The riotously colourful flower arrangements – changed every day, of course, and always using seasonal blooms – are among the first things you notice. Then there’s a long “catwalk” that stretches as if from one end of the hotel to the other, which, as I’ve just arrived straight from fashion week, makes me truly happy.
Opened a little over 18 months ago and already the choice of royalty, celebrities and business leaders, the 200-room hotel is 30 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport. It’s situated on Al Maryah Island, the city’s burgeoning financial and lifestyle hub and one of some 200 islands in the emirate. Crucially for shopaholic visitors like myself, it’s also joined to The Galleria, a luxury mall housing designer boutiques and restaurants, which can be accessed from the hotel without ever stepping out into the fierce desert heat.
I’m spending the weekend here on my way back from Europe to Hong Kong, and as a halfway house my accommodation could hardly be more perfect. I’m being spoilt rotten by the warm and helpful staff, for whom making my stay a memorable one seems to be their main mission in life.
The floor-to-ceiling windows in my room offer such breathtaking views of the surrounding buildings over the water that it’s hard to tear my gaze away from them – but in those moments when I am able to, the fabulously vast and comfortable bed is exactly what sweet dreams are made of. As even the pillows have just the right amount of fluff, it’s all too easy copping some much-needed zzzzzs whenever it’s time to
And then there’s the bathroom, complete with marble floor and Ferragamo toiletries, which is pretty fabulous too. A gang of girls getting ready for a night out could all fit in there easily – no space issues at all.
As for sustenance, there’s round-the-clock in-room dining, and as there are also six exquisite restaurants within the hotel there’s something for pretty much everyone. Plus, as all these spots have terraces, there’s a marvellous view to ogle pretty much everywhere you go.
The fashion set should especially enjoy Cafe Milano (despite the name and stylish Milanese decor, it features a take on Italian southern coastal cuisine) for the Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Versace wall posters and street-style photos snapped during the city’s fashion weeks. During my visit I order from the brunch menu: poached egg with Parmigiano sauce as an antipasto and grilled lamb rack with garlic sauce for my main course both go down a treat.
Another food favourite is the first-floor Crust, described as a market-themed neighbourhood restaurant. As they say on Instagram, the place gives off some seriously #goodvibes, and when I arrive for Friday brunch it’s buzzing happily, as waiters circulate with carts piled high with Middle Eastern, Western and Asian specialities that aren’t featured on the international buffet – and “yes” is what I say to practically everything that comes my way. Crust’s breakfast is a must, too, though as by now I’m probably giving the impression that all I did at the Four Seasons was eat, I’d best not go into that.
(I should, however, give a name check to the Al Meylas lobby lounge, whose heavenly lattes, cosy sofas and stunning sea view made this my go-to zone for hanging out, relaxing and people watching. The Arabic name translates to “gathering place”, which could hardly be more fitting.) Those craving hearty meats, delicious sides and 1920s-style experience, should make a reservation at Butcher & Still, the lively Chicago Steakhouse. Truffle fries with Béarnaise sauce, anyone?
I’m having such a good time, in fact, that I’m already thinking about my next visit. So what’s on the checklist for round two? Cocktails at Zsa Zsa (a bar named after the actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor), a pampering session at Dahlia Spa, and perhaps a few laps of the outdoor pool. I also plan to linger long enough to check out the DJ at Eclipse Terrace Lounge.
The more perceptive among you will observe I’ve made no mention of the hotel’s fitness centre, which I admit I’ve studiously avoided up to now. Something tells me that with all this gourmandising, I’ll definitely need to squeeze in some exercise next time around.