Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
There surely isn't a better view from a hotel lobby in the capital of the United Arab Emirates than the one that greets guests at The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. This five-star hotel, in the Al Maqta'a area of Abu Dhabi island, is situated directly across from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It looks phenomenal, especially when there's a Ferrari parked out the front, as was the case when I checked in. As the name suggests, the hotel also backs onto a canal, and hotel guests have exclusive use of a private beach.
If chandeliers aren't your thing, this probably isn't the hotel for you. There are three huge ones in the sprawling foyer – in fact they're pretty much in every foyer of this luxury hotel, which the owners say has been inspired by Venetian architecture. On the Saturday night I was there, guests checking in were entertained by an opera singer and a pianist playing a grand piano.
The hotel has a total of 447 luxury hotel rooms, suites and private villas, all of which look over a gigantic 1600-square-metre pool that leads up to the private beach. The pool lights up at night and looks spectacular. There's a beach-front spa, and a well-equipped 24-hour gym.
While the lobby exudes old-school opulence, the rooms feel modern in comparison.
The bathroom is decorated with beautiful mosaic tiles, and there's a deep marble bath and a nice smelling range of bathroom products from Asprey London.
The room comes with all the mod-cons you'd expect from a luxury hotel, including an iPod dock and Nespresso machine, perfect for kicking back on your balcony in the morning, taking in the view over the canal and pool.
Jet lag was no problem after sinking into that soft, king-sized bed. There's a turn-down service each night, and a pillow menu to ensure you rest easy.
The room is large enough to comfortably accommodate two adults.
Air-conditioning is set to arctic, as is the case in most of Abu Dhabi's buildings, but it's adjustable.
There are nine eateries on site, offering everything from fine dining, to a steakhouse, poolside nibblies and a huge breakfast buffet at the Mediterranean-inspired Giornotte. Eat breakfast out on the patio overlooking the gardens, preferably slurping coconut juice served in a coconut.
During lunch at Li Jiang, the modern south-east Asian restaurant, we watched the chefs in the open kitchen prepare our meal of steamed vegetable and scallop dumplings, Kung Pao chicken and lobster tail with lemongrass sauce. Our plates were scraped clean by the end. There's also a Lebanese restaurant, Mijana, and an Italian-style cafe, Dolce, kitted out in a lovely pastel colour scheme. In the heat of Abu Dhabi, it's hard to resist one of their homemade ice-creams.
Rooms on Club Level enjoy The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, offering food throughout the day.
A visit to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of Abu Dhabi's major tourist destinations, is a quick excursion from this hotel. Just cross the road and you're there.
The hotel is about 20 kilometres, or a 20-minute drive, to the Corniche, the seaside walkway that is packed with locals in the early evening. It's a similar distance to the international airport. You will need a car to get around.
It's hard to find fault with this hotel, which delivers the facilities it boasts on its website.
An evening dip in the deliciously warm pool, followed by cocktails at the poolside bar or an al fresco dinner, is a winning way to spend an evening.
In fact, there's no need to leave the hotel if that's the kind of holiday you're after.
For a holiday experience with mixing old-world charm with modern facilities, this hotel is hard to beat.
Khor Al Maqta'a, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Cost: From 750 Emirati Dirham ($245 AUD) a night for a deluxe room. See ritzcarlton.com
Megan Levy was a guest of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority