Why Rixos Premium hotel
It was the only hotel that met our three requirements:
- be in Abu Dhabi
- have a private beach
- the price per night needed to be close to the amount of our hotel voucher
The Rixos Premium ended up being the most expensive hotel available in Abu Dhabi for the dates I wanted, and it happened to not only have a private beach, but was an “all-inclusive” hotel. We only had to pay extra for the taxes (which the voucher did not cover).
Health & safety protocols at the hotel
A day after I made our online booking, we received a confirmation email from the hotel which included details of all the health and safety protocols they would have in place. The document contained all the usual things such as: regular sanitizing, temperature checks, face masks, gloves, social distancing, no buffets in the restaurants, closure of many of the facilities, such as the playgrounds, pool and spa.
I particularly liked the 60% capacity and “beach zones”.
What our room was like
When we arrived to our room, we found a strip of paper with “Clean Label” printed on it. One end was stuck to the doorframe and the other end, to the door. Once we opened the door, the label ripped. I guess this identified which rooms had been cleaned and that no guests (or anyone else, really) had since entered the clean room.
Inside our room we found two face masks, two pairs of gloves, and a bottle of hand-sanitizer. The room seemed like it had been thoroughly cleaned. For extra piece of mind, I wiped down most surfaces we would touch with Clorox wipes and sprayed the room with Dettol anti-bacterial disinfectant that I had brought from home.
Our room was very spacious. It had a king bed, bathtub (something I am a huge fan of for those that know me), and a small balcony, with a partial view of the beach.
Our room was located on the 4th floor at the end of a corridor. There were 3-5 rooms along that corridor but during our stay, there were no other guests staying in them.
What we got up to
Ate. Went to the beach. Ate. Slept. Ate.
After we checked in at reception, we went to lunch, then to the beach, then chilled out in the room, then to dinner, then to drinks, then to bed, and then to breakfast. Ahhh… life. This must be how cats feel, 24/7.
The private beach
The beach was lovely… as lovely as a visit to a beach during summer here, could be. The ocean was clean, clear… and warm, so it felt like swimming in a bath (but I loved it nonetheless because the last time I swam was over six months ago). The beach chairs were sorted into zones (per the above health & safety notice). There were plenty of beach chairs available.
What the food was like
We had lunch and breakfast in the Turquoise restaurant. The food was good. Pre-COVID, the breakfast (and maybe also the lunch) would have been buffet style. During our visit, it was unlimited a la carte.
For lunch I ordered the chicken schnitzel, beef tenderloin, and meatballs. Husband ordered the salmon, and carrot cake.
For breakfast we had crepes fruit, watermelon juice, poached eggs with sides, and bread.
For dinner, we went to the onsite Japanese restaurant, Aja. We ordered calamari, salmon ceviche, beef tenderloin, an assortment of sushi and sashimi, cotton candy ice cream, and Yuzu flavoured cheesecake.
Between meals and after dinner, we went to the Lobby Bar for coffee and cake, and cocktails. The Lobby Bar was opened in the morning for drinks and had sandwiches and donuts. During the day it had amazing, fancy pastries. And at night time, it served savoury snacks alongside a decent range of cocktails.
The coffee was really good for a hotel (most of the coffee I’ve had here in hotels has been disgusting).
Not all the restaurants at the hotel were opened. I believe at least three other eateries were closed during the time of our visit. But I think there was still enough food and drink for one to consume and be satisfied during their stay.
Rixos Premium, Saadiyat overall
Our stay was great. I was a bit worried because the online reviews were quite mixed for the hotel.
The staff were fantastic – they were attentive, friendly, helpful, and just made our stay feel very special. And for once, I could say that all staff members were equally amazing – from reception, waiters, towel guy on the beach, security staff – everyone!
The room was lovely. It was no Emerald Palace (he he that’s my benchmark of “wow”) but it was beautifully decorated and clean.
The food was good. Turquoise was a bit basic but fine. Aja was very good, especially the salmon sashimi and beef tenderloin. Lobby Bar was very good, especially the afternoon pastries.
Lastly, and most importantly for me right now, the stay was excellent because of all the health and safety measures in place. I did not feel worried or have any doubts.
Staycay during the pandemic
I wrote the below questions before our visit because these were some of my biggest concerns. Now, safely back home, I am surprised with how straightforward my answers are:
- Did it feel safe? Yes. There were masks, gloves, sanitizer, temperature checks almost at every turn. People were practising social distancing and being very considerate towards others.
- Did it feel clean? Yes. Anywhere from the communal areas, to the beach, to our room, to the restaurants.
- Did I have any concerns/feel worried during our stay? No. Both staff and guests were compliant with the restrictions without any fuss.
My only real worry before going was whether I could still fit into my bikini… my lockdown lifestyle has been pretty bad.
- Was it busy? The hotel was busier than I expected but since it could not run at more than 60% capacity, it wasn’t packed.
- Who were the other guests? Groups of young adults, families with young children (approx 10 years and under), couples. These guests mostly kept to themselves.
- Could this be how travel would be like in the near future? Absolutely, but this kind of hotel stay could only work in countries/societies that show respect for each other, where everyone complies with all the restrictions and guidelines without resistance.
- Would I recommend staycaying/ would I do it again? Yes. I’d do another staycay in Abu Dhabi as long as the hotel took their health and safety seriously like the Rixos Premium. There were little perks that were no longer available due to the new health and safety precautions such as valet parking, buffets, and turn-down service (without requesting it) but nothing to cry over.
Why we travelled (staycay) during the pandemic
- we had a US $450 (AU $570 / £325) hotels.com voucher to use (August expiry).
- Abu Dhabi/UAE has handled the pandemic amazingly so far, and I believe that if the UAE experiences a surge, it will be dealt with swiftly and seriously. This is probably an understatement with how well the UAE has done when compared to other countries (yeah, you know which ones).
I think this is due to a few reasons, some being:
– testing has been a priority from the beginning. The government made it easily available, accessible, and affordable (most times, free!). The UAE have even donated millions of testing kits to the US to help. Also, Husband gets tested every third week for his work (he had been tested since this staycay).
– the majority of people here adhere to the guidelines, rules, restrictions set by the government.
I am naturally, a very risk-averse person and we have largely been hermits since February and our stance has not really changed. Going away for the night was not a decision I made without deliberation. We would not have gone if the UAE were not in such a good situation right now.
Until next time, stay safe, stay well.
And as always, thank you for reading.