Prior to Christmas we were invited by Rotana hotels to try out two very different properties over the course of one weekend. Both properties are located in the ADNEC area of Abu Dhabi, a stones throw from the Exhibition Centre, in a cluster of hotels aimed primarily at the business market. Our weekend begins at the Centro Capital Centre, an affordable hotel comprising of 414 rooms and studios that is designed in a modern style.
The small lobby is the life force of the property and the staff provide a good first impression. Greeted in the lobby, our check-in process is smooth and efficient. As expected from the Rotana brand, staff are friendly and engaging. Making the effort to explain the property and its amenities, while making us feel comfortable via polite chit chat. The lobby is compact and (as we are soon to discover) the petite nature is a theme that runs throughout the hotel, from the rooms to the swimming pool – small is the word. Thankfully small also means comfortable at the Centro and our sea view room on the fifth floor utilizes the minimal space extremely well.
Despite it’s compact nature, our Centro Plus Studio never feels oppressive or cramped. Off to the right lies a small kitchenette complete with sink and breakfast bar. A desk acts as a room divider and separates the kitchen area from the living room and light chiffon curtains act as an additional means of separation. Moving into the living space, a comfortable corner sofa is the focus and decked out in vibrant yellow it’s actually bigger than the bed, which is small but comfortable. Our favourite design feature of this contemporary space is the flat screen television, rising out of the floor on a pole that can be tilted 360 degrees. Meaning that the television can be seen from any vantage point in the room. The bathroom is conveniently situated and despite not having a tub, the rain fall shower more than makes up for it. Comparatively, the only other Centro we’ve stayed in is the one on Yas Island, whose rooms are even more minute.
Bearing in mind that the hotel is predominantly catering to a business clientele, who are likely to use the room for little more than sleep after a long day at work. We found the room to be more than sufficient and extremely comfortable, though at just 32SQM it was a slight squeeze for our family of two adults and two small children, once the additional cot bed was brought in.
With the market place being so competiitve in Abu Dhabi, we would’ve liked a coffee machine (as opposed to the powdered stuff), slippers, bathrobes and the option of a pillow menu. Unfortunately Rotana aren’t currently offering these options in this particular hotel, which is dissapinting but understandable due to its budget nature. For now, guests receive the standard staples of a business hotels – mini fridge, high speed internet, hair dryer, iron and a safety deposit box.
Despite a semi-modern look the hotel struggles to develop ambiance and personality. It feels very clinical and with the high turnover of guests, the Centro feels more like a well oiled machine than a leisure destination. The additional festive theming added some much needed life, with a focal Christmas tree in the lobby decked out in chunky decorations of red and gold. Glittering presents and colorful baubles complete the picture and having struggled to find that ‘festive feeling’ this holiday season. We really appreciated the Christmas music piped throughout the hotel, that felt genuinely festive without feeling forced or artificial.
The 20th floor is home to the health club and (minor cosmetic issues aside) the rooftop pool provides an excellent vantage point over the city. From up on the rooftop it’s immediately evident that Abu Dhabi is an island, with views of endless bodies of water, no matter which direction you look. On a clear day Etihad Towers is clearly visible on the horizon and it’s also possible to gain a glimpse of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The pool itself is a serene haven surrounded by lounge style seating and an abundance of loungers and being on the roof, acts as the perfect sun trap for much of the day. The pool (like the red of the hotel) is small but adequate and even in these cooler winter months the water is heated and the warmth is maintained.
For the business traveller there are also six meeting rooms on the specially designed business floor, self-service laundry facilities and a fitness centre.
All of the amenities (with the exception of the pool and gym) are found at equal trajectories off the main reception area and the Centro Capital Centre offers three distinct dining options:
- C.Taste restaurant serves up international fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a buffet.
- C. Deli is a 24 hour shop that aside from selling the usual travel essentials (sun cream and the like) offers a variety of salads, sandwiches and coffees that can be consumed upon the bar style seating or outside on the small shaded terrace.
- C. Mondo is the hotels licensed bar and claims to have the longest happy hour in the city.
Being food bloggers we were excited to sample the Friday Brunch at C. Taste but had some reservations. Hearing nothing regarding a brunch, would normally indicate cause for concern, plus the fact that C. Taste is the standard all day dining restaurant of the Rotana brand with three of them in Abu Dhabi (the others being at the Yas Island and Al Wahda properties). Much like our meal at the C. Taste at the Yas Island Rotana, we found the international buffet to be a little underwhelming, not to say that it’s bad but labelling the offering as a ‘brunch’ is more than a little misleading. With a very limited selection it’s more in keeping with the standard international buffets rolled our in hotels across the world every single night. There’s nothing to distinguish this as brunch experience, though it should be noted that it’s one of the most reasonably priced in the city as just 205 AED (inclusive of house beverages) but is unlikely to draw in anyone other than hotel guests.
The clatter of the buffet line, the mass produced and over-heated food and the small selection offers nothing new. Desserts are limited and the hot food is little more than pasta, biryani, soup and fish, though the salads and bakery selection fare much better. We’re not saying the brunch has to be lavish, exclusive or big but they should offer quality and something unique to draw the customers in. Abu Dhabi diners are especially savvy and are constantly on the lookout for exceptional brunches (exceptional doesn’t have to mean expensive) but there needs to be personality and a draw.
This is where C. Taste and many of the mid-range hotel brunches struggle. A buffet of good (but not great) food does not a brunch make and despite the restates itself being light and airy with modern flourishes. C. taste struggles to develop character and engage with customers.
Rotana continues to impress us time and again with its consistency. Staying in a Rotana you always know exactly what you’re getting and that’s good service and value for money. The Centro represents a small but distinguished business hotel conveniently located close to ADNEC and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and less than twenty minutes from the Abu Dhabi international airport and the leaser attractions of Yas Island. Making it an ideal location for first time visitors to the capital who’re looking for somewhere not to expensive.
Location: Centro Capital Centre, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Embassies District, Abu Dhabi
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Phone: 02 409 6666
We were invited to stay at the Centro Capital Centre but all views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, with the exception of four image used courtesy of Rotana Hotels.