Abu Dhabi is a destination with something for every visitor; immerse yourself in cultural wonders and high-octane adventures or wind down to discover local traditions and true relaxation.
In search of her own Abu Dhabi rhythm, we sent Australian model, entrepreneur and Luxury Escapes travel insider, Brooke Hogan, to Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, an exclusive retreat overlooking the pristine Saadiyat Beach.
Here, following a sojourn of hidden gems and enriching encounters, @brookehogan reveals everything you need to know about travelling Abu Dhabi, and how you can find your pace in this Emirati jewel.
1. Travelling here is a breeze
With international travel back and better than ever, visiting Abu Dhabi is as simple as booking a hotel and boarding a flight! With an array of private and public transfer options to get you from the airport to accommodation and even around the bustling city, visitors can tailor their travelling experience to their needs.
As an Etihad Business Class passenger, Brooke began her escape in style with a complimentary chauffeur service from Abu Dhabi International Airport. “The Etihad Business Experience made travelling so seamless,” says Brooke. “I especially enjoyed the chauffeur service, and, upon landing, we were able to use a different exit and get straight into a car that took us to the hotel.”
2. It’s packed with culture
“I loved learning about and experiencing Muslim culture,” says Brooke. “It was incredible to visit Abu Dhabi during the most important month of the Islamic calendar. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was one of the most beautiful places we visited – the detail and architecture was mesmerising and it was even more special to visit during this sacred month.” To make the most of your experience, Brooke adds, “I'd recommend doing a tour.” In addition to the showstopping mosques and historical attractions, Brooke enjoyed exploring the city’s modern sights. “Louvre Abu Dhabi is also a great place to visit while in the emirate. It's simply breathtaking. We had a beautiful dinner at the world-renowned Fouquet’s restaurant located inside the museum, while admiring the iconic, Arabian-inspired architecture.”
3. The fun never stops
Another huge draw for this vibrant city is the sheer variety of activities on offer. “From taking in priceless artworks at Louvre Abu Dhabi and activities such as kayaking or desert safaris, to touring historic landmarks or just relaxing on the beach, there is something for everyone,” says Brooke. “The desert safari experience was so unique and special – looking out and only seeing rolling sand dunes all around us was magical. The Emirates Palace hotel was also stunning and grand; such a cool place to see.” Brooke shares her top tip for fashion-lovers: “The Galleria Al Maryah Island had all my favourite stores. It’s a massive centre, so make sure you leave enough time to shop!”
4. You can still enjoy sundowners
Diverse Abu Dhabi offers delicious and authentic cuisines from around the world, with an impressive variety of both traditional and international dining spots all around the city. “We had traditional Iftar meals most nights, which was amazing. There is nothing better than freshly baked manakish (flatbread) or Arabian lamb stew. The coolest meal we had was an Emirati feast in a tent, complete with Shisha,” Brooke says of the intimate, Bedouin-style event hosted by Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi. “It was the full experience!” Contrary to popular belief, you can sip your favourite poolside beverages or dinnertime grape while relaxing in Abu Dhabi (and during Ramadan, for non-Muslims). In fact, many of the city’s hotels have their own beachside, rooftop, and pool bars.
5. The scenery is jaw-dropping
With both stunning nature and man-made architectural wonders, this city is a feast for the eyes. “Abu Dhabi is breathtakingly beautiful,” Brooke says. “The architecture of the buildings, the mosques, the beaches, the sunsets...it’s otherworldly. I couldn’t believe the beauty of this city.”
6. You won't need a whole new wardrobe
There’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your trip (unless you want to!) In Abu Dhabi visitors can don their regular attire, with the caveat of being aware and respectful of dress codes, particularly in places of worship. “We found that you can dress normally in most places. However, out of respect, it’s important to dress modestly in places of worship,” says Brooke. “If you don’t have something to wear to the mosque, typically these sites offer robes you can borrow, so don’t worry about spending extra money on something to wear to tour these gorgeous religious buildings.”