Review: Hilton Abu Dhabi

Recently, my husband and I spent a few nights at the Hilton Abu Dhabi. Normally, we stay at the Marriott Abu Dhabi Downtown, which suits our needs, but we needed to maintain the Hilton Honors Diamond status through to 2019. That’s where the Hilton Abu Dhabi came in.

Although well suited for a family vacation, this hotel wouldn’t be my first choice of hotel in Abu Dhabi for business or pleasure. Read on to find out why.

Overview

The Hilton is well situated on the Corniche, the beach, and around 36 km away from the Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). It’s centrally located near all major restaurants, malls and offices. For those wanting a quick shopping trip, the hotel is a short 4-minute cab ride to the Marina Mall. Technically on the Corniche, the hotel is split into two parts: the Hiltonia Beach Club on the beach and rest of the hotel across the street.

Let’s take a little walk into history here. The Hilton Abu Dhabi was Abu Dhabi’s first five star hotel and opened 45 years ago by Sheikh Zayed himself. The hotel went through a renovation in 1994 when it added the Hiltonia Beach Club, and another renovation in 2015 for the rooms. Currently, the hotel boasts 154 rooms, 38 suites and 135 executive rooms. With 8 restaurants, a jazz bar and a nightclub, there is no dearth of evening entertainment options. In addition to this, the Hiltonia Beach Club and Spa gives you access to an amazing gym, 3 swimming pools, a water slide and a private beach.

The first impression upon entering the hotel is of grandeur. With a big chandelier and a grand staircase leading up to the mezzanine level, the hotel is definitely not gunning for subtle. The reception area is spread out over the large ground floor, but the overall arrangement confused me slightly. At first, I passed the guest services desk, then the concierge desk, then the activities desk and finally at the end of a hallway, was the check-in/reception desk. It seemed a little counter-intuitive to me. However, the staff was very helpful and check-in was done in no time.

Hilton Abu Dhabi reception

Hilton Abu Dhabi – lobby area

Hilton Abu Dhabi welcome

Hilton Abu Dhabi – lobby area

Hilton Abu Dhabi kids

Hilton Abu Dhabi – My Little Hilton Check-in for kids to get special goodie bags.

Hilton Abu Dhabi cafe

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Cafe

Hilton Abu Dhabi lobby

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Lobby

Hilton Abu Dhabi stairway

Hilton Abu Dhabi – stairway

King Guest Room

As a Hilton Hhonours Diamond member, the hotel had upgraded us to a King Guest Room with a sea view. Stepping out of the elevator on the 8th floor, the hallways gave me a bit of a cramped feeling. The ceilings were not low enough for me to touch but were low enough to make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

Hilton Abu Dhabi hallway

Hilton Abu Dhabi – hallway

The first thing I noticed was that the room was showing its age. Significantly smaller than other hotels, the room is compact, with a small window that does a great injustice to the view of the Arabian Gulf. Mirrors were lined on the walls to give the illusion of a bigger space.

Hilton Abu Dhabi king room

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King Room

Every feature of the room stemmed from the age of the hotel and the lack of space – the tea/coffee tray was placed on a small table in the sitting area, the power outlets were only on one side of the bed etc. Frankly, I was a bit surprised and disappointed that this was a room that we were upgraded to and for which they charge an extra 20% from the base room with a city view. A colleague was in the guest room with city view and told us the only difference between the rooms was the mirrors on the wall and the view.

Hilton Abu Dhabi room bed

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room with city view

Hilton Abu Dhabi desk

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room desk

Hilton Abu Dhabi room seating

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room sitting area

Hilton Abu Dhabi seating area

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room seating area with tea and coffee tray

Hilton Abu Dhabi closet

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room closet at entry to the right with the usual robe, iron, ironing board, safe etc.

Hilton Abu Dhabi view

Hilton Abu Dhabi – View from the King room

The welcome gift was a selection of savoury mezze (olive tapenade, hummus, cheese etc.) and a chocolate in the shape of a key. Unfortunately, they cleared the plate the next morning before we had a chance to have more than a nibble.

Hilton Abu Dhabi diamond

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Hilton Honors Diamond Welcome Amenity

The bathroom did not escape the grip of old age either. The tile grout was peeling in places and the tub had slightly noticeable stains on the bottom. As expected, it was cramped but had the usual Peter Roth amenities, like all Hilton Hotels, available for use.

Hilton Abu Dhabi bathroom

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King Room bathroom

Hilton Abu Dhabi amenities

Hilton Abu Dhabi – bathroom amenities

Hilton Abu Dhabi bathtub

Hilton Abu Dhabi – King room bathroom, bathtub area showing wear.

Executive Lounge

With Hilton Honors Diamond status, we had access to the Executive Lounge on the 10th floor. Distinctly different from the rest of the hotel, the lounge was sleek and modern with a lovely view of the Gulf. For the number of guests at the hotel, I would have thought that the lounge would be a little too small to accommodate those who had access. However, there were plenty of tables available with an interesting selection of food. I noticed one difference between this Hilton Hotel and the others that I have stayed at. The alcoholic beverages were not on display and I had to ask a member of staff for the options, which were quite limited. Between beer, wine and a couple of other options, there wasn’t much available.

Hilton Abu Dhabi Executive Lounge

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Executive Lounge lobby

Hilton Abu Dhabi Executive Lounge entry

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Executive Lounge entrance

Hilton Abu Dhabi Executive Lounge seating

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Executive Lounge seating

Hilton Abu Dhabi executive lounge decor

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Executive Lounge decor

Food, on the other hand, was good. In spite of the small, and somewhat unhealthy & greasy, spread, I was able to sample some canapés that were quite moreish. I would recommend the Salmon Mousse on toast and the Artichoke Puree. The spring rolls and the sausage rolls were a pass for me. The desserts were the standout items with cherry tarts and chocolate mousse tarts. Here are some pictures!

The Sausage Puff. A little heavy on the puff pastry for my liking, but was filling.

Hilton Abu Dhabi EL food

Hilton Abu Dhabi

The greasiness of the spring rolls overpowered the taste of the filling.

Hilton Abu Dhabi Executive Lounge food roll

Hilton Abu Dhabi

One of my favourites that evening, the Smoked Salmon Mousse. Would highly recommend it.

Hilton Abu Dhabi EL food salmon

Hilton Abu Dhabi

Another great find for me was the Artichoke Puree/Paste. Great with toast or even with chips!

Hilton Abu Dhabi EL food artichoke

Hilton Abu Dhabi

Hilton Abu Dhabi 

Hilton Abu Dhabi

The desserts were spectacular. They flew right off the shelf

Hilton Abu Dhabi 

Hilton Abu Dhabi

More desserts! The cherry crumble tart was standout

Hilton Abu Dhabi executive lounge desserts

Hilton Abu Dhabi

Hiltonia Beach Club & Spa

The one redeeming feature of the hotel is the Hiltonia Beach Club and Spa. The gym was big with updated equipment and big windows overlooking the pool/beach. The club also has 2 huge pools, a small waterpark feature for kids, a poolside bar, a health food kiosk and a spa. The private beach area was empty while I was there (peak of summer) The club offers water sports and other activities for adults and children. At the time that I was there, they were advertising a summer camp for kids with a daily rate of $57 (210 AED) and weekly rate of $255 (940 AED).

Hilton Abu Dhabi underpass

Hilton Abu Dhabi – the underpass to the Hiltonia Beach Club

Hilton Abu Dhabi underpass wall

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Mural on the walls of the underpass

Hilton Abu Dhabi beach club

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Hiltonia Beach Club entrance

Hilton Abu Dhabi beach

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Hiltonia Beach Club beach with ample sun chairs

Hilton Abu Dhabi baskin robbins

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Baskin Robbins kiosk on the premises for a quick cool down

Hilton Abu Dhabi pool bar

Hilton Abu Dhabi – poolside bar

Hilton Abu Dhabi pool

Hilton Abu Dhabi – One of the swimming pools

Hilton Abu Dhabi waterpark

Hilton Abu Dhabi – waterpark feature

Hilton Abu Dhabi beach lounge

Hilton Abu Dhabi – beach lounge area

Hilton Abu Dhabi group class

Hilton Abu Dhabi – group fitness classes are available if guests want to get in some yoga

Hilton Abu Dhabi gym space

Hilton Abu Dhabi – gym is quite large with space to use the machines or weights

Hilton Abu Dhabi green gym

Hilton Abu Dhabi – green initiative to reduce waste by reusing water cups at the gym

Hilton Abu Dhabi gym

Hilton Abu Dhabi – numerous machines available at the gym

Do keep in mind that the club is open for membership for non-guests of the hotel, so it can get pretty packed. However, that’s probably why the gym was so well maintained with one or two personal trainers on duty. Also, if you forget your Towel Card in your room, they’ll make noises about giving you a towel without it. I guess they may have had some issues in the past with people walking off with their towels. The biggest drawback is the location. A guest will have to exit the hotel, walk through the underpass and walk through the parking to the entrance of the club. It doesn’t seem like much unless you’re doing it in 45˚ heat and just want to grab a quick workout.

Hilton Abu Dhabi underpass

Hilton Abu Dhabi – the two circular concrete structures are the entrance to the underpass across the main road

Breakfast at La Terrazza

I chose not to have breakfast in the Executive Lounge, but to head down to the larger breakfast offering in the all-day dining restaurant La Terrazza on the mezzanine level. The options were varied with an array of continental, Indian and Arabic options. I’m always a fan of the Foul Mudammas for breakfast as it’s warm, filling and packed with nutrients. The pastry options were also hard to walk by.

Hilton Abu Dhabi La Terrazza

Hilton Abu Dhabi – La Terrazza at the mezzanine level serves breakfast as well as all-day dining.

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast salad

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast Salad Bar

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast tea

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Tea selection with mint, ginger and lemon garnishes

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast fruits

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, fresh cut fruits

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast juices

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, freshly squeezed juices and yogurts

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast ham

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, ham & cheese station

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast bakery

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Bakery and Pastries section

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast waffles

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Waffles station

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, pancakes

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast eggs

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast eggs station

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast sausages

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Veal and Chicken Sausages

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast Foul

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Foul Muddamas to be eaten with accompaniments

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast fouls

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Foul Mudammas accompaniments

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast Idli

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Idli & Sambhar

Hilton Abu Dhabi breakfast toast

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, French Toast

Hilton Abu Dhabi Breakfast mushroom

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Breakfast, Grilled Button Mushrooms and Sautéed Spinach

Other Amenities

The hotel hosts a number of restaurants and bars that I have frequented as a non-guest. My personal favourites are the jazz bar with live music and a great ladies night and Toki for authentic Japanese food.

There is a spa in the Hiltonia Beach club, which I didn’t use, but had reasonable rates for treatments in a calming ambience.

Hilton Abu Dhabi spa

Hilton Abu Dhabi – Hilton Spa

Wallet Effect

A King room with city view will range from approximately $60 (221 AED) to $101 (371 AED) with reward nights starting from 18,000 Hilton Honors points. If you want a Sea View, the rate starts from $70 (258 AED) to $116 (427 AED) with reward nights starting from 21000 points.

Bottom Line

As I mentioned earlier, the Hilton Abu Dhabi would not be my first choice whether it be for a family holiday or for a short work trip. At the same price point, I would rather stay at the nearby Le Meridien, Intercontinental, Sheraton or the Beach Rotana for a better experience and room quality. The advantages of the Hiltonia Beach Club could not overshadow the cramped rooms and limited views.

The Pros

+ Hiltonia Beach Club
+ Family-friendly activities
+ Location
+ Breakfast spread
Friendly & helpful staff

The Cons

- Compact rooms
- Bathrooms show signs of wear and age

Rating

Comments

  1. Great site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours
    nowadays. I really appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!

  2. Nice to read. Didnt know this was the first 5 star in Abu Dhabi. Re the location of the check in counter, they probably have the concierge and activities desks closer to the entrance so that guests can quickly drop in on their way out of the hotel.
    It also helps to have reception as secluded as possible, not for a luxury feel, but to allow for shouting guests to be out of the main thoroughfare.

  3. As you wrote, it’s a very!!!! old hotel and building. Since my first visit there in 1993, the hotel building has NOT changed and that counts for the room size as well. It’s from the 70’s! Back then it was THE hotel next to some other that are not worth mentioning.
    The hotel is fine for what it is and the rooms at the Sheraton are not that much bigger either and as you might know, big windows in the rooms heat up the room unnecessary, therefore small windows only!
    The service offered, all fine!
    I guess for some spoiled US travelers it means a change in finding it different to some old!!!! US hotels that are probably charging 5x the rates from Abu Dhabi (for no to maybe little service), so therefore the Hilton Abu Dhabi is all good!
    20 years ago, the Hiltonia Beach Club was a 1 and only in town, and the streets were there first, so in order to get beach access, it had to be a bridge or an underpass. Of course, tough for Americans to do the “walking” without any ceddy taking you there or a taxi like it would be the case at home, but i know, it is a good hotel for it’s age!
    Diamond Members get an upgrade as per rule and the Lounge access or full breakfast downstairs which is plenty to chose from and wayyyyyyy more then ANY US resort would offer to Diamond Guests! Keep that in mind.
    Some frequent travelers keep forgetting that they are in a Muslim Country, so the Liquer in the Lounge without the display has it’s good reason as i saw it myself way too often, how people just waste if it’s free.
    It does NOT say open Bar, but they do offer Spirits, Wine and Beer just not as an open Bar! All good that way.
    Different, but it’s all available.
    Different Country, different culture, but i’m glad they got a culture in the UAE, unlike some other countries.

    • @Steffl, thanks for your insights. For us in Asia, including Rohini who lives in the Middle East itself, we feel that this is a dated hotel. Having spent a lot of nights at this hotel and others in the vicinity, she does have her context set right. Also, no point comparing this to the USA. Middle East hotels, especially on the higher end, are well kept. As the flagship of the Hilton chain would have expected them to be much better than they are.

  4. Really I don’t mean this to be snide…I hope this comment will be helpful for the future. . It should be ….my husband and I…

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