Mrs Gist and I have been fortunate to have stayed in some beautiful hotels and resorts around the world, from our honeymoon in Mexico to the odd business trip or sneaky pre-children holiday. We do favour luxury properties and resorts as we find these most comfortable, personable and attentive, not to mention great for food and the odd holiday cocktail… or two.
Deciding that I needed a little winter sun (ahead of my recent family trip to Centre Parcs), I booked an impromptu trip to Abu Dhabi with my father for a bit of father-son time at the Abu Dhabi Formula One, looking forward to relaxing break to unwind and get away from the stresses of my 9-5 in The City. As a discerning traveler, I had high hopes for the Sofitel Corniche Abu Dhabi.
Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche Review
Location of the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
Conveniently located on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Road, there’s plenty of nearby restaurants and small cafés lining the popular seafront, a mere ten-minute walk from the capital’s popular Corniche promenade. A twenty-minute taxi trip puts attractions such as the notorious Yas Marina race circuit, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi Mall and recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi all within reach. If you’re wanting to use the hotel as a base to explore Abu Dhabi, you can’t really go wrong.
Sofitel French style and character
The Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is beautifully decorated, the brand’s French heritage shown through the monochrome and art-deco aesthetic throughout that exudes Gallic elegance and a premium feel, right from the glistening lobby to the hotel’s rooms and suites.
My favourite item was the gorgeous chandelier in the main reception, styled to represent jellyfish as found in the local waters around the Corniche; I really like it when a hotel takes style inspiration from its surroundings and localises to the landscape.
In an age of bland and soulless hotel interior design, the contemporary and striking use of black, white and cream, partnered with bold calligraphic artwork scattered around the public areas of the hotel certainly makes it a charming place to be.
Whilst I love the Sofitel’s internal elegance, my personal view is that the real hallmark and distinguishing feature of a hotel or resort, particularly luxury, is its customer-facing service experience. I’m pleased to say that this was exemplary; despite a lengthy wait at check-in owing to the arrival of several long-haul flights in the early hours, the interactions I had with staff throughout were courteous, attentive and personable. The team took time to ask about my stay, our intentions over the week and whether we needed any assistance.
There were plenty of small touches throughout that felt unique and personal, including a handwritten welcome note, fruity refreshments in our room upon arrival and even a specially made chocolate race car that had been made one evening after the hotel had heard of our trip to the Formula One. No request was ever too much and service was always delivered with a smile. Top marks and true five-star service, without a doubt.
Our room was simply stunning; breathtaking sweeping views over the Gulf greeted us each morning, the beds firm but very comfortable and plenty of floor space provided to give an open and airy feel. It was spotless, cleaned and presented to a very high standard.
A Bose sound system and Nespresso machine were just some of the premium additions that really made the room feel five-star, however it was the bathroom that really was the hallmark of the stay; separated by a sliding door, this featured a refreshing and powerful rainfall shower, Lanvin premium toiletries, ceiling speakers and a large bathtub that looked hugely inviting.
Impressive and a really comfortable room. Ballin’.
Facilities at the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
Predominantly a business hotel rather than a resort, the Sofitel Abu Dhabi caters for the business traveler with meeting rooms, business centre and huge ballroom with conferencing facilities; the in-room Wi-Fi was also a welcome and reliable addition.
However, as a leisure guest, we very much enjoyed making use of both rooftop pools, one in the shade, the other getting approximately 4-5 hours of sunshine during the day. There was always plenty of seating and sunbeds, with pool-side snacks and drinks available from the bar.
I even made use of the gym (I know, on my actual holiday!); decked out in the latest Technofit machinery, there was everything you would need for a light or intense workout, including an array of weights. Long opening hours allow guests to visit at a time that best suits them.
The Sofitel’s SoSpa is also a hugely welcome place to unwind, the thirty-minute deep tissue massage I opted for was absolutely blissful, especially after a particularly uncomfortable flight over from London. I couldn’t rate this more.
The Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche offers plenty in the way of dining options; Parmigiana is the jewel in the crown of the Sofitel’s dining selection, the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant, providing (reasonably) authentic Italian dishes without breaking the bank.
Alternative options include a Lebanese eatery (the mixed grill here was sublime), café and poolside bar, not to mention an all-day restaurant on the ground floor, doubling up as the breakfast venue; £14pp buys access to waffle stations, eggs cooekd fresh to order, Arabic traditional breakfast items, breads, fruits, juices and the usual cooked western cooked breakfast fare, less the pork bacon. Not the perhaps the cheapest of breakfast options, however a fantastic array of tasty and fresh items await guests.
There’s also a cocktail bar, Jazz & Fizz, on the 36th and 37th floors, great for a late evening cocktail with stunning views across the Corniche. The cocktail menu is perhaps a little limited and not particularly as fresh I might have liked, but my off-menu dirty martini was delicious and I enjoyed spending time up here – although guests should be warned that smoking in here is permitted, so the smell of cigars may spoil your time here if you’re sensitive to this.
In short, the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is a beautiful hotel with great facilities; the rooms are plush and offer a superb level of finish, the atmosphere of French-elegance is calming and the hotel is conveniently located to explore the sights and sounds of Abu Dhabi.
It isn’t cheap, but given it is orientated towards businesses clientele, it does fare cheaper than comparable five-star touristy and leisure-focused hotels. For that, I consider it great value for money.
However, the primary advantage of the Sofitel is its customer service, it’s people always courteous, professional and evidently passionate about both the brand and hotel. I really enjoyed my stay here, the personable and attentive service being something I certainly won’t forget in a hurry. Every guest matters and the people of the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche really get that.
Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche Hotel
Capital Plaza Complex, Corniche Road East, Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates.