Took a 7hr flight from London and spent 48hrs in Abu Dhabi, which was totally worth it. Surrounded by luxury and panoramic views of the Arabian gulf, spending my birthday in Abu Dhabi was a beautiful experience. This was my second time visiting as my first time was only a day trip when I visited Dubai.
- British Airways flight: 7hrs from London Heathrow (LON – AUH)
- Airport transfer: Black Lane
- Hotel: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
- Currency: Arabian Dirhams (£1 ~ 4.5 AED)
- Travel adapter: 2 round pin
- Language: Arabic is the official language; English is widely spoken as there is a large expat community present.
Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers
This 5-star hotel screams luxury and exquisite everywhere you walk. From the marble bathroom to its high ceiling Swarovski crystal ball chandeliers and world-class outstanding service, this hotel is absolutely stunning. This 69-storey hotel boasts a collection of high -end stores like Cartier and Versace, and an observation deck offering amazing views of the city.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Beach Access
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Fitness centre
- Restaurants / Bars
- Room service / Full service laundry
- Safety deposit box
- Air – conditioning
- Flat Screen TV
- Towels, Bathrobes & Free toiletries
- 30min drive to Abu Dhabi international airport
So here’s what I did in 48 hrs…..
I arrived Abu Dhabi at about 12am on the day of my birthday and checked into the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel. Had a quick look round the hotel, showered and went to bed, ready for an early start later that morning.
The Breakfast buffet at the Rosewater restaurant was AMAZING!! Full of some much variety and options, I ended up eating way more than I could handle. (side note: Pork sausages are not served as pork is forbidden in the Islamic religion)
Activities on day 1 included visiting the marina mall, observation deck, emirates palace , the beach and dining at Hakkasan.
The marina mall is one of the largest malls in Abu Dhabi and is home to over 400 stores. There’s a wide range of dining options and an entertainment hub where you can play video/shooting games, catch a movie at the cinema or bowl at the emirates bowling village.
The mall is open from 10am – 10pm Saturday – Sunday and 10am – 12am Thursday – Friday. Find out here for further inquiries on marina mall.
OBSERVATION DECK AT ETIHAD TOWERS
Situated on the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, the Observation Deck at 300 is the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi where you can explore the birds-eye view of the city’s skyline, the Corniche, and Arabian Gulf. Soak up the views during afternoon tea at the café which is known to be the city’s highest restaurant.
The deck is open daily from 10am – 7pm and tickets cost 95 AED (approx.£20). A credit voucher of 55 AED (approx.£12) is attached to the entrance fee and can be redeemed on the day of your visit. If you’re staying at the Jumeirah hotel, then entry is free.
Dined at the Hakkasan restaurant, which is situated inside of the Emirates Palace. The Emirates palace is situated next to the royal palace and is the epitome of opulence. Known for Its gold and marble regal décor, the iconic emirates palace is estimated at whopping 3 billion dollars!!!!
My birthday dinner at Hakkasan was a pleasant experience. The staff were polite, attentive and provided an outstanding service. I’d recommend tasting their stir -fry black pepper beef and edamame rice. The restaurant is quite expensive, so I’d say budget about £150 for dining two people.
MADINAT ZAYED GOLD SOUK
There are many captivating window displays of exquisite gold / silver jewellery, diamonds and gemstones. The variety of styles and the high – quality of craftsmanship creates an ideal environment to shop for well-designed jewellery pieces. Gold is priced in accordance with the international daily gold rate and can be modelled into your own design.
The gold centre is open Saturday – Thursday 9am to 10:30pm and 4pm to 11pm on Fridays. I purchased an 18kt gold ring at the souk and the service was decent. After putting my bargaining skills to practice, I managed to negotiate a good price for the ring. So, remember to always try and negotiate the price!
MASSAGE AT THE SHERATON HOTEL
A massage session at the Sheraton hotel was very refreshing and soothing. For 200 AED (approx. £45), I got a 60 minutes aromatherapy massage which was the best option for stress relief. I also had access to their gym, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and pool.
SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE
The Sheikh Zayed mosque is one of Abu Dhabi’s most visited attraction and grandest mosques in the world. Featuring white marble flooring inlaid with floral design, Swarovski crystal chandeliers and a unique lighting system designed to reflect the phases of the moon, this grand mosque cost half a billion USD to build and can fit a total of 40,000 people inside!
It is free entry and is open daily from 9am to 10pm except from Fridays, where it is open from 4:30pm to 10pm as Friday is the holy day in Islam. Click here for opening times during Ramadan.
You must dress appropriately when visiting the mosque as they are strict with their dress code. On arrival, you would be directed to an x-ray scanning machine. They provide women with an abaya to wear, which covers your hair and entire body if they deem your outfit to be unsatisfactory. Also be prepared to take off your shoes and walk barefoot or with socks. In efforts of capturing a decent picture with the domes of the mosque in the background, I had to stand on the burning hot white marble tiles, so remember to take a pair of socks! Click here for more information on mosque manners.
Learn about the architectural aesthetics distinguishing the mosque and the history behind its establishment with the 45 – 60 minutes free guided cultural tours. The tours are offered in English and Arabic. Click here to learn more about the timings of the tours.
Experience the culture, educate yourself about the religion, take loads of pictures and be courteous.