This past week, I had the opportunity to stay at the Marriott Downtown, Abu Dhabi. Since my other half travels a lot, I try to use any and every chance to see him wherever he is. This time, he was not far away from home, but spending much of his time in Abu Dhabi on his work.
While there, he stays at the Marriott Downtown during the week. So not only do we have the experience of staying there as a short-term guest, but also as a long-term one. Having stayed in a few of the top hotels in the city, I consider Marriott Downtown to be one of my favourites. Read on to find out why.
Dubai – Abu Dhabi
Some visitors to UAE may not know this but the best way, in my opinion, to travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on a budget is by coach. I took the coach for the first time since I would regularly be stuck in traffic jams on the way to Abu Dhabi and I wouldn’t be able to get much work done in that time in the car. Once I tried the coach option, I’ve been happy and now travel in comfort.
For AED 25 ($7), you can comfortably travel in a wifi-enabled, air-conditioned coach. Leaving every 30 minutes from the Ibn Battuta Bus Station and arriving at Abu Dhabi Main Bus Terminal, the entire trip takes approximately 1.5 hours. Even though taking a taxi would only take 1 hour, but I’d instead get some work done and enjoy the view than go by taxi, spend AED 250 ($68) every week and not be able to do anything else in that time.
Marriott Downtown is centrally located a few minutes walk from the Abu Dhabi Main Bus Terminal. I usually get down at the bus terminal and do the 10-minute shortcut through the mall to the hotel. It is bang in the centre of town with a large mall, Al Wahda Mall, right opposite. Located 34 km from the Abu Dhabi airport (AUH), the hotel is within a 5-10 minute car ride to the beach, most restaurants, office buildings and major sights.
The hotel is right at the corner of a busy intersection. However, this does not affect the quiet of the hotel. Walking to the entrance of the hotel, I noticed that while the porter held the door open for me, he didn’t offer to keep my bag to the side while I completed the formalities. It may have been because all I had with me was a little stroller. I noticed later that they did help a family with more baggage by bringing the luggage trolley, so I think it may have been a one-off occurrence.
Walking into the hotel lobby, the first impression is understated simplicity. I get the feeling that they cater more towards business travellers rather than tourists to the city. The check-in process was pretty straightforward, especially since we had been previously notified of our room upgrade on our Marriott Rewards app.
As my spouse had already arrived a few days prior, all I had to do was inform them that I was joining him. Although there was no one handing out welcome drinks for those checking in, there was Arabic coffee placed in the reception. Once I was handed my key and asked if I needed help with luggage, I made my way to the room.
The Executive Room
Due to our Gold Elite status, Marriott upgraded us to an Executive room on the 21st floor of the hotel. The room was a few doors away from the elevators, which suited us just fine. The room itself was quite spacious with a fantastic view of the city and the Arabian Gulf. With the bed tucked into an area on the right side of the room, there is plenty of space in the main living area. Also, a big day-bed with ottoman was placed strategically overlooking the massive windows.
A bowl of fruits was sitting on the table as a welcome platter. I much prefer this to chocolate or cake, as you never know which guest would have dietary restrictions, medical or otherwise.
The bathroom is quite lovely with marble countertops, a shower area, and a bathtub. The bathroom amenities are an Italian brand, Acca Kappa, which is usually placed in the Marriott hotels in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
The Executive Lounge
The Executive Room came with access to the Executive Lounge. Located on the 20th floor, the lounge is quite spacious with a lounge area, a dining area, and two private work booths. We had a range of perks including evening drinks & canapés, and breakfast in the Executive Lounge.
The food options are varied from dish to dish, but not week-to-week. The spread is not very large, but it is filling and more or less healthy. The evening happy hours are from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm, but the hors-d’oeuvre are only from 5.30 pm to 7:30 pm. While the quantities may seem small but the portion sizes are perfect for dinner! The lounge crew was always bringing out fresh dishes and keeping the hot plates full.
The salad section has a delicious caesar salad which I can never get enough of! I generally try to stay away from red meat, but I enjoyed the well-made Braised Beef Cheeks. I would recommend the grilled chicken breast which balances the tomato sauce well with the tartness of the olives. Also, the mini vanilla eclairs were definitely worth the extra calories!
The alcoholic drink options are quite varied. You can choose from Bombay Sapphire gin, Dewar’s whiskey, various wines, Jimador tequila, prosecco, and vodka. They also had the bases for drinks like Negroni, Spritz, and Martinis. Their beer selection was limited to Corona, Budweiser or Heineken.
Breakfast at the Executive Lounge
For breakfast the next morning, I went to the executive lounge again. Although the food options were limited, I was quite happy with the options available. They had the usual offerings of oatmeal, steamed eggs, and baked beans. Additionally, the servers informed me that they also offered made-to-order eggs, bacon, waffles, and pancakes.
I highly recommend the egg omelette with za’atar and goats cheese. Paired with some pita bread, moutabal (smokey roasted eggplant with tahini), and fresh fruit my breakfast is complete. On days where I want to add a bit more substance to my meal, I especially like the veal and herb sausages. Also don’t miss their buttery, flaky croissants fresh from the kitchen.
Hotel Restaurants & Bar
The Marriott Downtown has an all-day dining option, a café, and a rooftop bar. Most notably, they are home to JW Steakhouse – and an award-winning restaurant with an excellent drinks menu – and Velocity – a sports bar. Marriott hotels are generally well-known for their steakhouses, and the one in the Marriott Downtown does not disappoint. Velocity, the sports bar, runs frequent promotions for happy hour and weekends, which is quite enticing in a place where alcohol can be a little expensive. Not only that, most of the restaurants and bars offer a 30% discount on food and beverages for guests of the hotel.
The hotel has not only a rooftop pool but a beautiful well-equipped gym. From jump ropes, vertical jump boxes, bosu balls, and foam rollers, the gym has it all. You’re not going to be left wanting. However, you could instead choose to pamper yourself at the Saray Spa or the beauty salon.
The hotel is a Category 4 hotel and quite popular during the week. Depending on how far in advance you book, the deluxe room with breakfast will set you back between AED 285 ($78) – AED 330 ($ USD). A reward night would cost upwards of 20,000 points/night.
The Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi is quite famous, mainly with business travellers due to its location. It was recently opened in 2016, so everything is in excellent condition. The staff is very friendly, and since we’ve been regulars, they remember our favourite drinks and even the way we like our morning coffee or eggs. With our elite membership, we get access to high-speed internet, with which I had no problems even when I was at the rooftop bar.
Finally, I appreciate that the hotel is not overcrowded and take pride in treating their elite guests well. For instance, a few months ago, on my husband’s birthday, which was middle of the week, the hotel sent pastries, cakes and yummy treats to the room! I think it helped take the edge off of working on his birthday.
Have you stayed at the Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi? What has been your experience with them?