Friday brunch at Aqua - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi has always been synonymous with doing things differently. It is no surprise that its latest brunch pushes the philosophy of the SLOW food movement, where real food and its sourcing is a priority. Its brunch at Aqua has developed a loyal following, with its demographic eschewing traditionally large brunches, choosing instead this brunch with its Glo terrace in Winter being one of the most desired settings in the city. My daughter and I recently visited the hotel to try its brunch. 

1. Staff and service

This remains the first thing to comment on at Rosewood. The hotel has a knack for choosing staff that bring that homely feel when one is that their brunch. While the hotel still boasts quite a lot of staff from pre-opening, the new additions have generally fitted in with tremendous ease. I seldom single out staff because i feel it unfair, but Olawale, the lead bartender at my Aqua brunch experience is just one of those souls you cannot help but remember. He knows his product but more importantly, he listens to his guests and creates drinks accordingly. Along with Vivek, they have a real connection with guests and it is obvious from the synergy between them, that they enjoy working together. Finally, Olivet, a gentle giant of a spirit, was our waiter. He has this quality of tranquility about him that is inescapable. Seek him out on your next visit.

2. The terrace is where it is at

This has to be one of the nicest terraces at a  brunch in the city and I am glad that the brunch incorporates the full bar and makes it functional and not just decorative. It leaves you in no doubt that you are in the city, with glass and steal dominating, but the view of the water and a bit of green around provides a timely reminder of the value of balance in life. My daughter and her friend, both 11 year olds, actually spent most of their time outside with me at my table. They enjoyed the outdoor seating and commented on the lovely weather. 

3. Food Stations

As always, it is good to see the hotel's restaurants in Dai Pai Dong, Sambusek and also La Cava represented. Of course, the Indian tandoor reminds me of Spice Mela. However, there is also an impressive meat station, aptly called The Butcher Shop. Fresh produce around the terrace and inside remind one of the SLOW concept - very tastefully done. I like how the brunch is spread out and I like even more the fact that they have resisted packing the terrace. It is nice and open, with stations well placed. My favourite on the day is the tandoor kebabs with naan freshly mad. Make sure you have this!

Don't forget that the kids' brunch at Rosebuds remains one of the best in the city. There remain only two brunches offering a genuine brunch dedicated to kids, with independent stations for them. 

4. Drinks

Thanks to a generously sized bar, you can actually sit at the bar and have a drink, away from your table if you need a change of scenery. They have simplified the packages, with only the tip package offering bubbly, Prosecco and Veuve Clicquot NV champagne. I find this interesting as I always saw the middle package as a nice option for those wanting sparkling wine, albeit Prosecco. A choice of 6 wines, somewhat unprecedented at a  high end brunch in the city and matched by maybe one or two other brunches, gives much wanted variety with wine pairings. I have fallen in love with champagne cocktails this season, so a mimosa is not out of the question at this brunch. In fact, chat to the barmen and see what they can create for you within the parameters of the package you choose. 

5. After brunch

By the time the sun had set and the lights came on, it was just so hard to get up and leave. That is a credit to the venue. There are too many brunches that make you want to get up and leave for another place at 4pm. But, thanks to some out of the box-thinking, the after-brunch at Rosewood is a good one. For an additional 99AED, drinks, except champagne, can keep flowing for 2 hours, while a similar sum gives access to the buffet. This is very smart indeed and very much guest focussed, giving great value. Also, it is the only brunch I have tried recently where there is the option of food for this great price.


Kudos to the F&B team for maximising the potential of the terrace and creating a great setting for brunch. The indoor dining rea gives guest the chance to maybe have a quieter experience while terrace will remain the place to be for the next 3-4 months until it heats up. What is missing though is music - brunch is the great equaliser where most people want music. Brunch just misses that fun factor that music brings. The music that is played is much too soft and the playlist needs to be more brunch oriented. More fun. Music aside though, the brunch at Rosewood offers guests a chance to experience an awfully civilised brunch that is nonetheless very relaxed. Abundant stations and excellent drinks ensure it is a brunch that I am happy to recommend.

The Essentials 

Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 813 5550

Gourmet Food and Soft Drinks AED285++
Connoisseur Food, Grapes, Hops and Mixology AED385++
Gastronome Food, Grapes, Hops, Mixology and Bubbly AED450++

Friday Winding down | AED99 per guest
Appetizer and Salad Buffet + Pasta & Pizza + Grills of the Day + Dessert Display
Beverage Pairing Including House Wines | AED79 per guest
Beverage Pairing Including House Wines and Prosecco | AED99 per guest

Brandon Stoltenkamp