Grand Millennium Al Wahda: Staycation in the hub of Abu Dhabi City

Last weekend was spent in the heart of the capital city, Abu Dhabi. We booked a Junior Suite at 5-star hotel Millenium Al Wahda. The hotel is located in the midst of the city, offering a great vantage point of urban life. A large, modern structure with Arabesque detailing, the hotel is conjoined with Al Wahda Mall and the residential side of Millenium Al Wahda.

Being an expert at getting lost with Google Maps, I drove into the residential side of the hotel yet the valet was kind enough to accept my car there. We dropped our luggage at the concierge, and headed to the hotel lobby to check in.

The place was crowded with a mix of nationalities, and I was surprised to see only two counters open at the reception despite the rush. We were in queue for a good 15 minutes, and when I was finally facing the receptionist, an obtrusive lady pushed in to ask for her room key. What was more atrocious was that the receptionist entertained her! I was fuming at this stage and when I voiced my concern (and this was chorused by a gentleman behind me), the young man at the reception remarked ‘we really can’t stop them’.

After a 2-hour ride and another 3 hour’s stop at Louvre Dubai, we were pretty exhausted and famished so this wee episode at the reception didn’t go down well with me.

The Room

Thankfully all my built-up temper dissipated once we got to our room. We were booked into the ‘Club Suite’, and our door had the auspicious number of 2222. Located on the 22nd floor, we enjoyed spectacular views of the city.

The room was spaciously large with a comfy living-room seating at one end, a study desk at the other and a very inviting queen bed at the center. My daughter was delighted to find a secluded single bed set up for her by the window, giving her a great vantage point of the views.

The room includes the usual amenities, and a well-stocked mini bar. My favorite thing about this room turned out to be the bathtub. It looks like an ordinary tub, but its ergonomically designed curves kept me in the warmth of my bubble bath far longer than I had anticipated.

The coffee snob in me was delighted to find a coffee machine in the room along with a choice of Lavazza pods. The clean, spacious room along with a great view and a mug of piping hot coffee made me feel very welcome and right at home.

Porto Bello: All Day Dining Restaurant

We had all our meals at Porto Bello, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. The restaurant claims to be Italian, yet the buffet features dishes from around the world catering to the demographics of hotel visitors. There’s Arabic, Indian and quite a few Russian dishes thrown in.

Loved the cheese counter and enjoyed a very hearty Russian vegetable and meat soup for lunch.

I spotted a live pasta counter but was disappointed to be advised they were only serving one kind of pasta and it wasn’t a pasta-customizing space. However, the creamy cheese-laden mushroom pasta I had was very satiating, and probably the best dish I’ve had from all three meals at the restaurant.

I was back for dinner, and many of the dishes from lunch were back in rotation at the buffet. The dessert counter looked entirely unchanged. However, I was having dinner with a friend who was a birthday celebrant, and the staff were kind enough to give us a small birthday cake, complete with a lit candle.

At the breakfast buffet, more than 80% of the hot foods were eggs. There was scrambled eggs, mini Eggs Benedict, Frittata, Mexican Eggs and the standard boiled eggs. And as we got seated at our table, the waiter came to tell us there was a live counter cooking eggs the way you want them! I love eggs, so can’t complain but they really need to have more options for those who don’t.

I have heard rave reviews about Porters Bar at Millennium Al Wahda, but sadly I could not try it out with an 8-year-old in tow.

At the Pool

A night’s stay at Grand Millennium Al Wahda gives you access to the gym and pool facilities. We spent an idle afternoon by the pool. The pool has an inbuilt bar and is spaciously wide. It is manned by two lifeguards on either side.

Al Wahda Mall Access

The hotel is directly connected to Al Wahda Mall. You can actually walk right into the mall from the 3rd floor of the hotel. We went for a midnight walk when all the stores were closed and ended up watching Maleficent. My little one went in her pyjamas, which was a real treat for her!

Checkout took just as long as checking in. Only two receptionists were on duty despite the rush. However, the valet staff were more efficient, and I got my car, loaded with my luggage in record time.

Overall, Grand Millennium Al Wahda is a great choice for those who want to be right at the hub of Abu Dhabi city. For a five-star property, their room rates are very affordable, and the hotel is connected to Al Wahda Mall, one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations. I loved my Club Suite room here, and the views of the city from across the hotel are spectacular. The service at the reception needs to be greatly improved, but the room service and the valet were on par.