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The weather is great so here is The Insider’s Guide to Saadiyat Island…

Saadiyat Island is a special place for us. Compared to Yas – the noisier of the island family – it’s where time slows down, the days last forever and a 2 night staycation feels like a week. The (main five-star) resorts on Saadiyat Island are some of the best in the country and although they share the same coastline they are all extremely different. Saadiyat is also home to the Cultural District (housing the Louvre) and a few other places. Read on to find how to pick and plan your stay…

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort

Best for: A truly Modernist Escape

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is something of a modern wonder. Designed by architectural firm DBI, it’s a complete departure from the traditional Arabic design found elsewhere regionally. Upon arrival the contemporary design lends itself more to a modern art gallery than a resort. In terms of impact upon entry the others on this list score highly, but the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island tops the list. The lobby is huge and acts as mezzanine level allowing a gaze down to the ground floor all day restaurant. The scale of the glass wall (how high) looking out onto the Arabian Gulf is show-stopping due to the resort’s proximity to the beach. There is a rooftop bar at this hotel which offers sweeping panoramic views of the glittering azure waters, which is also truly miraculous at night time. Did we also mention the hotel’s commitment to sustainability? During your stay you’ll enjoy non-toxic care products, a limit on single-use plastics in favour of glass, and marine degradable packaging for toiletries.

Mare Mare

Mare Mare has long been one of our favourite Italians and offers dining on the glorious sprawling terrace and inside for the warmer months. The Tagliolimi All’Astice is out of this world, which is homemade pasta with tasty and fresh Canadian lobster. The entire menu is a wonderful blend of Italian delights influenced by the country’s coastal regions and served in a lighthearted and welcoming environment.


Famous for its hip and lively brunches on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, the eco-friendly, understated decor of the interior is in direct contrast with the myriad international cuisine, with hints of Arabic and Asian. Giant mounds of food from live cooking stations and buffets, plus premium beverages, ensure that guests have a delicious adventure of food and drink. The White Brunch starts at AED 350 every Saturday. Guests can also enjoy glorious sea views from the comfort of their seats, and dine there daily from 6:30am-10:30pm. The breakfast is particularly enjoyable with a huge variety of dishes, birdsong from the nearby outdoors, and a pristine sustainable setting.

The Lounge

Once in the resort it would be quite easy to miss The Lounge, after all there is enough going on between the lower floors to keep you busy for days. Take a trip up to the 5th floor and be greeted with an expansive view over the entire resort and Arabian Gulf. Not only is the view fantastic but so is the menu selection on offer. From mocktails, cocktails (classic and non-classic) to a well thought out collection of wines, from new and old world with ample care for each red, white and rose. Keep an eye out for their Jazz, Cheese and Grape night – served with cheese, crackers and sundries – every Saturday AED 275 including house beverages and AED 175 with soft drinks.

Rotana Saadiyat Island

Best for: An Easy Going, Laid Back Stay

Having stayed at the Rotana recently we loved the cosy laid-back vibes and uber friendly staff. There’s a wellness element to this venue as well, with offers and promotions including a two day Self Love Retreat, and Thai massage at their Zen Spa, as well as a Quartz stone massage. The hotel also runs along a pristine 9KM of white sandy beach with a larger-than-average swimming pool inside the resort. Out of the 325 rooms you can choose a more casual suite or from one of their upscale beach villas. Continuing with the wellness elements, you can find a modern gym, tennis court, padel court, football pitch, mini golf course, and beach club. There’s also a kids’ club with a lazy river, splash pool, cinema zone, and water slide – enough to keep the kids entertained while you enjoy the dining options!

Si Ristorante Italiano & Bar

Another great Italian on the island, this one promises to immerse you in authentic dishes from fresh seasonal ingredients. The open kitchen perfectly complements the contemporary and stylishly designed locale, with vibrant colours and rich, dark wooden tones. There’s also a lush bar area, perfect for a pre or post dinner drink as you soak up the sights and sounds away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Hamilton’s Gastropub

Next up on your stay should be at their casual dining pub style outlet, where traditional British and American dishes are served with a smile. Mixing pub vibes with a sports bar, you can also pop by for a drink or two and relax and enjoy the day (or night) whilst enjoying the ambiance. Hamilton’s was actually the very first sports bar and gastropub concept to open on the island and has a legion of loyal fans, not least because of their varied menu, great live music and cosy furnishings.

Turtle Bay Bar & Grill

The Insider’s personal favourite of the three, the luxurious bar and grill offers surf, turf, and other grilled delicacies. Go casual during the day with a more relaxed poolside location, or step out at night time in your sharpest attire for a more decadent, lavish dinner setting. There’s an indoor seating area also for the summer months. For dining options, their Lobster Salad is to die for, while the Seared Scallops and Slow Roasted Tomato Soup are not to be missed. There’s also a range of sushi, sharing dishes, a raw bar, plus grilled steaks, lamb, prawns and catch of the day. Mix these up with some Truffle Fries and Creamy Mash, kick back with a beverage, and watch the sun go down over the terrace.

Park Hyatt

Best for: Palatial Arabic Style with a Contemporary Twist

Bringing all of the glamour and none of the noise from Dubai, The Park Hyatt is a true taste of Arabic luxury at every step of the way. A little pricier than some of our other options, but well worth it, with incredible suites, numerous award-winning restaurants, and a beautiful secluded beach. The decor is sleek, stylish and conservative with conventional Arabic themes, but delivered in a way that appears both innovative and imaginative. If you select one of the beach-facing suites you can watch the glorious sun over the sea from the comfort of your balcony, and even enjoy a bath in the centre of the room and enjoy deluxe toiletries from La Lobo Bergamote.

Beach House

An award-dining, absolutely stunning restaurant on the beach, perfectly blending casual barefoot luxury with the epitome of class and quality dining. We can see exactly why they’re an award winner, with their Italian Head Chef and succulent fresh fish counter. Dishes to try include the salad with apple and spinach leaves, decorated with individual frozen raspberry seeds, plus the lobster pasta, including a large portion of some of the best pasta we’ve ever tasted. Kick back with your friends and family and enjoy an ice-cold glass of Minuty with your lunch, and wander out onto the terrace afterwards for gorgeous views of the beach.


Luxurious interiors and authentic Argentinian cuisine with a Lebanese twist are the forefront of this dining option. Dramatic, dark and sensual, the location blends visuals with velvety flavours of their steaks and other grills, often paired with a variety of rich red South American wines. Inspired by the communal spirit of drinking maté, guests can enjoy a view of the open kitchen and seats around this area, or opt for something more private and intimate on one of their dark corners.

Room Service

We wanted to give the Park Hyatt’s room service a nod, as firstly it’s available 24 hours, so no matter what time you arrive in the Emirates you can be waited on hand and foot. Likewise, the extensive menu also includes options for a romantic dining experience, with candlelight and custom menus and service, perfect if you want to plan something special away from prying eyes. Alternatively the hotel is a popular business venue to impress clients and out-of-towers alike, and deals can be discussed in the privacy of your room over a lunch. 

Rixos Premium

Best for: Its All Inclusive Deal

Gloriously ostentatious, The Rixos is a glittering mirage of chandeliers, high ceilings, sumptuous furnishings with an authentic Turkish vibe, better suited to an Ottoman palace. A true paradise, this resort is the most luxurious of them all. A step in any direction is an experience in the abundance of royal blue and turquoise patterns and tiles, combined with absolute, yet exotic, luxury. The best bit? By far the fact that it is a fully inclusive resort with 10 restaurants and bars, and even its very own waterpark, so you don’t need to venture out anywhere else and can sample Turkish hospitality at its finest.

Aja Asian & Teppanyaki

Asian flavour is at the top of the list here, with a popular sushi and teppanyaki restaurant. There’s also steaks and more conventional dishes including salmon with avocado, and plenty of mocktails to keep the kids entertained. We also recommend the crab salad, duck dishes and the variety of authentic Japanese liquor, served by attentive staff. We also LOVED the decor here, with traditional Asian red and rich tones, but an interesting feature covering the ceiling lighting that could only be described as illuminated candy floss.


Chef Levant holds court here in this casual beach-side venue, providing excellent sights and sounds of the ocean as you sip (and later dip) to your heart’s desire. Abundant with fresh seafood dishes, the Greek-inspired fare is served in a pristine whitewashed setting with a large outdoor terrace. Start your lunch with appetisers including octopus with capers and lemon, marinated sea bass with wholegrain mustard, or buttered shrimps sauteed in garlic, chilli, and tomato. For your mains, indulge in the tasty BBQ prawns with chimichurri, oyster mushrooms and lime, or grilled salmon with lemon butter sauce. The menu here is casual but with enough unique elements to satisfy more discerning diners.


Elegant fine Italian dining with a welcoming atmosphere, this restaurant promises authentic cuisine and classics with a twist. The portion sizes are worth mentioning here, especially on their delicious fresh pasta dishes. Choose from carpaccio or arancini, or go for something more original with beef shin or salmon for mains. They serve oh-so-pretty cocktails too, which look gorgeous next to the pretty desserts (it’s the panna cotta for us!) and you can choose to sit in the main restaurant area or outdoors on the terrace. A little slice of Italy in the heart of the Arabian desert.

St. Regis Abu Dhabi – Saadiyat Island Resort

Best for: Mediterranean Style Opulence with a Dash of Desert Nature

Celebrating Mediterranean elegance with sweeping sand-coloured pillars, crisp white interiors and a smattering of palm trees, the St. Regis is a lush oasis where elegance meets the vividity of nature. Rejuvenate and discover your inner serenity with their famous Iridium Spa, or indulge in one of the 6 on site restaurants, some with sweeping views of their private beach. There’s also an indoor lap pool if the weather’s too hot and you’re keen on your exercise, and relaxing in one of their signature suites you can enjoy private balcony views and their butler service.

Buddha-Bar Beach

Asian fusion cuisine in an incredible outdoor day-to-night setting by the cerulean waters of the pool and Arabian Sea. Exhilarating flavours with an extensive menu of East meet West featuring octopus salad, ceviche, oysters, Bao buns, sushi and sashimi, grills and desserts. Relax poolside in utter contentment and catch the extraordinary sunsets while you listen to an eclectic mix of music and entertainment by their resident DJ. The Buddha-Bar Beach is a must-see location during your stay at the St. Regis.


Meaning “together” in Greek, the attention to detail and stunning presentation of the food mean this restaurant is aptly named for you and your friends and family to enjoy together. Contemporary meets classic Greek cuisine with a plethora of unique flavours, perfectly paired with premium beverages. The first Mazi was opened in London’s Notting Hill, the success of which inspired the international location. Candlelit and cosy, Mazi boasts delicacies including sea bass tartare, sashimi, shredded lamb gyro tacos, whole lobster, and authentic desserts including strained yoghurt mousse with raspberry and strawberry chips and Loukoumades, lavender honey, crushed walnuts, chocolate sorbet. There’s even a gluten free menu.


Oléa is the most authentic Mediterranean restaurant in the hotel, featuring all-day dining, panoramic sea views, and stunning outdoor dining terrace. The indoor architecture is absolutely stunning with a rippled cream design on the ceiling, while the backdrop of the bar is a wavy montage of blues and greens. The impression is given that you’re looking at the sandy bottom of the ocean sand surrounded by marine life. Design masterpieces aside, the menu has some pretty cool offerings too, and it’s open from breakfast, through to lunch, and dinner, with a relaxed and casual dining affair.


Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

With the prominence of being the region’s first golf course on the sea, it has truly unique sea views, and was designed by Gary Player who has over 400 other completed projects in his name. The par 72 course has an array of salt water lakes and dunes, and is perfect for beginners or more competitive players. It’s a great way to keep fit also, as the course reaches a maximum distance of 7,784 yards for professional matches.

Kai Beach

Nominating itself as the ultimate barefoot luxury, having seen this stunning beach club we would have to entirely agree. The meaning of Kai in Japanese is “shell”, “ocean,” “restoration”, and “recovery” – you know you are in for a treat if these are the themes! The waters on Saadiyat are oh-so-blue and the sand is pure white, and Kai has everything from boho style tepees to Mexican inspired menus with tacos, burgers and Mojitos galore. Entry starts at AED 85 and there’s special weekly events including Hospitality Day, Teacher’s Day, and Miss Kai Day.

Soul Beach

Another contender for the hottest beach on the island is Soul Beach, open daily from 7am till sunset with idyllic views and the ubiquitous white sand that seems most prevalent in this part of the UAE. Entry is set at AED 50 on weekdays (AED 25 for children 6 to 15 years old) AED 75 on weekends & public holidays (AED 40 for children 6 to 15 years old). There’s no on site food facilities at this location mind, but you can bring your own food and drink (no glass bottles) which gives the feel of a more rustic beachy holiday as opposed to the over serviced standards fare from other bars and clubs. This is a great location to bring the kids and have a picnic.

Saadiyat Public Beach

Similar to Soul Beach, this one is a stretch of seemingly unending pristine glorious white sand meeting the lapping azure waves on the shoreline. Accessible from 8am till sunset, adult entry fee is AED 25 while kids go free. There are more facilities on this beach, including showers, toilets, changing rooms, umbrellas and parking, but also a multitude of water-sports which you can rent or hire for the day. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are AED 75 and kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing have various rental fees.

Saadiyat Beach Club

Undoubtedly the best beach club on the island, this venue rolls out style and luxury with the greatest of ease. Tropical, exotic, and luxurious, expect great service, incredible dining options, and legendary facilities. Warm your toes in the sandy shores of the beach, relax in their many wooden pagodas and day beds, or dive into the crystal cool waters of the swimming pool. There’s also a plunge pool and jacuzzi. The high end Mediterranean menu includes beautifully prepared feasts of octopus, pasta and grills, while their beverages include premium bottles and delish cocktails. They’re also well known for their themed nights including live acts like dancers, musicians and creative performances. It’s a true hotspot for day to night entertainment.


NYUAD Art Gallery

If you’re craving culture, pop down to the NYUAD Gallery which hosts exhibitions and art from including The Only Constant, which is a focus on contemporary landscapes, but also Khaleej Modern and Modernisms, which claim influence from various artists and a myriad of cultures. The gallery can be found on the campus of the NYU and is free admission.

The Louvre

Undoubtedly one of the finest additions to the Abu Dhabi cultural scene, the Louvre is a feast of incredible cultural connections and stunning art. With live exhibitions, installations and live music, there’s much to see and do, with a nod to both international art and local talent. There’s even a section for children to stay intrigued and enriched. We particularly recommend the immersive flow sessions, which include yoga and various movement classes from AED 105. There’s also two excellent cafes on site to relax after seeing the sights, plus an elegant bar, and fine dining restaurant called Fouquets, which was formed in the Champs-Elysees in 1899 and brings the epitome of French chic dining to the island.

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