In 2016 we headed to Iceland for a week at the end of November/beginning December and even though we had an amazing time and Iceland now features high on our top 5 countries we have ever visited list, it was soooo bloody cold (I guess the clue is in its name). Therefore, when planning our November/December jolly for 2017 we decided early on that it would be somewhere hot. The winters in England are long and cold and who doesn’t love a bit of sun? Having visited Dubai last year in May for my birthday and loving it (even though it was too hot – yes I’m like Goldilocks needing a specific temperature) we knew the UAE was the top contender. So when we found bargain flights with Etihad for just under £250 to Abu Dhabi we snapped them up and started planning our winter sun getaway.
It’s been a tough old year on a personal level so we both agreed that our trip would be one that would involve a lot of doing nothing. Yep, we were actually going to have a holiday – no itinerary, no deliverables, and no pressure. Instead, we planned to eat, drink, sunbathe, swim and generally just do what we fancied when we fancied it. Even though I struggled to unwind for the first day I soon got into the swing of the relaxing and as soon as I had felt the pressure lift, unfortunately, it was time to come home again. We have already put a week aside at the same time next year to indulge in a week of stress-free living. Doha and Muscat are currently at the top of our list however if we can get sale flights to Abu Dhabi again, we wouldn’t be disappointed. It is a great, up and coming, city and here are our reasons why it is a great place to head if you are a looking for a winter sun break.
The historical weather was the main reason we chose Abu Dhabi and it certainly did not disappoint, especially as back home it was snowing. We were lucky enough to have temperatures of between 27 and 29 degrees each day, with just one day when it dropped to 25 degrees, making it perfect conditions for lazing around the pool and taking a dip every now and again. I think Mr ESLT would have liked it to be slightly hotter (crazy, I know), whereas it was the perfect temperature for me. However, the first day I did get sunburnt as I just didn’t realise just how hot it was, the nice breeze and the odd cloud completely threw me off. After that I was completely on the ball with applying my sun lotion, wearing a hat and finding shade during the peak sunshine hours, I didn’t think the lobster look was a good one to be sporting for the full week.
If just chilling out and lazing by the pool is something you just can’t do (it took me a solid two days to realise doing nothing is ok!) or simply have no interest in, not to worry there are plenty of things to keep you, and the whole family, occupied in Abu Dhabi. Our favourite things were visiting the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, taking a bus tour around the city and admiring the amazing architecture together with visiting the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. There are of course loads of other stuff to see and do in Abu Dhabi, all of which is on our list for our next visit including visiting the Heritage Centre (which was closed when we visited as it was the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday) and all the attractions on YAS Island including Ferrari World, YAS Waterworld and Warner Bros. World, which is due to open this year at some point. Again the weather at this time of year is perfect for visiting the attractions as, during the height of summer when temperatures can hit over 50 degrees, it would simply be too hot.
The Chilled Out Vibe
Maybe it was the time of year we visited, but Abu Dhabi seemed very chilled out and no way near has hectic as Dubai. We arrived only 2 days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (to be held 22nd – 25th November 2018) and expected the city to still be thriving with people who had extended their weekend into a full week’s stay but it seemed not to be the case. As November/December is classed as winter, that may put a few people off, however as mentioned above the weather was perfect, especially for a pale skinned Brit like me. On the days we headed out to explore there were, of course, people around, but in general not that many. Abu Dhabi is a very spread out city with a lot of construction taking place. It is a very up and coming place with loads of new hotels, skyscrapers and attractions planned, maybe over time it will become more like Dubai. We enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t that busy as it meant that we did not have to wait in long queues for anything – another great reason why Abu Dhabi is a great winter holiday destination.
The Food & Drink
As our trip to Abu Dhabi was intended to be a chill out holiday even before we left England we had agreed that we would enjoy all the food and drink Abu Dhabi had to offer and it did not disappoint. Our hotel had a club lounge, which we had access to. The club lounge included breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening tapas – basically more food then we could shake a stick at. A lot of the big 4 and 5 Star hotels have club lounges and paying to upgrade to have access is often worth it as eating in Abu Dhabi can cost big bucks. As can drinking, although we noticed it was actually a lot cheaper compared to the prices we had paid previously in Dubai. Don’t forget Ladies Night on Tuesdays, where most hotels allow ladies to drink free, either for a certain number of drinks or in some places all night. The one thing we were really looking forward to was Friday Brunch, which is a must whilst in Abu Dhabi. However, as it was the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday on the Friday we were there, it meant no booze could be served anywhere in the UAE. Therefore we took the decision not to have Brunch as the bottomless martinis are, for us, the best part.
Shopping is a big thing in Abu Dhabi and there are a number of shopping malls to visit, with new ones being built all the time. We visited at least three during our visit. The Galleria which was connected to our hotel and home to a number of high-end shops perfect for designer label lovers, visiting also allowed me to pick up a massive haul from Sephora (I think I have enough pomegranate facemasks to last me all year!). We also visited the YAS Mall whilst we were on YAS Island where we found a lot of high street shops and The Cheesecake Factory (yum). We also hopped into the Marina Mall, albeit just for a toilet and quick drink stop. Prices were very comparable to the UK with technology being slightly cheaper. It was a great time to visit as it meant that I could and did do a lot of Christmas shopping without having to do battle Hunger Games style with people in my local shopping centre.
Abu Dhabi obviously has a number of other reasons which makes it a great winter sun destination and in fact an all year round destination (providing you can handle the super high temperatures during the summer months). Have you ever visited? We’d love to know what you enjoyed, or didn’t as the case may be.