The Grand Millennium Al Wahda is a property that has evaded us for sometime. A monstrous building that looms over a busy intersection of Downtown Abu Dhabi, spanning the area between the bus station and the popular Al Wahda Mall. From the outside the Grand Millennium seems overwhelming large and despite driving past multiple times a day (the joys of the school run) we’d yet to venture inside.
Things changed last weekend when we were invited to spend a family day at the pool and sample the recently renovated Al Wahda all-day-dining restaurant. With little on the agenda for the first weekend in many months, the idea of spending an afternoon chilling by the pool certainly seemed like an appealing one.
After a leisurely morning we arrived at the hotel and despite feeling slightly dwarfed by the external facade, the interiors revealed a space that is bright and cozy. The only other Grand Millennium we’ve visited in the UAE is the property in Fujairah (which you can read about here) and Al Wahda is consistent in terms of layout and theming.
Situated on the second floor, we stopped briefly at the expansive health club. Featuring a state of the art gym with plenty of treadmills and weights. Regular readers will know the gym is not for us, so we politely declined a chance to sample the facilities, instead making a hasty exit towards the rooftop pool.
The Grand Millennium’s swimming pool is located on the roof a staggering 31 levels above ground and the views are simply stunning. Unrestricted panoramas of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape stretch out towards the corniche and the gleaming Etihad Towers. Look the other way and you’ll see Hodariyat Bridge (the infamous bridge to nowhere), Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid (the tallest building in the capital at 381m) and the architectural marvel of Reem Island’s Gate Towers.
From such an elevation we felt almost drone-like. Centrally located over a city of rooftops, lines and geometry with busy intersections, pillars of glass and long taxi queues making for some interesting patterns that are likely to keep visitors captivated.
The rooftop pool is almost identical in design to the Fujairah property. Featuring a relatively small body of water in a rectangular design. Al Wahda has the bonus of an additional children’s pool, nicely heated for the UAE’s January weather.
The design of the pool deck offers respite from the rooftop winds by enclosing the space within the confines of walls and large glass windows, giving the impression of an infinity pool, without actually being one. The stunning views are visible as you swim, meaning you can enjoy the remarkable vantage point while you exercise or relax.
Handy chalkboards provide information on water temperature and sunset timings. Though we’re not entirely sure of the accuracy of this information, as the larger of the two pools was particularly chilly to the point of being (almost) unbearable. This pool also features a small swim up bar and some great drink promotions, especially for fans of Jägermeister.
For those not looking to swim. A collection of sun loungers and rattan couches are spaced evenly around the pool’s perimeter, ideal for reading a book or soaking up the sun. Adjacent to the pool you’ll find ‘Sky Lounge 31’ selling bar snacks, beverages and shisha at very competitive prices. We can imagine this is a great place for sundowners, especially with that view.
Descending thirty levels we were served lunch at ‘Al Wahda’ the hotels all-day-dining destination. Upon entering, it’s evident the restaurant has undergone recent renovation due to a combination of bright paintwork and immaculate upholstery. With a range of seating options and plenty of potted plants the restaurant is a charming space but as is a common trend with all-day-dining outlets, the space lacks character and atmosphere.
As expected, the buffet is a case of quantity over quality but that’s not to say you can’t find good dishes amongst the plethora of options aimed at tour groups and hotel guests booked on full board packages.
From the numerous displays (soups, breads, curries, dried fruits), we appreciated the salads and mezzes the most. The use of fresh ingredients and an abundance of healthy options is certainly appreciated as we attempt to adopt a somewhat healthier lifestyle in 2017. We admired the inclusion of the many Arabic staples (hummus, fattoush), providing a distinctive Middle Eastern twist to proceedings. Portion control is pleasing, with small bowls of each item being replenished as required. As opposed to laying on a huge spread that ultimately leads to unnecessary wastage.
The hot dishes were a bit of a let down and we didn’t gel with either the vine leaves or beef stroganoff. Admittedly the vegetable curry and biryani selections were very good. Even the desserts were somewhat restrained, sticking to fresh fruits, baklava and Arabic favourite Umm Ali.
The lunch buffet at Grand Millennium Al Wahda is in keeping with hotel buffets all over the capital, in terms of selection and quality and has the edge over some of their competitors (see our review of Capital Centre Arjaan). Though we do wish these hotel buffets would shake things up a bit and offer some more interesting dishes than the standard international fare.
The Grand Millennium Al Wahda is a good choice for whiling away a lazy weekend afternoon and the pricing is a lot lower than most hotels in Abu Dhabi, where day passes to the health club usually average at around AED 300. For day use of the facilities at Grand Millennium, guests can expect to pay just half at AED 150. Including access to the pool (open from 8am – 8pm) and health club, though spa treatments come at an additional cost. If you’re looking to indulge in the all you can eat buffet. Prices for lunch start at AED 145 and runs from 12:30pm – 3:30pm.
For a centrally located five star property this is great value for money, so why not make a day of it?
Location: Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street, Abu Dhabi
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Phone: 02 443 9999