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Related: Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the main hub for Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline of the UAE (after Emirates). This means that if you ever travel on Etihad (which we recommend you do; you can read our reviews of the Etihad First Class Suites and The Iconic Residence), you will probably travel through Abu Dhabi.

This city is, however, much more than a layover, it is a destination in itself. You can experience gulf culture by strolling around the dhow harbour, haggling in markets and absorbing the atmosphere at sheesha cafes. You can also experience many glorious and memorable moments in the beach at one of the ultra luxury beach hotels in the region, many just a short drive from the airport.

1. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas

Our top pick for the best beach hotel in Abu Dhabi is the dreamy Park Hyatt (pictured above) which is the perfect place to dip your toes in the sand while enjoying a drink as the sun sets.

This 5-star luxury beach resort in Abu Dhabi is brand new and nestled along the pristine beach of Saadiyat Island (the “Island Of Happiness”), just 25 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport. It is as stylish as you would expect of any Park Hyatt and is decorated in creams with metallic tones, plush rugs and high end furnishings (we are big Park Hyatt fans and have also personally reviewed the Park Hyatt in Vienna and Park Hyatt Siem Reap)

This immaculate resort lies on a vast stretch of environmentally protected white sand beach, where you can spend your day basking under the Arabian sun or you can take a dip in the swimming pool. For something unusual, join Arabella Willing – their resident marine biologist – for a boat journey around several coastal habitats, and learn about the marine ecosystems of the Emirates.

306 spacious guest rooms offer private balconies and their stylish suites and private villas feature open-air plunge pools with magnificent ocean, garden or golf course views. Also on offer is exquisite dining and a luxurious spa along with pools, tennis courts, a fitness centre and access to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club; an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Gary Player.

2. St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

Also located on Saadiyat Island, the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort has 5 pools, including a 30 yard indoor lap pool an extensive spa, tennis, shopping area and kids club. There are 7 restaurants and bars offering a variety of cuisine including a steakhouse and South East Asian and Mediterranean dishes. All rooms have a private balcony and are a generous size, ideal to relax in after a day on the beach.

This grand, palatial hotel is decorated in creams with vast expanses of marble. The building stares out across the pools and past the palm trees to the extensive white sand beach beyond.

4. Zaya Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi

The Zaya Nurai Island Hotel is built on a natural car-free island close on the coast of Abu Dhabi, with 32 one bedroom beach villas sitting neatly around a crescent-shaped beach. The most stunning beach is situated on the northern side of the island by the swimming pool, restaurants, terrace, and jetty. Pad around the island on foot across the soft sand pathways or take one of the numerous golf buggies about- what fun!

5. Anantara, Sir Bani Yas Desert Island

The wonderful island of Sir Bani Yas Desert Island is less than three hours by car from Abu Dhabi city to the private jetty at Jebel Dhana. A complimentary boat ride will whisk you to the Sir Bani Yas island, surrounded by the sparkling clear blue water of the Arabian Gulf and where dolphins frolic and turtles still breed on the beaches.

The much revered Sheikh Zayed created a wildlife reserve on the island to preserve the endangered species of the Arabian peninsula. A safari tour here is likely to be rewarded with a glimpse of cheetahs sleeping off last night’s kill in the shade of the Ghaf tree, an encounter with a curious giraffe, spotted deer from India (the favourite meal of the cheetahs) and of course one of the largest herds of Arabian oryx in the world. The mountain gazelle get everywhere, including on the beach and by the pool and the air is constantly filled with the cooing of collared doves.

All of this exceptional beauty can now be enjoyed alongside all the luxuries provided by the Anantara Desert islands Resort and Spa. There are three parts to the resort. The most conventional hotel accommodation is adjacent to the spa and a small convention centre on one side of the island, with the more exclusive Al Yamm and Al Suhel villa resorts on opposite sides at a discreet distance. Al Yamm has just 30 luxury beachside villas. The villas are designed to blend into their surroundings and are very Arabian in style but supply everything you would expect from the perfect vacation hideaway.

Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.