When regional rules surrounding Covid-19 relaxed but international travel was still off cards, the UAE’s dining scene saw a happy spike in guests eager to flex a little bit of freedom and re-immerse - or perhaps even reward - themselves in the region’s restaurant scene. Few things feel more exhilarating than stepping through the doors of your favourite eaterie - social restrictions withstanding - and greeting your favourite menu or much-missed maître d’ after what felt like an eternity.
For those seeking a staycation, or even tourists now dipping their toes back into travel, the need to have multiple eateries on one’s doorstep is paramount; ample choice yet in the safe confines of your hotel equals reduced risk but an elevated experience; the ultimate goal.
Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers has mastered the art of variety, with a culinary cornucopia at the hands of 12 award-winning restaurants and bars that take you on a gourmet world tour, from Lebanon to Latin America, Tokyo to Tuscany - each offering guests an experience to write a postcard home about.
Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers has mastered the art of variety, with a culinary cornucopia of award-winning restaurants and bars
Something unique to this monolithic property that gleams tall and proud at the end of the capital’s corniche is its Observation Deck on the 74th floor. To accompany its vertiginous 360-degree views over the city, Afternoon Tea is served from 2-6pm every day, with unlimited tea and mocktails, or bubbles should you wish to add some extra fizz.
Finger sandwiches, scones and pastries are designed around different themes - for example, strawberry - and arrive in little ‘treasure chest’ picnic boxes, as you sink back in your leather armchair and devour both the degustation menu and panoramas from Abu Dhabi’s highest vantage point. Not quite so height-inclined? Don’t worry, Afternoon Tea is also served in the Lobby Lounge, where its floor-to-ceiling-and-then-some windows and trickling water feature create a relaxed, light-filled occasion.
From a British afternoon to a Latin American after-dark, VaKaVa by Richard Sandoval adds a little va-va-voom to the hotel's dining scene. All sultry inside with low red lighting, dark woods and animal skin/skulls as artwork, the menu bursts with rich flavours and spices borrowed from Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Argentina. The smoked guacamole is something of a legend. Upstairs there’s a bar, with an outdoor terrace once autumn really arrives, that claims its space as the hotel's lively place to be come nightfall.
For something a little more Mediterranean, Sole brings elegant Italian dining to the fore, with a relaxed contemporary vibe across both dishes and décor. Indoors or al fresco, guests can feast on grilled sea bass with Cipollini salsa and shaved Bottarga, tomato gnocchi ‘straight from Sorrento’, traditional Tuscan Bean soup and, of course, Tirimasu - but with a twist.
The jewel in Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers’ crown is Le Petit Chef at Ray’s Grill - a theatrical dining experience on the 63rd floor. With 3D visuals weaving a magical, interactive story as you eat, you’ll be taken on a one-and-a-half-hour culinary journey following the world's smallest chef (58mm to be exact), tucking into tomato terrine, confit de canard, Wagyu beef fillet and warm chocolate tart. There’s a separate Le Petit Junior Menu for children aged 6-12 and a Le Petit Chef Vegetarian Menu, making it an unforgettable experience for everyone.
This is just a little taster, as there’s far more to tuck into at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, but you’ll have to book a visit to take a bite.
WHAT: Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, UAE