After returning from her recent trip to Abu Dhabi, Sophie Bayo, one of our resident travel experts, has been dying to tell us all about it. No longer playing second city to Dubai, Abu Dhabi has become an enviable destination in its own right with inimitable culture, leisure, and entertainment opportunities set amidst stunning beaches and impressive skyscrapers. Feeling curious? Let’s check in with Sophie:

First things first, where did you stay?

Hi guys! I’m just back from a little trip to Abu Dhabi, having spent three nights at Rixos Saadiyat Island. There were lots and lots of positives, so I wanted to share some info (plus a few pics).

Rixos Saadiyat Island’s opulent lobby and Aja restaurant.

And more importantly, how was the food?

All in all the food during our stay was outstanding. On the first night, we booked a 9:30pm reservation at reception for Teppanyaki, which was totally amazing and worthwhile. So much food, great entertainment, and meat cooked just to your liking by a chef. The second night we had an 8:30pm booking at Mermaid seafood restaurant, which was also very good. We knew we were onto a winner when a small selection of dishes for us to try landed on our table before we even ordered!

We were impressed with the menu choice and the table service – they were very attentive with keeping our glasses topped up. Dinner on our final night was spent at L’Ovio enjoying really excellent Italian cuisine. Again, the wine was flowing, fantastic recommendations were given and there was great service throughout.

Rixos Saadiyat Island

Live Teppanyaki show and plate of crab and other seafood at Mermaid restaurant.

We’ve heard Rixos Saadiyat also has a private beach. What did you think?

The beach stood out in terms of facilities and just how beautiful it was. We loved the crystal clear waters with lots of fish and the really clean sand. Towels were available, and lifeguards were always on duty – which is reassuring for families. Just as you approach the beds there is a little hut serving soft drinks and water (no alcohol). A member of staff was also walking around with a cooler bag full of ice creams.

The left hand side of the beach was dedicated to adults only, whilst the right hand side was reserved for families. There was plenty of space in-between beds, and even a library if you were running low on reading material.

Rixos Saadiyat Island

Sophie with her family at the Rixos Saadiyat Island private beach.

Anywhere else to splash out?

Whilst the main pool at Rixos Saadiyat can get busy in high season, there are always three lifeguards on duty making sure everything can be safely enjoyed by everyone. You can only leave your lounger for 45 minutes before staff reclaims it, which we didn’t mind as it meant we could get a bed at all times of the day. There were also loungers available on the grass near the beach and Peoples bistro.

The bar opens at 10am with a great selection of cocktails and other drinks available. Unwind and listen to the gentle poolside music (live saxophone on Fridays) whilst waiters on rollerblades deliver drinks straight to your lounger! We also took full advantage of the ice cream van, fresh fruit, and pretzels on offer all day. For something a little more active, there is also daily pool aerobics, spinning, and boogie bounce.

Rixos Saadiyat Island

Enjoying cocktails and fresh watermelon on sticks by the Main Pool.

What was the absolute highlight of your stay?

We happened to get chatting to a family that had booked with Kenwood Travel. Weirder still, it turned out that I had booked it for them! They were such a lovely family and were having an amazing time. The children apparently loved the Rixy Kids Club, whilst the parents said there were plenty of choices, options and activities. Not one complaint at all.

Rixos Saadiyat Island

A happy coincidence with happy families at Rixos Saadiyat Island.

Any top tips for guests at Rixos Saadiyat?

Yes! Prior reservations are required at most of the à la carte restaurants. If you’re struggling to book using one of the portals, ask someone at reception. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to head back to Turquoise buffet after your dinner to take advantage of the chocolate fountain and cakes. They are definitely not to be missed.

Rixos Saadiyat Island

The highly coveted chocolate fountain and a plate of fruit pancakes.

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