Everything about Abu Dhabi is glamorous. It’s the largest and wealthiest of the seven United Arab Emirates, but unlike the neighboring Dubai, it has managed to hold onto its traditional culture, making it a fascinating city to explore. On the outskirts, you’ll find the tents and camels while flashy Ferraris, blacked-out 4x4s and designer shops line the smart, seafront Corniche boulevard.
Abu Dhabi is one of our favorite Event Destinations for the amazing Grand Prix experience, which takes place on Yas Island, on the eastern side of the city, where there are numerous 5-star hotels, a Ferrari World theme park and the most expensive circuit built in the history of Formula 1. It runs alongside the island’s impressive marina, underneath the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi and past a 60-meter sun tower. Although this is also a great destination to visit around the year – and our Abu Dhabi Destination Guide will lay out exactly how to enjoy this glamorous capital of culture.
Where to Stay
Most F1 drivers and VIPs stay in the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi for the best views and impeccable service. The interiors are sleek and modern, whilst the facade is draped with a colorful LED canopy that adds to the F1 party atmosphere. The eleven dining and lounge venues showcase the first-class cuisine from across the world, including Kazu Japanese restaurant and the cool Latitude and Longitude bar located on the rooftop next to the infinity pool.
When you’re not watching high-speed racing, indulge at the luxury ESPA facility and then party until the early hours at the famed Rush nightclub where you’re likely to bump into the stars of the racing scene. The hotel’s Grand Prix trackside terrace and suite fully cater to the VIP experience, with open bars serving fine champagne and fine wines as well as exclusive daily Q&A sessions with a driver.
In addition to our Abu Dhabi Destination Guide, you can also read our breakdown of the Emirates Palace Hotel as an alternative.
Where to Dine
When it comes to dining, you’re spoilt for choice. Abu Dhabi is home to some of the world’s best restaurants such as Marco Pierre White’s three-Michelin starred Steakhouse & Grill in the Fairmont Al Bahr Hotel. The award-winning celebrity chef brings his culinary expertise to Abu Dhabi, set apart with boundary-pushing cuisine and dazzling interior design, which includes a backlit ‘flame’ wall. The refined menu consists of classic English fare and specialty grilled dishes, including a succulent collection of signature steaks, oysters and caviar, which are wonderfully paired with one of the 500 different wine selections.
What to Do
However, the hottest spot to be during the Grand Prix is on the Amber Lounge celebrity yacht where exclusive parties will be held on Saturday and Sunday night with a star-studded guest list of models, oligarchs and drivers. There’s a fabulous line-up of post-race concerts too, kicking off with the Chemical Brothers on Friday evening, followed by Lionel Richie and Rihanna closing the weekend by playing her only Middle East date on her Anti-World Tour.
Once you’ve had your fill of fast cars and parties, head into the Rub Al Khali desert, known locally as ‘The Empty Quater’ to experience life in the sand dunes. Or else the town of Al Ain is also popular with tourists. This ancient settlement has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years and is considered the spiritual heart of Abu Dhabi. There’s plenty to do here; visit the natural springs, forts, world-famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and stunning central date-palm oasis or drive up the mountain road to the top of Jebel Hafeet for the most breath-taking views of the arid landscapes below.