It is most unusual for me to select two different hotels in one city let alone for just a three night break. I am not one of life’s hotel hoppers but my Mother probably summed it up best when she said in horror, “You’re going to the Middle East – in May?!” What she was insinuating, sharply, was the moment of madness that must have presumably engulfed me to have arranged a visit at this time of year to a part of the world, renowned for its unbearably high temperatures.Had I forgotten the lethargy I suffered as a child in those temperatures in Saudi Arabia, where she would carry me up the two flights of stairs to our apartment, so floored was I by the heat? Had I forgotten the streaming nose bleeds I suffered when my capillaries dilated predictably, standing in the face of the scalding, summer sun. I suppose I had and when she reminded me, I realised that much of this trip would be spent indoors, just as much of my early childhood was during the summer months for similar reasons.
And thus, all of a sudden, the hotels became more important. Do we stay in the Corniche (rather like Abu Dhabi’s main strip) or venture instead to a hotel with more of a resort feel? In the end, I decided to do both and this was the absolute steal of a hotel we stayed in, right on the Corniche, proving that you can find affordable luxury accommodation in great locations with a bit of research!
The Southern Sun Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Tsogo Sun are the Africa-based management behind the high-rise Southern Sun Abu Dhabi and when you see what they’ve done with this bit of land here, I hope you’ll see how (at the time of publishing this post), they have managed to climb up into the Trip Advisor rankings to number 3 hotel in Abu Dhabi.
For starters, let’s walk into the seemingly never-ending plush, glassy lobby, where a cool flannel and welcome drink helped revive two flagging Brits!
After the two hour, water-less queue for immigration at Abu Dhabi airport, I cannot tell you what a joyous feeling of relief it was to be led out of the lift by the Southern Sun Hotel staff into our enormous sophisticated room and throw ourselves like weary tramps onto the flawlessly pressed, crisp, white linen.The bathroom was something I was rather curious to see, as I had heard a lot about this. As you can see, there is a textured glass screen separating the sink and bathtub area from the main bedroom. A similar surface is seen on the shower cubicle door but worry not, the toilet is well and truly private (as it always should be in my opinion!) If this is a little too caring and sharing for you, some guests have requested the hotel to put up a shower curtain, which I believe they are quite happy to do. From a purely design and aesthetic point of view, I found it quite novel but it’s perhaps not a set up you would embrace if you were bunking in with your parents!
We checked in at approximately 10pm and were quite concerned that by the time we freshened up, it would be too late to dine in any of the hotel restaurants but they had no hesitation in welcoming us to their dimly lit Middle Eastern (and sushi!) restaurant as I was craving the local cuisine. The lobster kibbeh was an indulgent first foray into our trip but unfortunately, I haven’t got a photograph of its colourful interior, which was far more photogenic than the exterior, as I was starving and ate the whole lot before I remembered!With breakfast taking place in the glamorous interiors of their award-winning steak restaurant and underneath the pearl-like linear decorations suspended from the high ceilings, even my bowl of porridge and fresh fruit felt fanciful. Though in truth, with such an enormous choice available at the breakfast buffet including cooked breakfasts, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern and continental, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get up for another plate (or two.)Breakfast isn’t automatically included in room rates for a lot of Abu Dhabi hotels but I would highly recommend paying the extra to enjoy the huge spread here.
For the lay folk among us (and I certainly never claim to be an authority figure on this), the mind boggles as to how hotel star ratings are generated. After our speedy and efficient checkout, I sat there wondering how on earth this could possibly not be a 5 star hotel, even when comparing it to several other 5 star hotels I have stayed in and reading the reviews, it seems many others have left with a similar verdict.
If you have ever have discounted a destination like Abu Dhabi on the premise of accommodation costs for example, it is worth taking a look at the Southern Sun for an affordable luxury experience at suprisingly reasonable prices and if you have a glimpse at sites like hotels.com and booking.com you may find rooms starting from as little as £55-£60 per night.
Disclaimer: We received reduced media rates for review purposes but I am opinionated little lady (particularly when I arrive at a hotel tired and hungry) and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.