When it comes to New York City, Ian Schrager hardly needs an introduction. From his glory glam days as the co-founder of mythical nightclub Studio 54 to eventually creating and then perfecting the “boutique hotel” concept in the Big Apple and then abroad (through his Edition Hotel portfolio and the newly-launched Public), he’s become an auteur of sorts for enjoyment. With the recent opening of The Abu Dhabi Edition, Schrager makes his Middle East debut, and like all things the club-kid-turned-hotelier touches, it doesn’t disappoint.
Open officially as of this past November—when Lewis Hamiltons’ F1 victory party doubled as the spaces’ informal debut—The Abu Dhabi Edition is the first contemporary hotel of its kind in the United Arab Emirates capital city, where grandiosity and excess has typically prevailed. Though the Edition is not without its fair share of luxuries (a near-perfectly suggested steak at Tom Aikens’ Oak Room by the restaurant’s meat sommelier will clear up any of those misconceptions), the venue is understated in its charisma, which exudes both striking style and modern ease.
Beneath an intricate lattice-like shell somewhat similar to the city’s recently-opened Louvre museum, The Abu Dhabi Edition’s design mirrors the marina around which it spans. The façade itself is a reference to the lateen sails of the traditional Dhow boats that the region was once known for crafting, while, inside the curved atrium features a sinuously shaped balustrade that echoes this movements of water. Looking out of the oak herringbone timber floored 198 guest rooms and 57 residences, the Arabian Gulf fills the horizon, while the venue’s two penthouses—the Marina and the Royal—themselves were constructed to resemble the prow of a boat protruding out over the water around it.
In addition to two purpose-built gyms, outfitted with the usual cardio equipment but also an impressive selection of free-weights and extra equipment; an intensive wellness spa that has seven treatment rooms and even its own hammam; The Abu Dhabi Edition features three signature restaurants created by Aikens, who worked with Joël Robuchon and Gerard Boyer, before earning two Michelin stars as head chef of London’s Pied à Terre at the age of 26—the youngest chef in the world to do so. At the entrance of the hotel, Market offers casual yet healthy dining in an al-fresco setting. Fresh squeezed juices and ripe greens and grains reflect the space’s mantra to make use of each and every ingredient to its entirety. Beside the hotel’s pool and facing the Marina, Alba Terrace brings day to night, with Mediterranean flavor and the seduction of night life. Here, light aperitivi and herb-inspired cocktails are paired with fresh tuna, sultry scallops, and other light bites. Lastly, for a formal affair, the English oak paneled Oak Room offers a menu of the most hard-to-come by dishes in the Middle East, beautifully prepared behind the frosted glass-fronted butchery.
While certain other details ensure the visit is special —such as the photo prints by Brett Weston in each of the guests’ rooms or the curfew-free, gin-led party at the Library Bar—it’s the experience in totality that marks itself as truly worth it. Part urban getaway, part boat-side bazaar, The Abu Dhabi Edition is an unforgettable adventure with the comfort (and fan favorite smell of Le Labo) of just what you needed.END
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