What makes growing older more bearable? Why, the celebration of course!
This year for my birthday, Hubster and I decided to book a mini staycation in a local hotel. We chose the Liwa Hotel in Abu Dhabi for our quick getaway.
We were slightly uneasy about our choice initially because the hotel had mixed reviews on Tripadvisor (a guiding beacon we base almost all our travel decisions on). All our fears however, were quickly laid to rest. After a smooth two hour drive from the city through the ochre desert we were pleased to see the landmark Liwa Palace perched atop velvety green slopes that indicated we were near our destination. The hotel architecture, reminiscent of traditional forts, was once painted bright white. Time and nature have taken their toll though and the façade could now do with a touch up.
Once inside though the outlook improved considerably. The lobby was spacious, well-lit and gracefully furnished. We were welcomed with a refreshing lemon-mint drink and check in was completed in record time.
We were ushered to our room where we were pleasantly surprised to find that some simple decorations had been put up for the birthday baby. A few minutes later a knock at the door signaled the arrival of my birthday cake. We were even graciously offered a complimentary upgrade to a Double Room.
The Liwa Hotel has been in operation since 2009. Sadly her age is visible in some of the furnishings and room fittings. But while it may be old, every corner of the room is neat beyond fault. The bed was super comfortable and they even have a pillow menu where you can order a pillow type of your choosing!
After taking some time to freshen up, we spent the rest of the evening exploring the grounds and taking pictures galore. There is a playground for the kids, a couple of volleyball and tennis courts, a fitness center, a barbecue area, some tents, and of course a pool surrounded by shaded cabanas and deck chairs. Aside from a few guests at the pool, we had the rest of the place pretty much to ourselves which we enjoyed.
The highlight of our stay was finding our way out on to the desert sands surrounding the property and watching the sunset among the dunes. The dramatic sunset makes an excellent photo op for budding photographers. We were lucky to catch both the golden hour and the following blue hour and snapped away until the light failed us.
We eventually made our way back to the room and decided to have dinner sent up to our room. Hubster ordered the Moroccan tagine (delicious but slightly more tomato-ey than we remember from our Morocco days. It reminded us of a thick Indian curry!). I opted for the Singapore noodles. Again while it was flavorful and packed with veggies and chicken, to me it was closer to a Pad Thai than Singapore noodles. Nevertheless it was a tasty, reasonably priced meal in decent portion sizes.
Breakfast the next morning, while nothing spectacular, was well stocked and staff were on hand to promptly clear plates and replenish items. There was a live egg station, plenty of fresh fruit, mushrooms with bell peppers and grilled tomatoes, hash browns, sausages and beef bacon, chana masala, pancakes, baked beans, foul medammes, cereal, breads, assorted pastries and croissants.
To sum up : The attention to detail and the prompt, thoughtful service really made our stay here memorable. The staff were incredibly accommodating and always ready with a smile and a ‘Good Day!’. The price was a reasonable AED 322/- per night which may drop even further as summer locks in.
As the mercury climbs and outdoor activities become a distant memory, we are looking forward to plunging hotel rates and potential mini staycations like these. Anything to ease the drudgery of a summer spent cooped up at home for 3 months!
Do you have any recommendations for summertime activities that do not involve melting into a puddle the second you step out the door? Have you ever taken a staycation in or around your hometown?