Monday 20th November, 2017

Hilton Baynunah Tower

The drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport was about 40 kilometres. We arrived into the city, and out along the Corniche Road, which tracks the seaside on the outer CBD. A short drive along and I could see the Hilton Baynunah Tower. Signage was not outstanding so my driver missed it on the first round. He then reversed back and into an area on a small side street, where the entrance was. There was a ground floor reception, seemingly no concierge or porters desk. My reservation, made through Metrostar.com at a rate of 399 dirhams (around USD 110) plus tax, was located immediately and soon after I was heading to Room 706 on the seventh floor. Access was by elevator, which had a window out on to the sea and the surrounding area. The lift was small. There were two of them, each with a capacity of about five persons. The hotel stretches up to 42-stories, and is the tallest residential complex in the city. It comprises 139 suites, as well as a number of two, three and four bedroom apartments, available for residential lettings. The hotel has a restaurant on the second floor, a coffee shop, and functions/conference areas. It does not have a bar, which with the lack of concierge and porter facilities probably leaves it short of a five-star establishment, which the hotel claims. The facilities however, including the rooms certainly matched up. Along the seventh floor I skirted the Atrium Lounge to Room 706. I entered the room, which had a very wide timber door, to an enclosed kitchen area which housed a sink, a stove (two hot plates), no microwave, and kitchen cupboards containing cutlery, crockery and glassware. There was also a well-stocked mini-bar, and tea/cofee facilities. The burgundy colour carpet stretched into a very spacious room which overlooked the Arabian sea. The corniche unfortunately during my stage was a mess, a construction site as all the gardens, and landscaped lawns had been replaced by excavation crews that had completely erased all that once was, obviously to make way for major development. This was the scene all the way up and down the city coastline. The windows in the room stretched from the ceiling to the floor, and provided a panoramic view of the Abu Dhabi coast. There was an armchair which was two metres wide (designed for one person), a wooden cabinet with glass doors, which supported the television set, and music entertainment centre. The TV included Showtime, The Movie Channel, Star Movies, the BBC, CNN, CNBC, a large array of Arabic channels, including local Abu Dhabi and Dubai stations, Fox Sports, Bloomberg and the National Geographic Channel.

The king size bed was enveloped in a white tucked-in doona, with two pillows (no bedspread), and flanked by two large timber fixed drawers, which supported a phone, a vase of dried flowers, and bedside controls for the lighting. There was a two-door wardrobe, and a third cabinet with shelves and a safe. The wardrobe included a trouser press and a basket to store shoes. All three cabinets had their own lighting. The walls were painted in an off-white colour, with a large feature long red padded bedhead. There were two lights suspended from the ceiling over the bedside tables. There was an airconditioning control panel fixed to the wall. Over in the corner was a desk which had a fax on top, a lamp, and one drawer. There was a modem to connect to local dial-up Internet providors. The partition separating the bedroom from the kitchen area was backed by a complete mirror wall. Near the kitchen area was a fire extinguisher, something I haven't seen in a hotel room before.

The bathroom was quite large, with both toilet and bidet. The vanity table provided ample bench space, with more cupboards underneath, and there was another panel at the back of the room. There was a super mirror covering all the wall space above and around the vanity, and there was a fixed one-speed industrial-type-looking hair dryer fixed to the wall.

The shower was in the full size bath. The controls were ok, the water flow a little on the harsh side.

On the seventh floor was the Atrium lounge, where you could get Arabic coffee, tea (Twinings) and orange juice 24 hours a day. There were also four computers, with printers connected, and these were all hooked up to high-speed Internet access. They were available for unlimited use 24 hours a day, on a complimentary basis. I did use two of the machines and found them ok, but jittery at times, and I had some difficulty obtaining or crystallising sites. This may have been an off-day, or it could be that the service is not that reliable. More than likely though, as I was to find on this trip to Abu Dhabi, that Internet service in the city is not at an advanced level (or wasn't at the time of my visit).

The lounge encircles the seventh floor and is a little confusing to enter and exit.

I missed breakfast, having arrived in at a late hour, so I elected to try the second floor restaurant for lunch. Check-out was 12 noon, so I phoned down to extend to 2.30pm, which was no problem.

The restaurant, with views again over the Gulf, and the gardens (and construction site) below, was well decked out with contemporary furnishings, was bright and breezy, yet with an air of formality. There was a buffet on, which is the usual fare at most hotel restaurants in the region. Arab dishes combined with continental meals were available. Some of the day's specials included carrot and coriander soup, an array of salads, grilled chicken, stir fried chicken, beef and a fish dish. There was also an array of desserts and fresh cream. There was fruit salad, the famour Arab dish om ali, strawberry creme cake, chocolate brownies and profiteroles. The cost was 45 dirhams, which is about USD 11. A diet coke cost 6 dirhams.I took a walk in the environs. There was a great garden park nearby, numerous high rise buildings consisting of office and residential towers. The people were friendly, it was a great day, the only thing seeminly missing were any shops. I was told later though the hotel is near to the Marina Mall, the Gulf's largest shopping complex.

The staff at the hotel were friendly and attentive, what there was of them. I didn't see too many, and perhaps this is in keeping with the fact that the property was an apartment hotel, with a large focus on permanent lettings as well as overnight stays.

There was a health club on the 29th floor known as the Skyline Health & Fitness Club. This included a gym area, fitness studio, a 15 metre, 4 lane pool, sauna and steam rooms. There were also separate ladies and gents beauty salons on the first and ground floors respectively.

In summary the hotel had most of the facilities you would expect from a good standard four star hotel (although rated 5 star), but lacks a little life or personality, possibly due to the fact that there is no bar, no concierge, no porters (seemingly) and limited restaurants (there is also a coffee shop on the ground floor near reception called Cafe' Arabesque). On the other hand, room service is extensive in the variety of dishes, and it is available 24 hours a day.

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