If I’ve only learnt one thing in my whole life, it’s this: The world is not a wish-granting factory.
There’s this idea that’s been pushed through our eyeballs by Disney that good things happen while we’re sitting around combing our hair. It’s not like that at all. You will work hard for anything good in this life. I’m not trying to take your dreams away. This is just a reminder of how much we work for our dreams, how tough it can be, how exhausting, how unromantic… and how even when it’s all worth it and things are exactly what you want, this life is still totally hard.
It’s very easy to forget that and believe in the Disney version when you stay at the Shangri-La. The world begins to feel as if it’s designed in tandem with your whims, where things you didn’t even know you wanted appear before you at the precise moment they’re most useful to you and your face continuously lights up while the staff smile knowingly, having seen that expression on a thousand other guests’ faces before you.
The Shangri-La is (by far) the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed at, and possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen.
The weekend we spent there (about 2 weeks’ ago) started off well (checking in at a 5 star resort is not a bad start) and kept getting better and better. When we arrived, the room we reserved wasn’t ready so we were immediately upgraded to a suite. We had to politely nod through the Receptionist’s tour and wait for her to leave before we could scream and whoop and fist-pump at our luck.
The suite was about the same size as my apartment, with a huuuuuuge bed (you could roll over 50 times and not fall off), massive balcony with two couches and a sea view, an office, walk-in wardrobe/ dressing room, shower room (rainforest and mist settings), a big tub that fit two comfortably and a separate toilet. We kept walking around marvelling as we found new things.
In our room: fresh cut roses and treats from L’occitane
Details I particularly loved: the bathroom was stocked with L’occitane goodies (my favourite), the sound system allowed you to play music in each of the separate rooms (singing in the shower has never been so much fun) and all the doors were on rollers so it was possible to push them all back and lie in the bath with the light from the balcony streaming in. Bliss.
The view from our balcony
Altogether, there are three pools and a private beach. The best is the infinity pool with stunning views of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Infinity pool at Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi
I found it strange that the hotel’s website doesn’t make more of a feature of it because it is so breathtaking. The hotel also has it’s own souk, which can be reached by golf buggy or abra (a traditional Arabic boat) along the hotel’s winding waterway.
Abras at Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi
Private beach at Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi
I was so impressed that I’m actually booking in again for a couple of nights right before I leave at the end of the month. That might sound pretty extravagant but the hotel’s rates will surprise you. It’s gets very (some might say too) hot in the UAE at this time of year, and hotels adjust their rates accordingly. Trust me, the heat is a lot more bearable when you are greeted at the pool with a complimentary mini cooler filled with bottled water and icy-cold-verbena-scented face cloths. I swear, these people have thought of everything.
A man who’s sole job seems to be to clean the guests’ sunglasses
Photos by Lucy Jones (except the ones she’s in, of course).