Once upon a time, not very long ago – well, in 2011 to be exact – a glorious jewel box of a luxury hotel opened in Abu Dhabi. Look at one of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers‘ elevator cabins, above: all elevators are clad, completely, in the most gorgeous Brazilian marble that would look garish and brash everywhere else but here looks just lovely. The gal, whose jacket deliberately matched the elevators, walked across the soaring marble lobby, with its six giant Lasvit chandelier balls overhead, and into one of the elevators: first time, you need to be shown how to make them work, by pressing five and then eight, say, for floor 58 (and, somewhat confusingly, P3M for the gym). And then you rise, up to your floor, and, the higher you go, the more spectacular the view, both down to Emirates Palace and also to new palatial construction.
You soon get used not only to the elevator mechanics but to being surrounded by so much opulence, and such fabulous flower displays. The 382-room hotel, run by Stefan Fuchs who fortunately for luxury travel decided that continuing with law back in his native Germany was just too all-round boring, offers a mass of dining possibilities. I know that some travellers eat in their hotel only at breakfast, but let me tell you that here, in Rosewater, the buffet is surely one of the world’s best – where else is there a whole wall of breads, with each of 41 wall-set bins displaying a different bread loaf, or petit pain, or Arab bread or croissant and so on? See the video below.
Main meals are pretty memorable too, especially if you dine outside on the terrace, which is possible almost year-round. If you want Lebanese mezze, fine, it is here. Try a Jumeirah salad, for good health. The Bice menu has been tweaked a little by the former lawyer, and it now has all kinds of healthy things, like gorgeous burrata, here presented with strips of artichoke. Wherever you are, however, it is hard to avoid being at least offered gin. Room 5809, indeed, even had its own gin tray waiting, with a bottle of Brockmans, and 1724 tonics – the lawyer obviously wants the best, I surmise, and this is indeed what happens. Down at Bice, the mixologist made two perfect G&Ts, in stemmed balloon glasses, with lots of ice, and strips of cucumber and olives.
Would I like another one? Yes, but enough is as good as a feast and in honour of our Italian meal – I chose the veal milanese, with tomatoes and ruccola – we had, instead, a glass each of Villa Toscana 2012. After an initial toast, the German boss of this luxury Emirati hotel shared one of his many goals. He wants local and expat ladies to feel that spending an overnight here instead of investing the money in another pair of (French) Louboutins is indeed money well spent. I hid my (English) Stella McCartney trainers under the table, later went back up (5 + 8) to the 58th floor and had an excellent night’s sleep, followed by thorough Technogym workout (the gym opens 5.30), all ready for that scrumptious breakfast. And after that, to business-as-always: two days ago Jumeirah at Etihad Towers was deemed Business Traveller’s best business hotel in the whole of the Middle East.