

Dusit Thani Hotel, 
Abu Dhabi
02 698 8888