Style abounds but location limitations spoil Hyatt Capital Gate
It's not the most promising of starts as I follow makeshift signs directing guests along the dusty side roads around Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), off Khaleej Al Arabi Street, and on up to the famously engineered Capital Gate building. The greeting is brisk and polite as the concierge expertly guides me past the cafe that dominates the ground floor and up to the Hyatt hotel lobby on the 18th floor.
The capital's very own leaning tower looms large as you drive onto the island, standing out in the otherwise low-rise Embassies District next to Adnec. The 160m-tall tower should put the Capital Centre development of 23 towers on the map but now the main draw for guests staying at the 189-room, five-star Hyatt that occupies floors 18 to 33 of the building is the conference centre next door.
It's not often that a hotel room exceeds my expectations, but the executive suite is a knockout. The second smallest of four suite categories at 100 sq m, there is a sizeable living cum dining area and curving bedroom, both lined with a beautiful rich Congolese wood, and an enormous bathroom equipped with infinity bathtub and small flatscreen television, large rainfall shower and snug woolly bathrobes instead of the standard towelling ones. My huge bathtub has a radio as well as water jets and purple uplighting.
Attentive at check in, and in the restaurant and Rayana Spa. Waiting for my spa treatment in one of four treatment rooms, the spa manager stops to say "hello" and enquire about my general well-being before recommending an essential oil for my hour-long Swedish massage (Dh490). My South African therapist eases my muscle tension and the whole effect is energising rather than soporific.
The hotel has one restaurant, 18°, where a buffet and à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. In the evenings, the chef serves up a Mediterranean menu that is divided by country. Choose from Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey with dishes such as creamy Italian burrata and sea bass poached in almond milk (Greece). The airy restaurant has an open kitchen. There is also a terrace.
Capital Gate is financed by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company to provide facilities for conference visitors but the hotel feels eerily quiet. At dinner in 18° there was only a handful of guests. The lobby lounge is well designed but I was the only guest to appreciate it.
The architecture. Capital Gate has a genuine "wow" factor thanks to the way that the leaning glass tower is embraced by the criss-crossing corset of steel. Once inside your room you can almost touch this external frame, which is only about a foot and a floor-to-ceiling sheet of glass away. Couple this with the views out across the island and out to sea, and the effect is mesmerising.
Spotting a workman making a hasty exit along the steel frame next to my window. Final works aside, guest privacy should be sacrosanct.
If this hotel were perched beside the Corniche rather than Adnec, it would be one of the city's most popular venues.
The bottom line
A double room costs from Dh788 per night including taxes (abudhabi.capitalgate.hyatt.com; 02 596 1234).
Updated: June 8, 2012 04:00 AM