Best family hotels in Abu Dhabi with wave pools, kids clubs and theme-park access

With interconnecting rooms, lazy rivers and water slides, these resorts come highly recommended when travelling with children

Ten of the best family-friendly hotels in Abu Dhabi, from Warner Brothers to the desert. Photo: Hilton
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Summer is here and one easy way to beat the heat is to invest in a local staycation where a change of scenery and access to a chilled swimming pool await. For those travelling with children, Abu Dhabi has a plethora of places to stay that are packed with family-friendly facilities.

From an all-inclusive escape on Saadiyat Island to a desert retreat where you can reconnect with nature, these top 10 family-friendly hotels in Abu Dhabi ensure children come first.

Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental

The palatial Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental might not spring to mind as the first child-friendly hotel you’d think of in Abu Dhabi, but the sprawling palace at the tip of the capital’s Corniche has plenty to offer families. Spacious rooms – the smallest of which are 55 square metres – mean there’s plenty of space for the whole family and there's a host of dining outlets so even the fussiest of eaters will find something to their liking.

Outside is where this hotel really comes into its own for children. The hotel has two temperature-controlled swimming pools with the West Pool geared towards families with slides, waterfalls and a lazy river.

A private beach offers plenty of space for children including wooden swing sets on the shore and the adjacent inflatable AquaFun Park offers a novel way to cool off during hot summer days.

There’s also a kids play zone where children aged four to 12 can enjoy supervised activities and kids tennis lessons (chargeable). Babysitting services are also available on request and there is a summer kids camp and pop-up teen space running until September.

Emirates Park Zoo & Resort

Fancy waking up to the sound of exotic birds and monkeys? Emirates Park Zoo was renovated in 2019 to add a family-friendly chalet area so that visitors can spend a night among the wildlife. Chalets are spacious with living and dining areas, plus animal-themed artwork and all come with private terraces, many of which offer views directly over the giraffe enclosure.

All guests have complimentary zoo access and can catch bird shows, magic shows and talks about the animals. Guests spending the night at Emirates Park Zoo can also get discounts on the resort’s animal experiences including lunch with leopards, dinner with the elephants or breakfast with giraffes.

There’s also an outdoor swimming pool, ideal for cooling off after a morning visiting the animals, and a large restaurant where breakfast is served daily.

The WB Abu Dhabi, Curio Collection by Hilton

The world’s first Warner Bros hotel on Yas Island is a no-brainer for families travelling with children. Part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, the six-storey hotel is the place to go for round-the-clock cartoons by the pool, impromptu Warner Bros' character pop-ups and a splash pad complete with mini sunloungers and parasols.

There’s an indoor and outdoor kids club, well-thought-out children’s menus in the restaurants and a child-height buffet breakfast station. Guests can even opt to have room service delivered by Bugs Bunny, although the milk and cookie delivery doesn’t come cheap.

Adults don’t need to sacrifice a relaxing escape either, with the Overlook rooftop infinity pool bar the perfect place to unwind while children play in the kids club. There’s also a rich library of archival Warner Bros' movie memorabilia, which will appeal to guests of all ages. Best of all, guests get free access to Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi for every night of their stay – and it’s less than a minute walk from the hotel.

Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara

For a trip to remember, book a stay at Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara. Located on Sir Bani Yas Island, this is one for a special occasion – even getting to the resort is an adventure as it’s about a two and a half hour drive from Abu Dhabi city and only accessible via ferry from the mainland.

Once on the protected wildlife sanctuary island, families can check-in at Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara, where all rooms and suites come with ocean views. Designed with families in mind, the resort has three swimming pools and three restaurants to choose from.

Action-packed stays await in this coastal escape including family nature drives where experienced guides will help children spot giraffes, ostriches and cheetahs. Afterwards, head to the animal farm to see the conservation and breeding efforts and get up close to baby gazelles and Arabian oryx.

There are also falcon shows, where children can meet the birds of prey, archery lessons and an easy bike trail around the lagoon. A supervised kids club with indoor and outdoor play areas caters for children aged four to 12 and is ideal for when mum and dad need some downtime.

Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island

The only hotel to have opened at Yas Bay, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island is perfect for family getaways. The main swimming pool is a long, palm-lined effort with plenty of space for children to play and there’s also an adjacent kids club which has its own splash pad and fountain play area, as well as a funky indoor space where children can try arts and crafts and watch cartoons.

Graphos Social Kitchen is the huge all-day-dining space, offering cuisine from around the world and children under 12 can choose from a dedicated kids menu at all of the hotel's restaurants.

Suites are not only huge, but cleverly designed with the lounge sofa transforming into a bed, a separate guest bathroom and sliding doors between bedroom and lounge that allows adults to put children to bed, slide the door closed and not have to remain too hushed in the master suite.

The hotel is within easy walking distance to Central – where families can enjoy ten-pin bowling and arcade games and guests also get complimentary access to one Yas Island theme park per stay – meaning Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi or Seaworld Yas Island can easily be part of the getaway plans.

Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas

On one of Abu Dhabi’s most pristine coastlines, Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas has a 9km private beach, a sprawling temperature-controlled swimming pool and rooms that come with Arabian Gulf views. There’s also the option of booking family rooms with interconnecting doors or a beach villa that has its own private pool.

As well as having plenty of space to swim and play, the pool also has a lazy river, water slide and splash pad that’s only for children under four. Aladdin’s Cave is the children’s club, open to little ones aged four to 12 years with an indoor and outdoor space and a cinema zone. Teenagers can also chill out in their own dedicated space and the whole family can get active at the mini-golf course and tennis courts.

Bab Al Nojoum, Al Hudayriyat Island

Glamping by the seaside awaits holidaymakers at Bab Al Nojoum at Hudayriat Island. Take the kids on an adventure on this island, just 15 minutes outside the city. Choose from a range of accommodation including basic camping tents, vintage trailers, camper vans, lodge-style chalets and duplex tents that come with private pools.

All tents come with a barbecue area and private picnic space, and the resort also has an on-site restaurant if you don’t want to self cater. Children will love having unrivalled access to the private beach and there’s a host of activities on offer with everything from beach volleyball and a children’s playground, to watersports and an outdoor cinema.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

The five-star Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi resort in the Al Maqta area of the city was inspired by the colourful Renaissance architecture of Venice. Set on the waterfront, it has a private beach with views of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, landscaped gardens and one of the city’s largest outdoor pools, as well as a shaded children’s pool.

There are eight restaurants to choose from, including Giornotte, a family-friendly Italian-inspired all-day-dining establishment.

The Ritz Kids programme is open to children aged four to 12 and offers supervised indoor and outdoor activities including football, arts and crafts, games and scavenger hunts. Book a garden suite for a spacious room on the ground floor that comes with its own private garden and terrace.

Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island

The all-inclusive Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island resort is a great choice for a staycation where there won’t be any surprises over the bill when it comes to check-out. Everything needed for an Abu Dhabi getaway is included at this Saadiyat Island hotel, which has its own private beach, several swimming pools, a water park, wave pool and six restaurants to choose from.

The Rixy Kids Club is a huge venue that’s open to children aged from four to 14. It offers a whole range of indoor and outdoor supervised activities including face painting, bowling, arts and crafts, cooking classes, a children’s cinema and a Rixy disco.

Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Set amid Al Wathba’s sand dunes about 40 minutes outside Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa is a good choice for families when a change of scenery is needed. The peaceful retreat has 99 guests rooms, suites and villas all designed in a traditional Arabian style, and the villas also come with private plunge pools.

When it comes to dining, there are four restaurants to choose from with everything from casual dining to Mediterranean-inspired eats.

The resort has a stunning 1,000-square-meter infinity pool overlooking the dunes, a swim-up bar and children’s pool. There’s also a Flow Rider wave simulator for those keen on surfing in the middle of the desert.

The resort's kids club offers a host of activities and the whole family can make the most of the resort’s desert playground, including camel rides, pony rides and evening desert walks.

Updated: June 30, 2023, 10:10 AM