Pulling up to the entrance of the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, I knew it was going to be something pretty special. A 34-story tower, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before – all gleaming glass panels adorned with colorful “baguettes” that help protect the building from the scorching sun whilst also representing the hues and undulations of the rolling desert dunes. Positioned right on the waterfront of Al Maryah Island, it exudes urban sophistication and serious class – clearly, the 12 years it has taken towards its opening were well worth the wait.
Stepping inside the sun-drenched lobby – with its soaring ceiling, cool marble floors, and bright floral bouquets adorning tables as far as the eye can see – I couldn’t help but say, “wow”. Everything about this hotel is designed to impress, but not in an over-the-top or ostentatious way. It’s classy, it’s cool, and it’s oh-so-chic. You’ll see quirky and modern artwork on the walls (there are over 2,000 pieces of locally and internationally sourced art throughout the hotel) and a whopping 42 different types of marble have been used throughout the property.
Although it has a cool and contemporary feel, General Manager Sam Ioannidis (whose passion for the property is apparent from the moment you meet him – and you most likely will as he aims to greet every guest personally) felt it important to incorporate the local community with the use of subtle Middle Eastern touches.
The droplights in the lobby are representative of the stars in the desert sky, while the Al Meylas is designed to represent a modern majlis, serving up an array of mezze and exotic ice cream flavors such as saffron crystals and camel milk. The lounge also showcases eight stunning scents from Tola Perfumery to encompass the region’s rich fragrance tradition and allows guests to really immerse themselves in an exotic experience.
The attention to detail is impossible to miss and, like the impeccable service, truly sets this hotel apart. Even the way the staff are dressed is elegant and chic, which is hardly surprising as their uniforms were designed by top fashion houses including Chanel and Ferragamo. It was refreshing to hear that each staff member got to contribute to the final design and was involved in the process, working together as a team to make themselves, and the property, the very best.
The light, neutral color palette continues into the 200 guestrooms, which are seriously sumptuous, regardless of which one you book into. Again, the little touches ensure maximum comfort – from the customizable mattress toppers to suit your nocturnal needs to the huge plasma TVs, loaded up iPads, and water views. I have to admit I was also pretty excited to discover that my vanity table was home to a salon-worthy hairdryer and my very own straightening iron. Serious #hotelgoals.
The bathrooms here feel like your very own spa, complete with a freestanding bath, in-mirror TV, marble counters, Ferragamo products, and probably the best amenity kits I’ve ever seen. Every little thing has been so well thought out that I wasn’t surprised to hear that Ioannidis himself was hands-on with the design of every room, even making sure that you have the best possible view when you’re in the bath – and you’re not looking at the underneath side of the bathroom sink. One can only imagine how decadent the ‘Specialty Suites’ would be…
For those who can’t turn down a little pampering (but who would?), the Dahlia Spa ticks all the beauty boxes. As luxurious as it is cozy and intimate, it’s a haven away from the hustle and bustle that you’ll never want to leave. There are eight seriously spacious treatment rooms and a gorgeous couple’s suite.
Complete with a steam room, heated hydro room, breathtaking hammam chamber, and ice fountain, the spa boasts stunning views out across the Arabian Gulf. Just five minutes of switching off on one of the insanely comfortable heated lounge beds in the relaxation room, and you’ll leave feeling like a new person.
But the ultimate way to spoil yourself has to be with one of the spa’s incredible treatments. There’s everything from three-hour spa journeys and jetlag-recovery experiences to hot-stone massages and jojoba-infused body scrubs. Not to mention some seriously skin-changing facials from natural brand Sodashi and anti-aging experts Swiss Perfection.
If you’re after a more unusual pampering experience, book in for the ‘Quartz Sand Experience’ – you won’t have experienced anything like it before. Based on the ancient Greek concept of psammotherapy, you’ll lie back on a heated table covered with alpha-quartz sand instead of being massaged on one of the spa’s sumptuous treatment beds, thereby helping alleviate aches and pains and promoting relaxation.
Dahlia Spa has also exclusively launched facial treatments from cult beauty brand Biologique Recherche, which counts celebs like Kate Winslet and Madonna as fans. Based on a clinical approach to beauty, its innovative facial treatments guarantee results from the get-go, so if your skin is in need of some serious TLC, these are for you.
This is also the place for foodies, with six food and beverage outlets serving up delicious delights that, alone, make worth the journey to Abu Dhabi worthwhile. Craving creamy pasta mixed into a giant wheel of Parmesan at your table? Then check out Café Milano, an award-winning Italian restaurant whose Washington DC sister is a favorite of royalty, celebrities, and high-profile politicians. The huge outdoor terrace, fashion-centric artwork, and sophisticated style transports you straight to the southern coast of Italy as you dine on fresh seafood and homemade ravioli.
If you’re feeling a little more carnivorous, opt for a juicy steak with a side of lobster mac and cheese at Butcher & Still – hands down, the coolest steakhouse I’ve ever seen. The décor is inspired by 1920s Chicago and the prohibition era, so think: soft leather booths and rich wooden floors. Even the bathrooms deserve their own Instagram page, with their elaborate tiling, vintage fittings, old-school magazine prints, and walls adorned with actual Afghan bullet casings. Each little detail has been perfectly placed to make you feel like you’re in Al Capone’s barbershop.
If you really want an experience like no other, make your way down the secret elevator to find yourself in a hidden underground dining room – your very own private speakeasy. Words can’t do this spectacular space justice, but I’ll try. With nods to Capone including a sumptuous seating area inspired by his car, hats and fur coats draped over the chairs, and hidden panels in the walls that reveal his secret treasures, this is the ultimate private-dining destination.
The incredible food at Butcher & Still is just the proverbial cherry on top, as it’s all about melt-in-your-mouth meats, freshly shucked oysters from the oyster bar, cheesy corn, and world-famous desserts that include the ‘Tribune Tower Chocolate Cake’ – 34 layers of rich chocolate cake and ganache that celebrate Chicago’s Tribune Towers and its 34 floors. Even the brioche bread you get at the start of the meal is sublime, and the mini meat-cleaver knives add an element of fun to your overall experience. One piece of advice? Arrive hungry.
Scoffing and spa-ing aside, the Four Seasons offers everything you could possibly want out of your city break. It’s linked directly to the luxurious Galleria Mall should you want to shop that latest designer gear, while its pool boasts amazing views over the city skyline and loungers as comfortable as your bed. There’s also a state-of-the-art women’s-only fitness center.
Whatever you decide to do during your stay, the fervor and dedication of the exceptional staff – each of whom has been handpicked by Ioannidis and his team — will be apparent. From the moment you check in to when it’s time to leave, you’re made to feel that everything has been done for you, and you only.
You’re even sent off with a bag of sweet treats to help soften the blow of returning to reality.
For more information and to book your stay at the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, click here or call (+971) 2 333 2222.