Regardless of footballing allegiances – or whether you follow the game at all – it’s hard not to be impressed by the view from the rooftop of the Garden City’s latest hotel.
Words: David Dunn
Aloft Al Ain is a smart new address in the emirate of Abu Dhabi – and part of that is down to location, right next to the stunning Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
The home of Al Ain FC is an award-winning structure, and its iconic design is now in good company with the opening of the Marriott International chain’s latest property.
Aloft Al Ain is – perhaps surprisingly considering the rate at which hotels appear across the country – only the second Aloft in the UAE.
Visitors to the first, beside Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, will confirm a signature design-led, sophisticated mix of colour, artwork and relaxed cool.
And with 10 new Aloft properties set to open across the Middle East over the next five years, Al Ain can lay claim to helping lead the way.
From the state of the art check-in desk to the pool deck with its views across the city, there’s a sense of freshness about Aloft Al Ain.
The use of bold colour in décor around communal areas, as well as sassy furniture and fittings, steers a positive mood that extends into the hotel international all-day dining restaurant.
Olive Tree serves up a variety of international cuisines, bathed in generous natural light from windows giving a view onto a square created by the stadium, hotel and other buildings, incorporating apartments and other dining destinations in this evolving part of town.
Hotel food and beverage options also include re:fuel – a 24 hour grab and go snack bar – while the interior designers have also been busy in the signature W XYZ bar and The Rooftop, Al Ain’s first lounge. Closed or open to the splash pool, the latter offers stunning views of the majestic Jebel Hafeet mountain and is surely set to become one of Al Ain’s nightlife hot spots.
There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre on the same level to work off indulgence or prepare for a day sight-seeing some of the area’s popular attractions.
Aloft Al Ain’s 175 guest rooms and suites continue the urban-influenced design theme, with energetic styling, large walk-in showers and SPG Keyless in operation. For the tech-minded among you, that is the industry’s first truly mobile check-in system where guests can utilise their mobile phone as a room key.
Some hotels can be accused of putting design over comfort. While Aloft Al Ain places modern touches at the heart of its look in creating a modern, savvy vibe, we’re happy to say that doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, including a sumptuous bed that was hard to exit.
We’re glad we did, of course, as the rooftop pool offered prime lounging opportunities, including cabanas and plenty of spots in which to lie back or sit.
The hotel is ideally situated in Al Ain so as to be within easy reach of weekenders or stay-cationers from Dubai and beyond, yet a short drive from the city’s treasured attractions, such Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort, the imperious Jabel Hafeet and Al Ain Zoo.
Slightly further, you’ll find Wadi Adventures at the foot of Jabel Hafeet, adding a visual thrill to a facility that can be as relaxed or as daring as you demand.
While the centre offers loungers beside its manmade ‘beach’ and wave-blessed pool, among the big draws are the whitewater rapids that test stamina and teamwork, while delivering fun and a soaking as you navigate the torrent in a raft.
You can get an overview of the course if you zip line across the current from the Airpark.
Here you can also test climbing and balance skills over 18 obstacles and recharge the adrenaline on a three-seater swing with friends or family.
The longest artificial whitewater channels in the world is at Wadi Adventure, while there’s a perhaps unlikely opportunity to learn to surf or wake board.
Back at the Aloft Al Ain, meanwhile, for those of you with business in mind, the hotel is close to Al Ain Convention Centre and also features four on-site meeting spaces equipped with state-of-the-art A/V equipment and fast and free WiFi – the latter also available to leisure guests.