The world’s first and only Warner Bros hotel opened in Abu Dhabi in 2021 with a star-studded launch featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and many more much-loved characters from Warner Bros’ vast entertainment dynasty.
Located steps away from Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi – the world's largest indoor theme park – The WB Abu Dhabi, Curio Collection by Hilton promises guests an animated stay in the UAE capital.
The National headed to Yas Island to find out exactly what's in store for travellers checking in.
My 10-year-old niece is joining me for this stay and her excitement levels are high as we drive towards the entrance. Passing the bright orange sofa and fountain from the opening credits of hit nineties-sitcom Friends adds another dose of excitement, this time from my sister who is also checking in with us.
Pulling up outside the entranceway, just beside a blacked-out Batmobile, we leave the car with the valet staff, pass a trolley piled high with luggage from various Warner Bros' characters and head through the hotel’s revolving doors.
Inside, an all-white marblelike animated mural behind the check-in desk depicts scenes from the entertainment company's history, and guests lounge around on comfortable-looking sofas and chairs – many of them watching towering digital pillars that display revolving content, from animations to film clips, all created by Warner Bros.
Check-in is quick and, despite our early arrival, our room is ready so we head straight to the fifth floor.
On Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the hotel is less than 100 steps from Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi – we counted. Guests enjoy free access to the park, and its hundreds of attractions and rides are split across several zones where themes run from Gotham City to Bedrock River.
Entertainment is a key factor at this hotel and all guests get entry to one of Yas Island’s theme parks for each night of their stay. Yas Mall is nearby for shopping, dining and cinema options, as are Yas Bay and Yas Marina – both of which offer a choice of unique restaurants with waterfront views.
We’re staying in an King Artists Room, which sleeps up to three guests and spans 35 square metres with sleek parquet flooring and huge floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the swimming pool. My niece loves being able to sit on the bed and watch the film being screened poolside while her mum and I are getting ready for dinner.
There is original WB framed artwork on the wall – in our case cinematic prints from Green Lantern (2011) – and lots of quirky additions including a comic book, Smeg minibar, retro style telephone and Marshall radio.
The adjacent bathroom is beautifully decorated in monochromatic tiles with a Hollywood-style dressing mirror and a walk-in shower. Though it's not the biggest hotel bathroom, meaning there's no room for his and hers sinks.
A huge king-size bed takes up the middle of the room, and there’s a stylish chaise longue. An extra roll-out bed is brought to our room upon request, and there's plenty of space for this too. Built-in wardrobes offer ample storage space, and a 55-inch screen television is ideal for movie nights.
The use of plastic water bottles in the room is a disappointing discovery.
As a Curio Collection hotel from Hilton, a brand known for its impeccable service, I have high standards for service, but the reality turns out to be a little hit and miss.
Reception and check-in is on point, with smiling staff swiftly checking us in and providing just the right amount of information about the hotel. Our luggage is also very swiftly delivered to our room. But it's a different story when lounging poolside or eating at the Matinee restaurant.
By the pool, guests are left to fend for themselves with none of the perks that many other hotels in the emirate offer – such as orders for refreshments taken by your lounger or staff assisting guests with towels on sunbeds.
Trying to order lunch at Matinee is also a challenge and at one point I’m told to go to a small window behind the pool bar to place my order. The busy barman isn't able to attend to me for at least 10 minutes, and when I finally try to place my order, he informs me that several menu items are out of stock. I then need to cross all the way back to the other side of the pool to tell my guests and take new orders, then return to the back of the bar – where trolleys are loaded up with cleared dishes and glasses – and wait again to finally place my order.
It’s the complete opposite at dinnertime when staff in The Directors' Club go out of their way to be accommodating and helpful.
As the world’s first WB hotel, the resort has plenty of features that set it apart from the crowd. The huge swimming pool is perfectly temperature controlled and the children’s splash pool is adorable – with tiny striped sun loungers and parasols, water jet fountains and front-row seats to the giant poolside screen, which plays Warner Bros cartoons around the clock – a dream for parents, not so much for those holidaying without children.
In the building behind the pool, the WB Kids club offers daily activities for children, and staff seem genuinely passionate about what they do. A surprise visit from Bugs Bunny during kids' club hours gets a thumbs up from my niece.
On the rooftop, the Overlook is a great place for parents to get some downtime, and as an adult-only venue is perfect for those who don’t have little ones. The infinity pool is beautiful, with in-water loungers and sun beds surrounding it. As a DJ provides the ambience, it's easily the best spot in the house for sunset views.
A well-equipped fitness suite is ideal for those looking to keep their gym goals on track. There's also a spa, but we don't get chance to try it. In the lobby, a piano that fans might recognise from Westworld plays tunes all on its own, and a spiral staircase contains hundreds of images, props and memorabilia carefully curated from the WB image archives.
Warner Bros' fans who want to take a slice of the action home with them can head to the merch-stocked Propshop.
Dining options range from Sidekicks, which has a fantastic kids' selection as part of its buffet breakfast, the Matinee restaurant for poolside fare and The Overlook, where the menu offers refined bites, antipasti and sushi, as well as a wide variety of mixed beverages and an upbeat Saturday brunch. There's also a small coffee shop in the lobby.
The Directors' Club is the hotel’s signature restaurant, open daily for dinner and also for lunch on weekends. Sophisticated and spacious, it nods stylishly to moviemaking magic with black-and-white prints on the walls, exposed brickwork and an illuminated WB movie logo on the wall. Plush leather seating is reminiscent of Hollywood days of old, furthered by original Warner Bros memorabilia dotted around the restaurant, including old tripod cameras.
The menu offers a good selection of dishes without being overly extensive. I opt for the baked scallops (Dh145) to start, and it is beautifully presented and served with potato mouselling and salad leaves. Steaks are the speciality here and my sister opts for the Australian Wagyu and is happily satisfied. For children, the reasonably priced kids' menu has a curated collection of seven dishes, including a smaller sized grilled steak served with French fries (Dh50).
For a sweet ending, we share a massive New York cheesecake (Dh45) and a baked Alaska (Dh50), which comes with its own tableside show as the server sets the sauce on fire then pours it all over the fluffy peaks of the pudding, cueing intrigue not only from our table, but from diners seated either side of us.
Highs and lows
Non-stop films and cartoons playing by the pool mean children are easily entertained, giving parents highly appreciated relaxation time – “parental heaven” is how my sister describes the set-up. The sheer volume of authentic memorabilia and attention to detail throughout the hotel is impressive.
The property doesn’t cope as well as expected when near to full capacity. The elevators are painfully slow – something that we see cause friction between guests – and there are long queues at breakfast for a table either in Sidekicks, or in the overflow breakfast set-up on the lobby level.
The Insider tip
One of the highlights of a stay at The WB Abu Dhabi is the unique extras it offers, such as being able to get room service delivered by Bugs Bunny. While the service isn’t cheap (Dh350 for milk and cookies) it’s such a novelty that I decide to organise it for my niece.
Unfortunately, when I try, I'm told that there’s a minimum 24-hour set-up time, meaning it isn’t possible during our one-night stay. If you want to take advantage of this highly overpriced-but-sure-to-delight service, call ahead of time to request it.
Also bring headphones if you want to drown out the sounds of cartoons as you sunbathe.
While it doesn’t go quite as far as we might have expected in terms of creating a truly unique experience, the world’s first Warner Bros hotel is a stylishly executed spot that is sure to delight children of all ages. Free access and easy entry to the world's largest indoor theme park right next door is the cherry on top.
The bottom line
Rooms start from Dh900 over summer, excluding taxes. All guests registered in the room have access to one Yas Island Theme Park per night of stay. Check-in is from 3pm and check-out is at 11am.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future.