Beach Rotana is our new favourite staycation spot

Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi - Swimming Pool

Fancy a staycation that offers direct access to a beach as well as shopping? Read on.

Words: David Dunn

As blessed with beaches and shops as the UAE is it is rare to find a hotel that delivers both within five minutes walk of each other.

But that is exactly what the Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi offers guests.

Set in the heart of Al Zahiyah (previously known as the Tourist Club Area) in the capital, the landmark hotel is sited next to Abu Dhabi Mall, one of the city’s most established and largest retail havens.

Yet it also offers a stretch of beach overlooking “new Abu Dhabi”, namely the emerging Al Maryah Island skyline and Al Reem Island beyond.

Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi - Zen the Spa

The hotel is directly connected to the mall, with its huge range of shops and multi-screen cinema, but the homegrown hospitality brand offers plenty to keep you from straying.

A generous pool, a tranquil Zen spa, fitness centre and a dozen in-house restaurants compete for attention.

Among the latter is Prego – a contemporary and atmospheric open kitchen Italian concession with which Dubai Media Rotana regulars may be familiar –and Indigo, a fusion restaurant with an ‘avant garde’ approach to north Indian cuisine as well as classic dishes.

Both offer prime terrace views, although the stylish Finz delivers some of the best. It presents stylish seafood with North African Moorish influences in an over-the-water lounge setting that sets it apart from many restaurants. Sit in or outside, the ambience is sophisticated with food to match, curated by a bright young German chef.

Close by, American-Japanese concept Benihana presents a more boisterous atmosphere with a lively Teppanyaki experience whose animated chefs appeal as much to the kids as adults. And they say you shouldn’t play with your food…

Benihana Beach Rotana

For a more sedate affair, Rodeo Grill is a modern steak house that rightly carries a reputation in the capital, from its knowledgeable team – our waiter couldn’t be caught out on questions about steaks he presented at our table – to the signature Josper wood-fired oven that gives the cuts a subtle, desirable taste.

Contrasting again is Brauhaus, a German restaurant offering authentic cuisine and brews, a branch of Trader Vic’s French Polynesian restaurant and bar, and Essence – Beach Rotana’s spacious, internationally inspired, all-day dining option.

As if that’s not enough, the hotel recently added Al Nafoura Lounge, an outdoor “living room” dining area in the city resort’s courtyard.

Open during cooler months, it showcases Levant inspired street food alongside international creations such as sushi intended for sharing, as well as a separate breakfast menu, and drinks ranging from mocktails to Turkish coffee.

With the hotel as your base – and let it be said that Classic Room proved tough to tear ourselves away from – you’ve good geography for visiting the capital’s high-end mall The Galleria, across the bridge on Al Maryah Island.

Or, a decent walk/short taxi ride away, the charismatic World Trade Centre Souk & Mall, set on the site of the city’s old Central Market – a much-loved shopping venue until fire brought the shutters down for good.

Dubai Week was a guest of the venue.

Need to know:

A one-night midweek stay in February at the Beach Rotana, based on two people sharing a Classic Room with king bed, with breakfast, costs from AED 589 (AED 739 with taxes and fees) on an Advanced Purchase rate. For reservations and a photo gallery, browse


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