Abu Dhabi International Airport (or AUH) is one of the busiest transport hubs in the UAE, but a layover in the city needn’t be about killing time between flights. Out of the three terminals, chances are that you’ll be departing from Terminal 1 or 3 – where the majority of shops and services are. Whether you’re simply travelling through or it’s your final destination, here’s our guide to what you can expect when you land in the capital.
Where to eat
For delicate pastries, fluffy bagels and mouth-watering gateaus, head to bakery and patisserie La Brioche (within the Skypark Plaza retail centre, adjoining the main terminal building). If you want something more substantial, Camden Food Co (Terminal 3 departures) serves up organic and natural food. As its name suggests, To Go (inside Terminal 1) does what it says on the tin, with coffee and snacks on offer.
For something a little different check out Montreux Jazz Café (Terminal 3). Tucked away in a corner of the upper-level food zone, the jazz-themed café has a light bites menu with “opening acts” starting from Dh27. There’s archival jazz concert footage from the likes of Nina Simone and Hugh Masekela playing on screens dotted around the restaurant – a great spot to while away your time pre-flight. Another place with a cool vibe is CNN Traveller Café. It’s also upstairs in Terminal 3 and has an up-to-the-minute newsroom buzz with TV screens showing CNN headlines and up-to-the-minute reportage. Dishes include local salads like fattoush and tabbouleh. For a celebratory pre-holiday drink, O’Learys Bar & Restaurant (Terminal 3) has the feel of a cosy Irish pub, or check out the whiskeys at Sky Bar (Terminal 1).
Where to shop
Thought the city centre was great for shopping? The airport gives even the best malls in the city a run for its money. Fragrance Boutique is located in Terminal 3 and stocks high-end perfume brands including Bulgari, Tom Ford, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few – plus it’s one of the few places in the world where elusive New York perfume brand Le Labo is stocked. High-flying fashionistas are spoilt for choice, too – there are outposts from the world’s biggest fashion houses including Hermès, Coach, Emporio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Fendi and Hugo Boss. You’ll find these in the East and West Avenue wings in Terminal 3.
In Terminal 1, outposts from Burberry, Guess and Givenchy add glamour. There’s also a cigar shop and you can pick up chocolate-drizzled dates at chocolatier and souvenir store Souq.
If it’s a SIM card you need, you can get them at the various telecommunications counters lined up within the Skypark Plaza retail hub.
Where to sleep
Weary travellers have two rest options on site. You can nap between flights at Aerotel in Terminal 1 in single and double rooms with a six-hour minimum stay. There’s 38 rooms kitted with free Wi-Fi, wake-up-calls and showers, with rates starting from Dh365.
If you’ve got longer to kill or are getting an early flight, Premier Inn Airport Hotel is only accessed from outside the airport at the Terminal 3 car park. There’s free internet, plus a gym and pool. Rates start from Dh225.
Where are the lounges?
There are eight lounges across the airport – three in Terminal 1, one in Terminal 2, one in the arrivals hall, and three dedicated exclusively to Etihad Airways passengers in Terminal 3. All have showers and all-day dining along with Wi-Fi, private business dens and, in some cases, even a spa. Walk-in rates apply, with prices starting at Dh105 for two hours. It’s worth noting that a separate VIP check-in area exists for First and Business Class passengers on arrival at the airport.
For pre-flight pampering, Tosa Spa (in Skypark Plaza, Terminal 3) and Six Senses Spa (Etihad’s Business Lounge in Terminal 3) offer massages, facials and mani-pedis. There are dedicated smoking lounges in each of the terminal buildings and separate men’s and women’s prayer rooms along with a multi-faith room adjacent to the bus gates in Terminal 3. Families can make use of free strollers airport wide and baby changing facilities, too. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport and there are dedicated internet kiosks scattered between gates.