Shooting up into the sky, the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi easily marvels first time guests from the sheer nature of its size. Standing at 37 storeys and located 20 minutes from the airport, the hotel’s location outside of Abu Dhabi’s city center reinforces its grandeur, which is further emphasized through its coupling of Arabian and Thai design elements. Having recently returned from a trip to Thailand, the impressive modern oriental interior of the hotel recalled some of the places I had visited, with the contemporary Far Eastern decor differentiating itself in terms of class and refinement from what many have come to associate with the Dusit Thani Dubai.
I was quickly assisted to my Club Junior Suite on the 25th floor, which encompassed a startling view of both the Abu Dhabi skyline as well as the hotel lobby below. While the king-size bed and living room area complete with a full work desk made the suite ideal for all business travel, the decor was what one would expect from a typical corporate hotel room, devoid from the more characteristic oriental detailing found in the hotel lobby and throughout the various culinary and leisure outlets.
The hotel is, after all, suited primarily to the business traveler. With 402 guest rooms as well as 131 deluxe serviced apartments, five dining outlets and a spacious conference center that can host up to 2,000 guests, the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi is equipped for large corporate gatherings and a quick few days trip to the UAE’s capital. Its location in the new business and government district is just a short 15-minute drive from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC), making it once again ideal for visitors on a quick stopover.
As I made my way down for dinner at Benjarong, the hotel’s Thai restaurant, I marveled at the magnificent glass-paneled Skydome. Certainly one of the hotel’s highlights, the dome spans 2,000 square meters and covers one of the largest pre-function foyers in the Middle East – an area set over two floors allowing guests to enjoy the natural daylight that shines through the dome’s glass exterior.
The wood-paneled walls and dim-lighting of Benjarong made me feel immediately at home. With a design that exudes a contemporary flair with traditional Thai elements, the restaurant’s subdued ambiance is ideal for a quiet meal away from the hustle of a long work day. Staff with elegant sarongs gracefully assisted me with my selection of dishes. An assortment of appetizers including a delicious Tom Yam soup was soon brought to the table. So bountiful was the serving that I was pained over what to devour first. The Thod Man Pla (prawn cakes) and tofu in rice crepes were one of my favorites. For the main course, I opted for King Prawn with Garlic Black Pepper, Pad Thai and Green Curry – the dishes each exuded incredibly fresh and fragrant ingredients. Green tea and Coconut ice cream for dessert was the ideal finish to a large and satisfying meal.
My breakfast the next morning in the hotel’s Urban Kitchen offered a full range of international fare. From Arabic mezze to French Toast, and spread over several sections of the restaurant, it was hard to know what to choose from. However, what was lacking were the Thai delicacies. My desire for something more authentic was satiated by the many other cuisines on display. Given the hotel’s Thai origins, it would have been nice to find a typical Thai breakfast for those eager for more exotic fare.
After breakfast a visit to the hotel’s state-of-the-art DFiT gym on the 20th floor revealed a spacious, fully-equipped area in which to work out while also marveling at the Abu Dhabi skyline through impressive glass windows. Situated on one of the hotel’s highest floors, the multi-faceted outdoor swimming pool wasn’t as impressive, but did the trick with jacuzzis and an area for children.
At the Namm Spa, a simple and contemporary setting complete with eight treatment rooms, allows guests to relax from a busy work day. Be sure to try the signature Thai massage by one of the spa’s Thai therapists to rejuvenate sore muscles.
While I stayed at the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi over the weekend, a time when one is more likely to find families, expatriates and local Emiratis enjoying the hotel’s facilities, as I left on Saturday afternoon a congregation of men in business suits, certainly newly arrived to the capital, whisked in and reminded me that this hotel’s purpose is primarily for people who work on the go. It does so well. While the hotel’s corporate element at times drowns its more charming Thai characteristics, all-in-all the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi lives up to its missive and at the same time provides enticing elements, such as its Thai culinary outlets, that will have guests returning for more.
Dusit Thai is located on 925 Muroor Street in Abu Dhabi. Tel: +971 26988888. www.dusit.com