Staying in one of the most glamorous cities in the world doesn’t mean that you need a budget to match. Save money on accommodation and spend more time out of the room, exploring the city. The most expensive hotels in the capital of the United Arab Emirates are close to its top attractions: the Corniche, Saadiyat Island Beach and Yas Marina. Prices are highest in winter, particularly during Formula 1, but they plummet in summer, especially throughout Ramadan, when almost all hotels have deals on rooms. Whenever you visit, there are often discounts to be had and wherever you stay, you can take advantage of the city’s buses or affordable taxis. We’ve rounded up the best budget hotels in the capital.
Aloft Abu Dhabi
This hotel is ideally situated next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, so if you’re in town on business, this may be the ideal spot to check in. It’s a fun alternative to the many fancy stays in the emirate, with young expats flocking to the rooftop, which has a great bar for sunset cocktails that won’t break the bank either. Plus, there’s a palm-dotted outdoor pool to cool off in. In summer, the pool area hosts raucous DJ parties complete with fireworks, so make sure to check the website before booking to grab a ticket – or avoid.
Rooms from $52; Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Khaleej Al Arabi Street; +971 2 654 5000
A three-star hotel adjacent to Khor al Maqta channel, this has one of the best views in the city of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Rooms are functional and many have views of the waterway. Despite this being a budget stay, there’s loads to do here. The pool table, darts, table tennis and TV room make the Ibis ideal for families – there’s even a kids’ club. For adults, there’s a great Indian restaurant, Belgian-themed bar, gym and spa with a Turkish bath. The hotel is 2km from The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri shopping mall, which has an illuminated promenade along Khor al Maqta with views of the Grand Mosque. From there, you can board a traditional abra boat for a tour of Abu Dhabi from the water.
Rooms from $51; 222 Al Maqta Street; +971 2 509 0999
If you’re looking for budget, traditional rooms with loads of space, Al Diar is for you. The 13-storey hotel has a Chinese restaurant, gym and nightclub, so ask for a room on a higher floor if you’re a light sleeper. Al Diar also wins points for its location, as it’s just a five-minute walk from Heritage Park and the Corniche promenade. It’s also walking distance from the port, where you can dine on seafood, watch fishermen fixing boats and visit Warehouse 421, a creative hub with exhibitions, workshops and arthouse screenings. If you’re in town for art, one of the main draws is the Louvre, which is only a 10-minute taxi ride away.
Rooms from $36; Meena Street, Downtown Abu Dhabi; +971 2 678 7700
If you have kids, love golf or are a Formula 1 fan, then base yourself on Yas Island, near the airport. Three-star Centro Yas Island is a good budget option, and it’s more wheelchair-friendly than most hotels in Abu Dhabi, with accessible doors, roll-in showers and lower sinks. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, many of which overlook the pool and tennis court. The hotel also has a gym, restaurant, bar and deli – handy as there are few shops in the area unless you visit Yas Mall. You can walk to Yas Beach, entertainment centre du Forum, and MAD on Yas Island nightclub, while Yas Marina is just 1km away. There’s also a shuttle bus taking you to all the main sights.
Rooms from $65; Yas Plaza, Yas Island; +971 2 656 4444
Royal Rose Hotel
You couldn’t be better located for proximity to the Corniche, Saadiyat Island and AL Maryah Island at Royal Rose, so make it your base and spend all day out and about. Although cars and taxis are the main form of transport in the city, at this hotel you’re within walking distance of dozens of cafés and bakeries. Lovers of tradition and old-school glamour will love this place. Think; over-the-top chandeliers and gold-and-velvet throne chairs in the lobby. There’s a rooftop pool looking out onto the surrounding skyscrapers surrounding the hotel and a leisure spa and gym.
Rooms from $76; 1025,Sheikh Zayed the 1st Street, Electra Street, 7th Street; +971 2 672 4000
Taking the notion of a business hotel to a whole new level, Tryp is a skyscraper hotel right in the city centre that’s close to the Corniche and Capital Park, as well as the Abu Dhabi Offshore Oil Company, if you’re in town for meetings. The hotel itself though is a home from home, with chocolate-coloured furnishings. Some rooms have a sea view out to Al Lulu island, and some suites come with living rooms and jacuzzi baths. There’s also a rooftop pool and poolside cafe and ground floor coffee bar for croissants on the go.
Rooms from $48; Khalifa Bin Zayed the First Street; +971 2 2023555
Want a resort beach break on a desert island without the price tag? Look no further than this palm-strewn hotel twisting swimming pool overlooking the Yas Links golf course. More importantly, it’s on the cheaper side of Abu Dhabi’s hotels. Who says you have to skimp on design in favour of cheapness and convenience? Rooms have dune-coloured throws and some have balconies with a sea view. Dine outside on the terrace on candlelit tables in cooler months at cool local hangout the Filini Garden, or stay in at the Belgian Beer Café, renowned for its tasty pub grub. Plus, if you’ve got kids in tow, you’re only down the road from Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World and Warner Bros World.
Rooms from $87; Saadiyat Island, ; +971 2 656 2000
If you’d prefer a bit more freedom or maybe you’re travelling with a family, staying in a budget apartment in the centre of town could be the best option. All of these studio and one-bed apartments are decked out in sleek wooden and thoroughly modern fittings and are more like hotel suites than flats. There are three restaurant options, than include a rooftop snack bar by the pool and Arabic dishes at Al Iwan if you don’t feel like cooking. The apartments are right next to Al Maryah Island – where one of Abu Dhabi’s top mall The Galleria is located.
Rooms from $65; Electra Street, Zayed the First Street; +971 2 644 8000
One of the best budget stays in the city, you get more bang for your buck at Traders, an offshoot of the luxury hotel Shangri-la next door. It’s the only four-star hotel in the city with its own private beach, peppered with white cabanas and you get the same dazzling view of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque opposite. Rooms don’t have all of the pomp of sister hotel Shangri-La next door, but instead are decorated in muted pastel blues and golds. There’s also a health club with pool and sun loungers towered over by honey-coloured Arabian-style towers next door.
Rooms from $90; Khor Al Maqta; +97125108888
For more hotels in Abu Dhabi and around the world, visit etihadholidays.com