Having stayed at Fairmont Jaipur before, Saloni and me were pretty much expecting the exacting standards at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. Needless to say, the hotel not only met our expectations but went beyond to surprise us. While Fairmont Jaipur can be personified as a graceful woman full of wisdom, stories of yore and antiquated luxury, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is an exact opposite, a chatty pretty girl with tricks up her sleeves to keep you busy and entertained, creating stories for you while you’re with her. Both properties have a different aura and style. While Fairmont Jaipur is a huge palace with heritage and artefacts, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is a contemporary glass building with ample of facilities and amenities.
I cannot forget the way Faimont makes you feel when you enter the hotel. It’s a royal welcome as two men stand at the top of the hotel and shower you with marigold flowers, then there are royal salutes from their instruments, and then a troupe comes to you dancing and playing music. While Fairmont Bab Al Bahr might not be as festive in welcoming you, but the reception has a cheerful vibe. Being a President’s Club member, I went to the dedicated desk to get the room keys and complete all formalities, which was a breeze. There are bearers carrying savouries, goodies and beverages who wouldn’t leave without you picking something! And they’d keep coming back for refills. It’s something I don’t see everywhere, and I would give an additional star just for this to Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. There is an Arabic coffee station as well, if you want some dates and local coffee.
The lobby of this hotel is awe-inspiring with different kind of unique sofas and chairs kept everywhere. Jostling with a leather sofa would be a jazzy shiny silver circular 5 seater, and further to it would be chairs made of ropes in bright red and subtle yellow, while a velvet sofa with a large overhead in a corner will invite you for a long bask. The hotel room access card given also has an access to the elevators, so that visitors to the restaurants don’t get over enthusiastic and start checking out the hotel from every angle and floor.
The rooms of the hotel, well, that is the highlight and I could use any superlative here, it’s that good. It’s spacious to the level that you’d think of staying here forever. There is a writing desk, my personal favourite, so that one can write or just rummage through the magazines and newspapers. A small lamp is adequate for the lighting you’d require to read. The room has a small sofa which though could seat 4, it’s adequate and ideal for a couple to just laze around watching the tube. The bed is super-comfy, just sink in and enjoy the view. Ah, view. That’s the best part of this hotel. The view of the creek below, and the Grand Mosque in its pristine glory at the sunset. And the swimming pool and al fresco restaurants of the hotel, and the beach and the gardens. I can sit here day long just admiring the view. And they provide you with a bottle of spring water, fruits and Arabic sweets as complimentary. The fridge has few drinks should you decide to stay in the room and bask in the views.
The amenities provided are great, with toiletries from Le Labo’s eponymous Rose No. 31 range making the bathing experience, well, rosy. It’s the voluptuous side of rose with the assertive, deep smell of roses coupled with spices and wood, seducing the skin in a way it mesmerizes the senses. The wet area is segregated into 3 parts – washroom, bathroom and the common basin area with a large mirror. All are spacious enough to accommodate a couple, except the toilet which anyway shouldn’t!
The beach of the hotel is a lively place where cabanas jostle with beach umbrellas and chairs. The pool area is a lot busier with many sized pools, a pool bar and more chairs amidst palm trees, manicured shrubs and gardens.
Dining options are many, should you decide to leave the room, that is. CuiScene is all-day dining, while Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill brings some Michelin stars here as well. Frankie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar is an ideal evening casual diner where we listened to live music and had amazing Pizza Con Pollo E Patate. There are few more diners and cafes at the hotel. The Chocolate Gallery wasn’t great as it sounded, with just a few chocolates and desserts to offer and comparatively boring.
If you must eat out, and you should, there are plenty of options. We walked along the beach to The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri, which is a beautiful 10 minute walk passing by Shangri-La’s amazing property. The Souk has couple of options for fine dining. Yet, we took an Abra to cross the creek for a sumptuous meal at the Punjab Grill. There are good options for dining at this stunning complex called Venetian Village. It’s outside Ritz-Carlton. Al Maqtaa, which is this region’s name in Abu Dhabi, is a totally happening place with many clubs, markets, hotels, water-sport activities and high-end restaurants. Which is a good thing if you are residing at Fairmont Bab al Bahr, so you don’t have to stray too far from this area, just be here and chill. Special mention goes for their staff which is overtly helpful, smiling and humble, right from the front desk to the room service to the beach attendant to the valet. They even arranged for a yum cake for our anniversary, which was a nice gesture. The entertainer coupon I had bought came handy here, with the 1+1 night offer bringing down the cost by half for us.