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Our score: 4.7/5.0

The St Regis Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi

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Diana Cherry Avatar for Diana Cherry

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Daily breakfast for two
Buffet breakfast served in Olea Restaurant
Room upgrade upon arrival
Subject to availability
Hotel credit
US$100 or equivalent to be used in the restaurants or Spa (one credit per stay)
Early check-in / Late check-out
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Complimentary Wi-Fi

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  • Detailed Review +
  • Facts & Amenities +
Baring All
  • Bring your gym kit – the fitness facility here is one of the best I’ve seen
  • It’s tempting not to leave the hotel complex but the new Louvre is just minutes away
  • Fans of boutique hotels or minimalist interiors may find this hotel a little too generic, but it scores highly for comfort and facilities
  • Joining the relevant loyalty programme for this hotel could get you some good savings and access to exclusive offers
Arrival experience

As I pulled up outside the hotel, my first impression was of a large resort hotel – a slick, efficient operation and a sparkling, impressive entrance area. I arrived mid-morning, before my room was ready, so I checked in quickly and efficiently at one of the reception tables, designed to feel a lot more relaxing and personal than a standard reception desk. I decided to leave my bags and head into town to do some shopping. Staff were very friendly, helpful and quick to arrange a taxi for me. The vehicle arrival area is run like a military operation – it’s that efficient.

Before I left, I booked a spa treatment for when I returned in the afternoon, and this was organised very efficiently. So I headed straight to the spa on my return, and my bags were waiting in my room for me when I arrived after my treatment.

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Rooms and suites

There is a huge choice of accommodation to suit all needs – again, something that ensures an appeal to families of various sizes and also to the local Emirati market, who spend a lot of time in their rooms, so size and in-room facilities are very high quality.

My room was, on first impression, fairly run of the mill but by the end of my stay I didn’t want to leave. At around 60sq m (646sq ft), it was spacious, and I had two large twin beds instead of one king. The layout was long and thin, with the wardrobe/desk area by the entrance and a balcony overlooking the resort, pools and beach – nothing very innovative. But it was immensely practical and user-friendly, with small details that made it welcoming. The beds, for example (always a highlight of any St Regis hotel), were the kind that only the promise of a delicious breakfast could prise me from. There was enough storage and hanging space for two people and a clever cupboard that opened to reveal a full-length mirror and a plug and storage for hairdryers and straighteners – a very clever use of space. The mini-bar was perfectly fine, with a standard Nespresso machine and a selection of tea, and there was plenty of complimentary mineral water.

The large TV had multi-language satellite channels and pay-per-view films, and wi-fi access was free and excellent.

The hotel describes its style as Mediterranean, which I didn’t entirely see, but the decor was certainly very different to the heavier, elaborate style often found in the Middle East. The use of light aqua, turquoise and gold colours worked well, and despite the rather mass-market (and sometimes questionable) choice of art throughout the hotel, the overall effect is luxurious, comfortable and relaxing. ‘Classic luxury’ sums it up well.

Other rooms and suites I saw were decorated in a very similar style but varied in size, or had more lounge furnishings than smaller rooms. Some are marketed with more of a sea view than others but in reality, all rooms face towards the sea and have a resort or beach view of some description.

All the room categories (Standard, Sea View and Premium Sea View) can be interconnected with a similar room.

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The bathroom

My bathroom was one of the reasons I loved my room. Not only was it spacious, light and beautifully designed, it was perfectly laid out, so a couple, family or friends would also find it practical. At one end was a large, egg-shaped bath, cleverly positioned so that you could bathe with a sea view, and then dual vanity units separated by the huge, walk-in rainforest shower, which could be accessed from both sides. On the other side of the shower was another vanity unit and private WC cubicle. The lighting was also very good, and there were gorgeous Laboratoire Remede toiletries. In short, the bathroom showed excellent attention to detail.

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Dining

The buffet breakfast served in Olea, the all-day restaurant, is very impressive. The restaurant itself is huge, light and open-plan, backing onto the lobby in a double-height atrium style, with grand staircase and views towards the pool and beach. It’s so big there’s a danger of feeling more like a canteen than a restaurant but it just about manages to stay on the right side of the industrial look. There is an outside seating area, which was lovely and comfortable, although a little hot and humid in the evenings during my stay, so it was nice to have an air-conditioned option inside as well. In the cooler months, however, I can imagine these tables are super-popular. The pastries and breads were particularly delicious, as were the local breakfast specialities and the amazing selection of fruits, juices and smoothies, with service relatively quick and efficient.

As I was on the half-board plan, I ate my evening meals in this restaurant too. I would have eaten elsewhere rather than compromise on choice or quality but the delicious food and variety in the evenings (a buffet with a different theme each night) was more than enough to keep me happy, and the Arabian specialities were especially good. However, there was always freshly grilled meat, cooked-to-order pasta, delicious fresh breads, a tremendous variety of salads and more. The variety of fish was also notable, and the general quality of cooking, especially on this scale, was excellent.

I ate lunch by the pool, where the menu was substantial. I had a delicious duck salad (and the chef was only too happy to swap the duck for chicken), and the ice cream, smoothies and iced coffees were all delicious.

I also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails and post-dinner drinks in The Manhattan Lounge – a sophisticated and comfortable bar frequented as much by locals as hotel guests. It has a gentleman’s club vibe rather than that of a buzzing bar, and the cocktails and nibbles were excellent.

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Other restaurant options

The variety of dining options here is impressive. Plus, there are many promotions and special events – as much to attract non-residents as to provide variety for hotel guests. I was tempted but refrained from attending the Noche en Argentina at 55th and 5th, the grill restaurant. The Fashion Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room, the lobby lounge area that provides all-day service of baked goods, teas and coffees, also sounded good.

I didn’t eat in Sontaya but many local friends assured me this is an Asian restaurant they especially enjoy, and I liked the location in the middle of one of the swimming pools. Meanwhile, Turquioz, the current beach bar/restaurant, is being transformed into Buddha Bar Beach Abu Dhabi, which many are looking forward to.

The Collection, part of the wider resort development village just outside the hotel, has various restaurants you can stroll to should you wish to try somewhere else. There is also a mini-mart to buy drinks and snacks especially useful for families.

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Spa and wellness

The Iridium Spa has nine treatment rooms, and like most other Middle Eastern examples has separate male and female changing areas, which also incorporate respective Jacuzzi, steam, sauna and hammam areas. The silver-leaf ceilings set off dramatic black chandeliers and intricate mosaic tiling. Everything is finished to a very high quality and gives the feeling of detachment from everyday life that a good spa should always achieve. I had a wonderful deep-tissue massage from a particularly talented and insightful therapist and had plenty of time to relax in both the Jacuzzi area and the supremely comfortable relaxation area afterwards, which was well stocked with current magazines, herbal teas and delicious snacks.

The Athletic Club, a truly impressive facility, is slightly away from the hotel in the resort development surrounding the back of the hotel. At over 3,000sq m (32,292sq ft), it’s vast, light, extremely well equipped and immaculate. It has a 25m indoor lap pool, a large high-tech gym, many group classes, highly qualified personal trainers, a fabulous juice bar and two squash courts. The Club also organises yoga on the beach and snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking and boogie boarding, plus tennis.

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Pool and beach

There are three large outdoor pools: the family pool (which has an upper and lower level), the adult pool and a lap pool. So not only can you relax in different areas but you should always be able to find somewhere that suits you, either in child-free peace or where it’s convenient and safe for families. I had a restful afternoon by the lower level of the family pool, where cabanas provide shade (all on a first come, first served basis). Alternatively, there were plenty of sun loungers all around, including floating ones on the adult pool, where there is great service (the cold, fresh coconuts were especially welcome). The outdoor areas of the pool are built largely around the restaurants and are very much the focal point of the hotel. It’s only a few steps down from here to the beach area, where there are many sun beds and parasols set out on the private strip.

This is an exceptional beach where the only development, at the moment, is the nearby Park Hyatt and you can walk or jog along the 9km of clean, soft sand, or swim in the shallow, safe and warm sea.

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Kids/teens facilities

As well as the very impressive Sandcastle Club, the main kids’ club, there are various other touches that make this a great option for families. These include various promotions, such as ‘kids eat for free’, a comprehensive kids’ menu and ‘sleep for free’ for under-sixes.

The Sandcastle Club has just undergone a recent refurbishment, and there is now a new outdoor mini-basketball court, new toys and games, and a new kitchen and dining area. This means that children can stay and eat rather than having to be picked up by adults to go and eat in the main hotel. Four- to 12-year-olds can be there without an accompanying adult, and the layout and impressive, spacious facilities encourage them to be as independent as possible and see it as their own space. The main indoor area is based on the idea of being in a cave, with different areas and facilities for various age groups, and the outdoor activity pool is also really impressive and almost all under a huge sunshade. Babysitters are available for the under-fours.

There are even activities that kids and teens can get involved with at the Athletic Centre – from swimming and tennis lessons to kayaking and boogie boarding.

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Staff and service

The St Regis butler service is a key part of the offering in any of its hotels – available to all guests and designed to set them apart from the competition. Your allocated butler will help with packing and unpacking, wake-up calls, morning coffee, pressing up to two pieces per day – and is your general main point of contact. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet my butler – possibly because I arrived in my room after check-in, which is the main point of contact. She did leave a note to make contact, but as my stay was relatively short, I didn’t require her help. The staff, in general, were friendly, helpful and professional.

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Guest profile

Of all guests, 95 per cent are on holiday, which helps the hotel to maintain its relaxed atmosphere.  However, 30 per cent of all guests are local, either Emiratis or expats, who tend to stay for weekends or short staycations, followed by similar numbers of UK and German guests, plus Swiss, Russians and Italians.

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Departure experience

The bill was settled quickly and accurately, and a taxi was ready and waiting, with bags brought from the room quickly and carefully. It’s worth joining the St Regis loyalty programme (currently the SPG programme but this could change now that owner Starwood is part of Marriott), as this does give some good discounts on your food and drink costs.

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General information

  • How to get there

    30 minutes by road transfer from Abu Dhabi International Airport

  • Accommodation

    376 rooms and suites

Amenities

  • Wi-Fi

    Wi-Fi

  • Swimming pool

    Swimming pool

  • Spa

    Spa

  • Gym

    Gym

  • Golf

    Golf

  • Tennis

    Tennis

  • Beach

    Beach

  • Watersports

    Watersports

  • Restaurants

    Restaurants

  • Kids Club

    Kids Club

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