Thinking of heading to Abu Dhabi and wondering which one of the many luxury hotels to stay at – or even where to stay, at a hotel in downtown, Yas Island or near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?
After living in Abu Dhabi for 3.5 years I’ve been to pretty much all of the luxury hotels here.
Therefore I can give you an honest, realistic and reliable opinion, unlike bloggers just visiting the city for a couple of days who only get to experience one hotel and aren’t as familiar with the city and its surroundings.
Introducing Yas Hotel – the best luxury hotel to stay in Abu Dhabi from the eyes of a resident!
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Now just imagine: staying at the only hotel in the WORLD that straddles a Formula One race track! Not only that, but it is built half on land, half on water and has the most unique architecture!
At Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi you can experience exactly that!
Ever since I moved to Abu Dhabi, Yas Hotel (formerly known as Yas Viceroy) has been one of my absolute favourite buildings here! A magnificent 217 metre steel and glass covering surrounds the hotel, known as the ‘grid shell’.
At dusk almost 6,000 LED luminaries (with 144 bulbs each) on the steel lattice light up in a variety of different colours that change frequently (my favourites are when it is lit up in all red or all purple!).
It is so atmospheric and architecturally striking and looks truly beautiful, right?!
Architecture of Yas Hotel
By day the hotel looks equally stunning!
The curvilinear sweeping grid shell has diamond shaped glass panels (inspired by ancient Islamic art traditions) that are all unique is shape, size and angle of tilt: it almost looks like it is something from the future!
Yas Hotel is actually made up of two buildings (joined by a bridge that goes over the Formula One circuit) and the grid shell also visually joins the two buildings together.
The Main Building sits in the middle of the F1 race track and The Marina Wing is built on water overlooking Yas Marina.
The hotel is quite large, infact the lovely staff actually gave me a tour of the hotel as I got lost at one point trying to find the rooftop swimming pool as there are several elevators in different locations!
Once you work out your bearings though, the hotel is pretty easy to navigate around!
As building of the hotel was completed ready for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, it is fairly new and therefore very modern and contemporary inside, just like the exterior of the hotel.
The lobby is all white, giving it a futuristic feel, and there is some beautiful Emirati artwork on display here.
Upstairs when you are walking along the corridors to the rooms you’ll see lines on the carpet which actually mimic the shape of the race track outside. It adds a lovely unique touch to the hotel!
There are 2 open-air rooftop pools at Yas Hotel: one on each wing of the building. Moreover, one is just for adults which is perfect for those of us without children, so I headed straight for that one!
The pool is large, there are many loungers available and there is also a bar next to the pool which was great.
The futuristic LED canopy surrounds the edges of the rooftop pool, providing some shade from the sun but still maintaining a feeling of openness and space.
The pool receives the sun all day long and is always a very pleasant temperature as it is heated.
The pool area and bar is open from 6am until midnight – after dusk it is nice to go up here for a drink at the bar and enjoy the atmospheric vibe from the LED lights surrounding you whilst you sit and enjoy a cocktail by the pool.
There is also a rooftop lounge called Skylite, however this was closed for renovations whilst I was there.
I have been there in the past however, and it is a really lovely bar, but this time the LED roof completely surrounds you, providing a more intimate atmosphere.
Skylite rooftop lounge has a more sophisticated vibe than the poolside bar, with a smart-casual dress code, and there are plenty of comfy sofas to relax on and enjoy the music playing from the resident DJ.
There are a couple of very good restaurants on the ground floor of Yas Hotel: Angar is the Indian restaurant and Amici is the Italian restaurant, both offering exceptionally good food and in a very nice setting!
In the next few months a large restaurant will open inside Yas Hotel that will feature a fusion of many different cuisines. This will be great for those who cannot decide on which cuisine to choose!
Also worth nothing, on Fridays Yas Hotel hosts a really great brunch by the rooftop pool. If you haven’t been to a Friday brunch in the UAE you must go!
The 24 hour fitness centre is certainly very impressive and is without a doubt the largest gym I have ever seen! The range of equipment available is excellent.
What makes the gym even more spectacular are the views of both the marina and the race track that you can enjoy from the full-length windows whilst you are working out.
A sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are available to enjoy for free in the changing rooms too.
The spa is also located opposite the gym for those of you who wish to indulge in one of the many treatments available (additional charges apply of course).
The hotel features 499 spacious rooms with many of them having an incredible view of both the F1 race track and Yas Marina from the balcony:
The rooms are all very modern with contemporary fittings, neutral colours and a minimalistic feel. Even the standard rooms offer so much space!
The bathrooms look super fresh and modern and are also really spacious. They have a separate bath and shower, and complimentary Tokyo Milk toiletries are also offered, which smell SO good!
The rooms also have floor to ceiling length windows, which bring so much light into the room. The balconies are very spacious too with a table and chairs to relax on – perfect for enjoying some sun!
Due to the overhanging grid shell surrounding the hotel, some rooms will have their view slightly obstructed by the grid shell – where it drapes down a few metres infront of the balcony.
If this will bother you, contact the hotel before and tell them you would like a view without the shell. They will be more than happy to accommodate your request.
Generally the lower level floors offer unobstructed views, and in my opinion, the views from The Main Building are better than The Marina Wing.
If the races are going on:
The only downside is that if races are going on (cars do race here outside of the F1 season too), the noise may disturb you. There were no races when I was there so I cannot comment if it is loud or not.
But you may want to check before you book your stay here if there are any races going on.
Of course if you book to come here to see the races, the noise won’t bother you as you’ll be out on your balcony cheering and enjoying the races!
Which wing to stay in Yas Hotel?
If you plan on getting an early night or are sensitive to noise, I do recommend to stay in The Main Building as opposed to The Marina Wing as it is further away from Yas Marina.
There are a couple of bars on the marina that are open til late so perhaps the noise may disturb you if you are staying on the back side of The Marina Building. The rooms are pretty soundproof though.
However, why not stroll down to the marina yourself for dinner and drinks – it is so nice there in the evening and it has such a beautiful view of Yas Hotel!
Join the party-goers after dinner on the marina at Mr Miyagi’s club for some fun. Or if it is a Sunday night there is an 80’s and 90’s night at the Iris bar which is always a good laugh. There are even free drinks for ladies!
There were so many options for breakfast: you can have a full English breakfast, a continental breakfast, traditional Arabian breakfast or even a sweet breakfast!
The staff were so kind and attentive and it was a really nice relaxing atmosphere at breakfast!
Location of Yas Hotel:
The futuristic designed hotel is located on Yas Island, a manmade island just 20 minutes away from downtown Abu Dhabi.
Yas Island is home not only to the F1 circuit and Yas Beach, but also to the Ferrari World, Warner Brothers and Yas Waterworld theme parks!
Yas Island is a very popular place for both tourists and residents, and many residents actually prefer Yas Island to downtown Abu Dhabi as it is less crowded and more modern.
Being 10 minutes away from Abu Dhabi International Airport, it is also on the way to Dubai.
You can get to Dubai from Yas Island a lot quicker (1 hour drive) as opposed to if you were staying in a hotel in Abu Dhabi downtown and driving to Dubai (which would take 1 hour 30 minutes).
From Yas Hotel you can take a lovely 15 minute walk around the race track to Yas Marina. Yas Marina is full of impressive yachts – also the view of Yas Hotel from here is stunning especially at night!
There are several restaurants and bars, and some of Abu Dhabi’s best nightlife can be experienced on Yas Marina. Abu Dhabi has a young crowd at the bars (most will be teachers or airline crew).
Please bear in mind you will only be let into bars if you have your ORIGINAL passport with you (no photocopies!) or an Emirates ID (for residents of the country).
Driving licences from other countries will not be accepted as forms of ID into bars or clubs here!!
Many people choose to stay in hotels where The Grand Mosque is visible, such at The Shangri-La or Ritz Carlton. However, these hotels are quite secluded in their location and you cannot walk anywhere.
There is also nothing much around so you need to take a taxi to get anywhere. This is why Yas Hotel is a much better hotel to stay in in terms of location.
You can walk to the bars and restaurants on Yas marina, take boat trips from here, or take the free shuttle bus to Yas Beach, Yas Mall or one of the several theme parks located nearby.
Yas Hotel is also the perfect hotel to stay in if you are a solo traveller as it is easy to meet people at Yas Beach, down at one of the bars at the marina, or even at the bar in the hotel.
Whilst Yas Hotel doesn’t have its own private beach, Yas Island offers a free and reliable shuttle bus to Yas Beach from the hotel. This runs regularly throughout the day and just takes a few minutes to arrive.
Yas Beach is free to Yas Island hotel guests, non-hotel guests have to pay 50 dirhams to enter the beach. It has a great vibe with music playing throughout the day and a good food and drinks menu.
Alcohol is available here for those of you who enjoy a Corona whilst you sunbathe!
As well as hotel guests you’ll also find several expats here – lots of friends like to come and socialise around the pool and bar area. It is also suitable for families and couples though and there is plenty of space here.
The pool is large and the water in the sea is nice and calm. You also have the option of doing paddle boarding, kayaking or jet skiing from here if you wish!
The shuttle bus can also take you to Yas Mall, Yas theme parks or Yas Marina. The buses run regularly and are always on time.
During the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the LEDs on the grid shell can be lit up in such a way to show the winner of the races. So if you are landing into Abu Dhabi International Airport at this time, look out the window!
Of course if you wish to stay at Yas Hotel during the Formula One weekend make sure to book in advance as rooms sell out very quickly.
The Formula One happens at the end of November each year, naturally rooms will be more expensive during this time.
But the atmosphere during this time is bound to be absolutely phenomenal. And just imagine being able to watch the races from your very own balcony – it must be so incredible!
Rebranding of Yas Hotel:
I visited Yas Hotel during July 2019, however it’s changing to become a W Hotel at the end of 2019. Therefore, some construction work was going on whilst I was there, to prepare for the change of brand.
The construction work was mostly on the ground floor and you couldn’t hear any of the building work that was taking place, which I was very pleased about. It will be lovely to see it when it is completed and turned into a W Hotel!
When to visit Abu Dhabi:
Being in The Middle East, Abu Dhabi enjoys warm winters of around 27 degrees Celsius daily. “Winter” (October to March) is actually the most pleasant time to visit the UAE.
The summer months from June to September are very hot, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 50 degrees Celsius. October to March are the ideal months to visit.
However, if you do find yourself here during the scorching summer months, fear not! The UAE is well equipped to deal with the heat and everywhere has very good air-con!
There are many big luxury chain hotels in Abu Dhabi that offer similar services and experiences. Therefore it is quite difficult to find a unique hotel that stands out here.
This is where Yas Hotel comes in! If you want to experience Abu Dhabi’s most unique hotel, want great amenities on your doorstop, or even you are a racing car fan or architectural buff, this is definitely the hotel for you!
I had such a great time exploring around Yas Hotel. The staff were so welcoming and friendly and helpful! This hotel is so stunning and seems to offer everything and caters to everyone.
Plus the location in my opinion is the best location for a hotel in Abu Dhabi. It is located in between downtown Abu Dhabi and Dubai but with many amenities around!
If you’re struggling with which hotel to pick on your next trip to Abu Dhabi, give the former Yas Hotel – W Hotel a go! Click here to book!
If whilst you are staying in UAE you would also like to experience staying in a luxury desert resort, check out the Bab al Shams hotel – the world’s best desert resort!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!