Thanks to Etihad Airways scheduling, we had a 14-hour layover in Abu Dhabi, which was ample time to have a few hours sleep and see some of the highlights! We managed to get early check in at the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Airport – located inside the airport after immigration. It was about $100 for the room, including the early-check in and had a rooftop pool, so well worth the $$$!
After a few hours nap, we were starving and wanted to experience some Middle Eastern food, so we hit up Louqmat Bladnah (opposite Abu Dhabi Mall). We enjoyed our first time trying fatoush (a kind of salad), some hummus and meat, chicken shwarma (bizarrely served with fries), and a sort of flatbread with cheese and spinach – like a flatbread pizza, and not in the below photo as we demolished it before we had the chance to photograph it!
Moving on, we headed to the Emirates Palace. Not a Palace at all, but a wondrously opulent hotel. As lovely/convenient as the Premier Inn was, we wished we could have stayed there! The interior is so ornate, and so much attention to detail, including 30 ft tapestries hanging on the walls. Absolutely beautiful! Unfortunately, non-staying guests are only allowed to wander the lobby and inside levels so you can’t visit the grounds. But in 42c / 107 f heat, staying inside was fine for us!
Our final stop on our whirlwind Abu Dhabi tour was to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – another absolutely incredibly beautiful sight. Completed in 2007, it still looks brand new, and is gleaming white. You have to go through a weird underground passage (past a Cinnabon!) to get in, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing as there is a dressing room for both sexes if you’re wearing inappropriate clothes – and it’s free!
The mosque really is a sight to behold and well worth a visit – in fact we’d say if you only have time for one thing in AbDabs (as Rid called it!), go to the mosque! Interestingly, you can often include an overnight stopover in Abu Dhabi for free if you fly Etihad so it is also a great way of breaking up your flight if you’re flying far.
So with our jaunt done, we headed back to the hotel, spent a while in the rooftop pool and got ready for our 10pm flight to Tokyo! Thanks for the brief stop, Abu Dhabi!