McKelvie’s Cities – Abu Dhabi

| January 3, 2016

Abu Dhabi may not be the first name that trips off your lips when you think of a city break. But these days many people find themselves with that option for an Etihad Airways stopover and it’s one I would take having recently spent a few days there. The constant sunshine is, of course, a major attraction, but there is great hotels and restaurants, dune bashing, world class shopping a splash of culture too.




Midday – Check into the Hilton Abu Dhabi, one of the city’s oldest luxury hotels. It enjoys a privileged location right on the lifeblood Corniche behind a sandy beach.

1.30pm – Abu Dhabi boasts a superb array of global cuisines. Koi offers top-notch sushi and sashimi that wouldn’t be out of place in Osaka.

3pm – Abu Dhabi these days is, of course, renowned, for its annual Formula 1 Grand Prix. It is also home to Ferrari World, a spectacular attraction for more than just lovers of the sport.

8pm – Vasco’s at the Hilton sits right on the edge of the Arabian Gulf with views of the rapidly emerging Abu Dhabi skyline. The menu offers the likes of local prawns and white fish.




9am – The Hilton has its own beach club, which is free for guests. It boasts three swimming pools, cafes and a beach. The sun loungers on the beach are also free.

Midday – Unusually for a luxury hotel the Hilton offers an Arabic café, where you can taste traditional Emirati food such as mixed grills and pitta bread by the beach.

2pm – In a city of ultra-modern gleaming skyscrapers the most dramatic building is not a skyscraper, though its minarets do soar into the heavens. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is truly breathtaking in scale and design no matter your beliefs.

4pm – For a unique view of the Abu Dhabi skyline head to Al Mina Port, where you can hop on one of Diamond Line’s jet skis.

8pm – Sample authentic Emirati cuisine at Mezlai. The setting is a lavish one and ideal for dinners that rapidly become feasts.





Relax at the Hilton’s Hiltonia spa. They offer myriad treatments – the most popular is a one and half hour massage followed by a facial, ideal before a long flight.


Best For  Ideal for a stopover for a day or two when flying between Europe and Asia/Australasia. Or for Winter sun.

McKelvie’s Cities Rating – 12/20. A sunny stopover, with enough to keep you going for a long weekend too.

Getting There – I was lucky enough to be flying there with Etihad in their Business cabin from Edinburgh. I can see now why they have won so many awards. They are rapidly expanding too so the chances are that they will have flights from an an airport quite near you too.

I travel a lot and have used 100s of websites. One kills it for me with flights – Skyscanner. I’m not just saying that because like me they are based in Edinburgh! I love that they charge no commission and search budget and scheduled carriers. See for yourself by clicking below.

Tourist Information – Abu Dhabi tourism website.


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