Hotel stay - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Tranquil. That is the word that enters my mind as I arrive at Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi for a stay. Peaceful. That is the word that imposed itself on my mind as I check in to my Premier Executive room. An oasis of calm. That is the expression that sticks as I am offered a refreshing cool towel and equally refreshing drink at check in. Gorgeous, low key lighting sets the tone for that feeling of calm. The hushed tones of the staff reinforce that. Our butler greets us in the lobby and takes us to our room. He explains that along with a team of butlers, he will  be ensuring that we have a great stay. Understated elegance. That is my thought as we enter the room. Soft and warm tones continue the subtle arrest of the senses that started in the lobby.

Unique chandeliers on each floor. 
Skyscraper that packs  a lot of soul. 
Art pieces accentuate every floor. 
The Arabic influences, is so subtle and stylishly shown - the Islamic star, the iconic  symbol of the Rosewood Abu Dhabi brand is used in the room. The view. Ah the view. Expansive. The near ceiling to floor windows with its sumptuous views, means the curtains will never be drawn here, despite the high tech wall panel that operates the curtains electronically. As I listen to the butler, the ipad in the docking catches my attention. The butler explains. All the key features can be accessed and operated via the ipad. That means the air conditioning, television and lighting. In the course of my stay I would end up using it to request slippers for my daughter, room cleaning, extra toiletries - worked so well. Kids play. Technology is not used in the hotel as a gimmick. It is about simplifying things, something it achieves.  My eye moves to the magnificent Villeroy and Boch bath - this is deep soaking.

Fine Egyptian cotton linen.
View from our room. 
I open one of the small cupboard doors - I see a Nespresso coffee maker. On the sofa is a bag that catches my daughter's attention - it contains a t-shirt that is a perfect fit for her, playing cards and frisbee. The little things that matter, I think to myself. I thank the butler and say goodbye, as I continue to stare out the window. The welcome amenity of a selection of berries in a beautiful white chocolate case is in view. 

Hotels underestimate the importance of first impressions. In 20 minutes, Rosewood Hotel has managed to capture a child's mind and the soul of her father. But no time to ponder as my daughter has a kids' mani-pedi scheduled at Sense, the Rosewood Spa. 

Welcome amenity for Mitsuki.
Stylishly presented stationary. 
Off to the spa. On arrival at the spa, the sound of water flowing greets us. Tranquility - just how it should be. We are offered a cool refreshing towel and  a drink of lemongrass with a  hint of ginger.  We meet my daughter's therapist. Warm, sincere and immediately engaging. My usually-reticent and circumspect little one takes a liking to her immediately. 

Welcome drink at Sense Spa.
Sibusisiwe did a brilliant job connecting with Mitsuki. 
An hour later the mani-pedi is done, and we returnto our room. The curtains are slightly drawn and the bedside lamps are on - turndown service. The little things. The Pratesi Egyptian cotton linen never looked and felt better than at that moment in perfect lighting. 

The ipad simplifies main controls in the room. 
After the mani-pedi, we make a brief stop at the pool and then off to our room to prepare for dinner. The deep tub. Oh the deep tub. Roja toiletries, an exclusive Rosewood blend, makes the whole experience even more memorable. The subtle scent worked brilliantly. 


For dinner, we go to Sambusek, Rosewood's modern Lebanese restaurant. It is contemporary with a firm foot in the traditional past of this exciting of world cuisines. Our waiter for the night, a well and soft-spoken young man by the name of Godknows, yes that's right, takes us through the menu and his calm manner is something really very special. The food, as you would have read in my post on Sambusek, is outstanding, so this dinner ends up being about marveling at Godknows and his very almost diffident manner, a tribute to his humility. Again, the people. Admittedly he is still learning about wine, but that will come soon no doubt. 

Our waiter pours the Arak.
La Cava

The Cave, in English, has to be one of the most stylish Wine bars in the city. The spiral stair case leads one to an area that has been specially changed for the world cup. My immediate thought is that I want to come back after the world cup, but there is something about La Cava's character that is still inescapable amidst the cheering I periodically hear from the football fans: Class. Elegance. Peace. 

I find myself in a non-smoking space and commend management for this. While there is a separate 6-seater room with humidor for cigar smoking, it is a non smoking zone. In fact, the whole hotel is non smoking. Commendable. Very often hotels compromise on basic valuable principles for commercial reasons. Not here. I meet the staff and am again wowed by their warmth and knowledge. It takes very special staff to man a bar that contains 1500 premium labels. Hasan, the cellar master, is as engaging as he is knowledgeable. I am impressed. Really impressed. Having just had dinner and a few drinks, I am happy to enjoy a glass of Pomerol Moueix 2011, a wine I first enjoyed at Sambusek, Rosewood's Lebanese restaurant. After the game I leave and I can still smell  my Ted Lapidus cologne - no smoke. What an evening. 


I had the plesaure of dining here previously in what was a breakthrough for me in terms of experiencing the finest service I had ever expereinced in Abu Dhabi up to that point: So as we go for for breakfast, I am curious to see if it is able to captivate at breakfast the way it did at dinner. In short, yes!

Eggs benedict

Quality breakfast at Aqua.
It is a small venue with the breakfast spread concentrated in a horse shoe shape. A question I constantly ask when confronted by stadium style buffets is: How much food do you really need? And there is the issue of waste too. Aqua has a smaller buffet than numerous other high end properties, but this writer appreciates that. 

The service is slick. The culturally diverse staff are so engaging, making you feel at ease. After all, breakfast is a time when you want to start your day full of light banter and connection. Aqua provides just that. Happy, smiling faces at 7.45 in the morning. It is so infectious. Wish I could mention every single member of the team, but I am so afraid I might leave one out. Marvelous. 

The Pool

The subtle Arabian touches mentioned earlier can be found in the metallic structures which resemble dates trees and have, on closer inspection, designs which recall the Islamic star mentioned earlier. At night time these structures really come to life thanks to the lighting. Magnificent. Again we encounter some great staff. The pool has something unique in Abu Dhabi - it is the wheelchair access that the pool allows, and it has a seat specially designed to lower those who are physically challenged. This recalls the use of braille in the elevators. Sensitive.

It is 10 in the morning, but already hot. Ice buckets with  water and fruit sticks of watermelon are brought to guests. The little things. They add up. While at the pool, I could see my headache was not going away on its own. I spoke to the  lifeguard on duty who called the concierge. a ew minutes later someone came down with some aspirin. The little things. The extra mile. These are what set hotels apart. Not gadgets and labels. People. 

Beautiful seating options at the pool.
Sunset at the pool.
I had been excited about Aqua's brunch for a number of reasons. I had had no word of mouth, but my gut told me it was a fantastic brunch. Having tried Catalan, Aqua, Spice Mela and Sambusek, I knew this brunch would be a fitting way to close the brunch season. However, this knowledge does not quite prepare me for what is to follow. To do the experience justice, I wrote a separate piece which can be accessed here:

Five words: Emotional. Quality. Service. Celebratory. Life.

As we leavet Aqua, I feel emotionally spent. We head back to our room and pack the last of our things. I stare out the windows, something I had done 24 hours earlier. But so much richer than I was earlier, so fulfilled, so peaceful. 

A rosewood is a tree that gives off a wonderful fragrance. It is an appropriate name and then metaphor for this beautiful property. It is rooted to the ground with principles of fine service, ultra luxurious amenities, glorious dining options and its most valuable resource, its staff. What is the fragrance then? It is simple. It is something I alluded to in my piece on Aqua. It is what you see when you stand at the door and watch people's faces as they leave the hotel: tangible happiness. That is what Rosewood. Happiness. 

The low down

Rosewood Hotel, Al Maryah Island,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 813 5550

Room options
Deluxe Room
Premier Deluxe
Premier Executive
3 suite options and a Royal Suite coming soon
Room rates are seasonal