The hotel is in a league of its own, with views of the city’s canal on one end, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on the other

Growing up in Abu Dhabi, there wasn’t much outside the main city, so we hardly ever wandered down there. The vicinity in which the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal are now located in, was miles away back then and seemed like a 30-minute drive. Of course, with the addition of highways, a cluster of hotels, and landmarks located nearby, this area near Al Maqta bridge has become quite the spot for a staycation, spa day, and a memorable dinner.

As we arrived, we learnt that this spacious hotel – boasting architecture from the Italian Renaissance – is in fact a resort. A private beach flanks the grounds, with access right near the 1,600 sq. m. outdoor pool. If you have visited a Ritz-Carlton property around the world, you will know that the grand staircase is one of their main features. Here, it leads to lush gardens, trickling fountains, a Venetian Village boasting a plethora of standalone restaurants and bars, and an exceptional spa.ritz-Carlton abu dhabi grand canalThe suite

The Ritz-Carlton offers an array of guest rooms, suites, villas and residences, with views of either the beach, pool or garden. The Club Room features an expansive living room with natural light flooding the space, and balconies that look out to most of the hotel’s backyard. Guests that are particular about their pillow can choose a type – from ultra-cushy to hard – as they sink into plush beds with 400 thread count Egyptian cotton linen. Those touring the city will love a soak in the tub, with Asprey bath salts, at the end of a long day.ritz-Carlton abu dhabi grand canalAccess to the Club Lounge was perhaps one of the best inclusions to the suite. All Club Level guests are offered access, making it a great spot for a quick bite and tipple, afternoon tea, and a space to work from, while enjoying stunning views of the premises – it’s worth a visit at night when the pool is all lit up.ritz-Carlton abu dhabi grand canalTreat yourself

Tucked away at the Venetian Village in the Ritz-Carlton, the 21,500 sq. ft. ESPA showcases a Bedouin-setting with neutral hues that mimic the desert, flowing seamlessly throughout the 16 treatment rooms. Separate relaxation areas are available for ladies and gentlemen, with a sauna, steam room, ice fountain, private beach and plunge pools to use before or after.

ritz-Carlton abu dhabi grand canalThe Inner Calm massage is one to opt for if you’re looking for a deeply relaxing and soothing treatment. Oils are massaged into the skin with short and long palm- and hand-techniques, after which a warm neck- and eye-pillow is placed on, while the aromatherapy massage continues. It ends with an amazing deep scalp mask and massage that lets you snooze for a few minutes, before rose quartz crystals are rubbed through your scalp and forehead, for an instant calming feeling that lingers.

ritz-Carlton abu dhabi grand canal

Culinary offerings

Plenty of options are available to suit any craving you may have. For a light casual lunch before a laze-around by the pool, we headed to Al Fresco. The breezy nautical-style pool and beach restaurant serves an incredible international menu with a Mexican-twist. Try the shrimp tacos, sustaining beef burritos, and a bowl with heaps of nachos, chilli and guacamole, accompanied by a pink lemonade.

Li Jiang, the hotel’s in-house Southeast Asian eatery, is where you will want to relish an incredible meal. Begin with crispy fried garlic prawns and chicken dumplings, and crunchy tempura soft shell crab with lemon mayonnaise and spicy green mango salad. For mains, the chef is happy to customise your fried rice. We had a Singaporean-style creation to soak up the juices from the tender chilli prawns and mouthwatering Rendang Wagyu short rib.

The portions are generous, so order as you go along. We were recommended the fried ice cream – a decadent crisp tempura coating that encloses a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, with warm chocolate sauce as the base – to polish off the meal. This is best enjoyed on the terrace, where you can take in the views of the Grand Mosque and listen to tunes by the DJ.

Need to know: The one-bedroom Club Room starts at Dhs1,435 per night. The hotel’s finest option for a family, or those looking for privacy, is the plunge pool two-bedroom villa for Dhs4,835 per night. Visit ritzcarlton.com