This is my review of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi hotel.
Last time I was in Abu Dhabi I had a very pleasant time at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers which I reviewed here. This was going to be a little different.
I was unlikely to get to the hotel before 2am and I needed to be back at the airport for around 5pm. A guarantee late check-out was therefore top of my list and this is a benefit of the InterContinental Ambassador programme which I discuss here.
I could also have got a guaranteed 4pm check-out by using American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (an Amex Platinum benefit) to book at one of their participating properties. However, since I also wanted to trigger my 80,000 bonus points from IHG’s Accelerate promotion, the InterContinental Abu Dhabi (click here for the hotel home page) seemed the best choice.
Etihad gave me a free chauffeur drive as part of my redemption so that was quickly sorted.
Things started to go wrong on arrival, with no-one on the door. It clearly wasn’t beyond me to open the hotel doors and find the reception desk but it wasn’t a good start. (I could make my own bed as well if necessary but, to be frank, I prefer not to in a hotel!)
Check-in was enthusiastic, I couldn’t fault that.
We then got to my ‘guaranteed’ Ambassador upgrade. I had been upgraded to a room on the Club Lounge Floor. Except, erm, I wasn’t allowed to use the lounge.
So, erm, what benefits exactly did I get from this? Tricky one. To be honest, it wasn’t clear. Perhaps you don’t get a bathrobe in the standard rooms – that is often the only difference between an executive room and a standard one, bar the lounge access!
In practical terms, it made no difference. It was 2am and I wasn’t going to be around much.
Here are a couple of shots of my room. It was perfectly acceptable although it had not been refurbished for a while.
Next morning, however, I DID get annoyed when I headed down to breakfast. In what is theoretically a major business hotel, you expect certain things. You expect, for example, to head downstairs and be met with a relatively calm dining room where you can eat, perhaps catch up with a newspaper and – if on business – prepare yourself for the meetings or negotiations ahead.
What I didn’t expect was to find 200 package tourists in the breakfast room, taking every available seat and creating substantial backlogs for food.
It seems, with Abu Dhabi suffering from an over-supply of high end rooms, that the InterCon has plunged downmarket. I should have seen this coming, to be honest, since a week earlier I had actually spoken to someone who had just returned from a holiday in Abu Dhabi – staying at the InterCon!
The hotel appears to be dumping its rooms in the package holiday market. What this meant, in reality, is that I was one of only a handful of people in the hotel paying the advertised rate! And I still got a rubbish upgrade.
I was even more annoyed that they had refused me Club access, since that would have been an easy way to keeping genuine business travellers away from the package tour hoards.
After breakfast, with a couple of hours to spare after catching up with HFP developments, I walked over to the beach. This was quite impressive.
You need to take a 3-4 minute stroll along the marina to get to the hotel beach club. Once there – and access is free to guests – you will find a couple of family-friendly pools, two restaurants, a gym and a beach with more than enough sun loungers. The effect is spoiled by the view from the beach – it is not open sea as there is a man-made spit of land about 200 feet ahead of you which looks like it will soon be developed – but for a city hotel it is not bad.
For a family, it is a better option than Jumeirah – although that is a classier option overall, and their beach is directly outside the hotel. I should also mention that the InterCon has an additional outdoor pool in the main hotel if you don’t want to walk to the beach club.
I was in the beach club for a couple of hours, which included a painfully slow restaurant lunch despite a very small number of customers. At 4pm I checked out and headed back to Abu Dhabi airport for my Qatar Airways First Class flight to Doha.
Can I recommend the InterContinental Abu Dhabi? Not really. If you want a business hotel, you will be substantially happier at the Jumeirah. If you want a resort for a family holiday, there are resort hotels on Yas or Saadiyat Island that will serve you better. It might work for you if you are on business but you know you will have a lot of down time, as the beach club has more options than the Jumeirah beach and pool area. Apart from that, though, I see no real reason to return.
You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the InterContinental website.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)