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Arabian Sanctuary: Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

The Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi is not your ordinary hotel. In fact, it’s extraordinary.

With one of the most majestical settings for a hotel in the entire Middle East, the Shangri-La impresses from the moment you arrive.

Located conveniently close to Abu Dhabi airport and only an hours drive from the centre of Dubai within the acclaimed Qaryat Al Beri complex, the hotel sits imposingly alongside the Grand Canal on a one-kilometre stretch of private beach and directly opposite the stunningly beautiful Grand Mosque.

Let’s start here.  The Grand Mosque is a must-see for anyone living in or visiting the Emirates, its breathtaking beauty is not only humbling but bewitching. From every angle of the hotel, particularly the private beach, the pearl white domes and minarets of the Mosque gleam with austerity under the blazing desert sun. Watching the sunset from the Shangri-La is one of the single-handedly most beautiful sights you will ever see.

The hotel is also located next to a souk, a traditional Arabian market built-in a modern setting which offers guests a variety of shops under one roof.

The marbled oasis of the towering lobby is synonymous with the luxurious decor that we have come to appreciate with the Shangri-La brand worldwide. The striking Arabic decor of the hotel is followed throughout with each of the 213 luxurious guest rooms and suites (not to mention the four-bedroom private villas) furnished to an impeccably high standard in warm tones and dark wood. Each of the rooms are canal facing with views out onto the strait and directly onto the Grand Mosque, bar the odd palm tree distracting the view from the private balcony. The Premier room is worth the extra money for the sheer size. Expect large, comfortable rooms, the epitome of Arabian luxury, with a huge king sized bed taking pride of place in the centre of the room. The bathroom however, is the best bit. An oversized shower sits opposite a perfectly sunken bath tub, perfect for lighting candles around and drifting into a state of deep relaxation. The separate dressing room is also a pleasing touch. Of course there are all the modern facilities you would expect from 24-hour in room dining to cable and satellite channels on the television system. They also say the mark of a truly good hotel is free wi-fi and the Shangri-La is more than happy to oblige.

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What’s more the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri is not just a pretty face. The striking grandeur of the architecture lit up like a beacon of contemporary luxury in the twilight as if partaking in a face-off with the Grand Mosque, the shimmering waters of the infinity pool glistening. The restaurants and bars located within the hotel are also amongst some of the finest in Abu Dhabi. Offering an international range of cuisines there is enough choice to please everyone. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Shang Palace, is not only award-winning but serves authentic Cantonese cuisine in a tasteful and traditionally decorated restaurant. Also award-winning is Vietnamese favourite, Hoi An, which like its sister restaurant in the Dubai based hotel serves traditional and modern dishes from Vietnam such as Wok-seared cognac beef and steamed sea bass in banana leaf.

For an all-out fine dining experience, celebrate at the glamorous Bord Eau and feast on delectable French cuisine. It’s chic dining room setting is beyond opulent and the chef de cuisine prepares seasonal fresh produce that is flown in from France, each dish  of the superb a la carte menu aesthetically beautiful in its own right. For the ultimate experience however, the blind tasting menu is a must.

Our favourite however, has to be Pearls & Caviar with its circular restaurant located out to the side of the hotel and it’s rooftop Pearls bar with outstanding views across the canal. Serving up Mediterranean dishes in a truly spectacularly designed restaurant. Spain’s two-starred Michelin chef, Sergi Arola brings his expertise to his first restaurant in the Middle East. With a brand new tapas concept which has revolutionized an already fantastic seafood restaurant, signature dishes from across the globe are served up alongside a selection of quirky infused drinks.

Now P & C by Sergio Arola will also house a jazz radio station that will broadcast live from the restaurant daily, could it get any more atmospheric? Yes actually it does. The decor is sleek and almost clubby, with black gloss and thousands of pearls hanging from the ceiling. The upstairs Pearls bar is the perfect way to round off the evening and surprisingly busy, it’s a trendsetter and its unforgettable rooftop with white leather furniture and panoramic views only further accentuated by the DJ who brings it alive every weekend.

The Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri is a hotel that has revolutionized the area, it understands what true luxury is and gives it to guests in abundance. You have fantastic facilities, exceptional rooms and award-winning dining options that truly come alive after the sun has set.  Perfect for a weekend break, although it’s truly a oustanding hotel for any time of the week or year.

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