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InterContinental Hotel - Abu Dhabi, UAE

Not up to InterContinental Standards


The InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi (according to their website) has a great quiet location with its very own white sandy beach and a beautiful marina. Coming from the airport, it takes about 40 minutes to get there by car, while the main business district and commercial centers takes only 10 minutes from the hotel. It is a popular choice for business people especially for those seeking the familiar Western comforts the InterContinental hotel chain consistently offers. One of the oldest hotels in Abu Dhabi, the InterContinental was recently renovated to capture the heart and spirit of the country in the modern times. With all this in mind, we knew the InterContinental Abu Dhabi was a luxury hotel we just has to experience for ourselves.

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First Impression/Lobby: My expectations for the hotel, the view of the sea, the sand, the boats and the sun were high. My high spirits were soon deflated a short while after getting out of the car. For some reason, their bellmen were not there to greet us and give us a warm welcome, a standard practice for five star luxury hotels. It took quite a while before they came to the car to assist us with our luggage, even though we were the only guests there for them to attend to. It seemed to me as if they lacked proper training to do their job properly and efficiently. When they did come to retrieve our bags, they were less-than-passionate about it and merely pointed us towards the lobby and front desk of the InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi.

The lobby, with its low ceiling and fully marbled floors, walls and pillars, was unimpressive. It looked more like the lobby of an office building than a luxury hotel with a beachfront. It lacked warmth, charm, and sophistication, and the little but pleasing details I expected from a luxury hotel like the InterContinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Reception: While the check in process was fairly quick, the attitude of the people behind the front desk was one of indifference. They were even more blasé than airport or banking personnel. I wondered, were they trained not to smile at the guests? This was quite abnormal reception from luxury hotel staff and from THE InterContinental nonetheless.

After we completed our check in we set off to find our room… on our own. They didn’t even bother to point us in the direction of the elevators. What a disappointment!

The Suite: We entered our suite and I had an ominous feeling that this was just the beginning of a series of unfortunate events at the InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi. We had booked a non-smoking room and this room undeniably reeked of freshly smoked cigarettes. The smell of smoke permeated the entire suite, including the bed, the pillows and the sheets. To top it off, the bathroom floor was sticky and dirty. It was enough to make us feel sick.

We called the front desk to be moved out of that hellhole and it took another 45 minutes for them to get the next room ready for us. We eventually ended up in a Club Sea View Suite, one of the most boring and ill-designed suites I have seen in a very long time.

The living room was poorly laid out with a ton of wasted space at the entrance of the room. The very tall bar had barstools that were too low so that when you sat on them, the bar comes almost up to your neck, making it very uncomfortable to hang around in. At night, the lighting in the living room was horrible. It was poorly illuminated. One light bulb over the bar was burned out, but even if it worked, I don’t think it would have made a big difference. Also, they used a bathroom garbage can in the living room at the desk, which was a bit unsightly.

The couch was upholstered in gaudy gold-green leather with equally tacky cushions and pillows. There was a big-screen TV, a working desk and a negligible view of the pool area and the marina. The sea view was dull and did nothing to compensate for the poorly decorated suite.

The bedroom had a king-sized bed covered with a cheap thin duvet and a built-in couch that was undesirably placed in one corner of the bedroom, making it pretty much unusable.

The bathroom was covered in marble and had a single sink, a private toilet stall, a very small shower stall, and a bathtub that stuck back in the corner and again, wasted a lot of precious space. The toilet was too close to the wall you almost had to sit sideways on it. Thankfully, the toiletries were luxuriously Elemis. Lastly, the guest bathroom located just off from the living room near the front door did not have hot water.

In two words, our suite was “not bombastic”!

Room Service: Their room service menu was varied and had pretty much anything you could want from local to international cuisine. We ordered pasta for dinner and it was delivered almost on time-five minutes late. The room service staff had a pleasing demeanor but still lacked warmth and enthusiasm for his job.

Housekeeping: Their housekeeping did turndown service at 4:30 in the afternoon, which was way too early. I don't know of any hotel that does turndown that early, five star or otherwise. The first time, it seemed they only considered one person when they were doing the turndown service, leaving only one bottle of water.

Before we left for dinner, we called housekeeping and asked them if they could do the turndown service again and this time to set it up for two people. We specifically requested that they leave two bottles of water. When we came back from dinner they still did turndown for just one person and did not leave any water.

Restaurant: There are seven restaurants and cafes in the vicinity: Belgian Café (a bar and café that also serves contemporary European dishes), Boccaccio (Italian restaurant), Chamas (American and Brazilian cuisine), Fishmarket (seafood), Luce (another Italian restaurant), Selections (international cuisine), and Yacht Club (international cuisine), as well as a piano lounge.

We had sandwiches at the pool restaurant, the taste and presentation of which was forgettable, and the service quite unimpressive. It seemed, as it was with every staff of the hotel, like we were intruding on their day and they simply had no interest in taking care of us.

Pool/Spa/Activities: The hotel had a sauna, a fitness center and an outdoor pool. The pool area had a nice sized heated pool with ample seating and a relaxing ambiance but lounging there was not as wonderful as it should have been had the hotel staff been more warm and accommodating. Almost every staff we came in contact with at the hotel showed a lack of enthusiasm for their job, save for one person from Guest Relations. The people just seemed like they couldn’t care less if we were there or not, giving us a very disappointing experience at the Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi Plus, I never did see their sandy white beach!

Check-Out: Checking out of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi was quick as everything on the bill was correct so it was just a swipe of the card, but this was done with their trademark indifference and nonchalance. By the end of our one night we were more than ready to leave.

Overall Impression: Unimpressed, disappointed and a bit shocked that this was actually the InterContinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi (it surely felt more like some random four star hotel), our rating for the InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi is Between Bombastic and Not (mere points from receiving a rating of Not Bombastic.

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