…is not exactly an accurate description of my appearance as I arrived at Abu Dhabi airport, but bear with me while I attempt to tenuously link my stay at a five-star hotel to a new wave band from 30 years ago.
We sped down the city’s bizarrely empty highways until we reached Yas Island and the taxi driver pointed to a glowing fluorescent blob in the distance. “That is your hotel,” he said. All bleary-eyed off an eight-hour flight I squinted at the blob.
“Blimey… hotel is spaceship?” I thought to myself as it swam into view. (I was tired — even head grammar started to go wrong.)
Spaceship it wasn’t, but clad in a shell of colour-changing LEDs creating a light show that can be seen far and wide, the Yas Viceroy is basically the hotel that 80s synthpop dreams are made of. That’s my take at least. It probably inspires different emotions and opinions in the F1 fans who stay at the Viceroy because it is built over the top of the Yas Marina Circuit.
Abu Dhabi isn’t much known for its boutique lodgings, but if you’re looking for a lavish hotel that dazzles your eyeballs out of their sockets with its pyrotechnics and location and dimensions then the Yas Viceroy will knock your socks off.
I ended up at the Viceroy because I happened to be in town on business, and while Abu Dhabi isn’t the kind of place I’d opt to go on hols, Yas Island proved the perfect place to rest up after a long flight once business was concluded.
Boasting two rooftop pools (I preferred the smaller one), a rooftop bar, a nightclub, a spa and six restaurants, I expected to Yas Viceroy to be vast and overwhelming. Actually it felt very tranquil, and easy to navigate once you get the hang of the second floor bridge that crosses the F1 track.
Curled up by the pool in a giant padded wicker chair and all wrapped in my dressing gown with an icy beer in my hand I sunk into gloriously idle stupor. Dusk was approaching and as the light started to fade, I wriggled my feet into my slippers and padded back to my room to have a bath and a lie down in my huge bed before supper.
I tried the Arabic and Indian restaurants during my stay, as well as Origins, where I sat outside each morning while eating smoked salmon and scrambled egg bagels and overlooking the marina. All of the food was excellent, but I particularly loved Atayeb, the Middle Eastern restaurant. There were endless plates of some of the best meze I’ve ever tasted, although the real highlight was the kibbeh. Swimming in a yoghurt sauce, it was hard to tell what the kibbeh were at first, but I was glad I dived in because they were totally delicious — like a meatballs crossed croquettes. The chef explained that kibbeh are proper Syrian comfort food and I’m determined to hunt down a recipe and make them myself, because they’d be perfect belly-warming food for the cold winter evenings that are fast approaching.
After dinner, it’s time to head up to the open-air bar on the roof and dive into the cocktails (how is still so hot at night?!) while peeking out at the night sky through the ever-changing hues of the Viceroy’s panelled shell.
In the daytime the super-friendly hotel staff can arrange for you to take advantage of the attractions on Yas Island, and so I popped down to the beach club for a lazy day in the sun and a paddle around the mangroves (not as exotic as it sounds, but fun nonetheless). You usually have to pay to get into the club, but it’s a freebie for hotel guests. There’s a shuttle that can take you to and from the beach, but you can easily walk it in 15 minutes — presuming you can bear the heat!
Like I say, Abu Dhabi isn’t quite the culture and adventure centre I like my normal trip destinations to be, but I’m totally sold on the Yas Viceroy as a location for lazy, languorous luxury. Check out the rest of my photos from my stay below.