Afternoon Tea Above the City

The five Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi are set apart from the rest of the iconic cityscape of downtown. They soar above the Emirates Palace, Presidential Palace, and Arabian Gulf. The Towers are also featured in the film Fast & Furious 7, when Dom Torreto drives a Lykan Hypersport supercar (valued at over $3 million USD) from the 45th floor of one tower into a neighboring one. The Towers, though, are a lot more than drive-through buildings; they also offer several food and beverage options. 

One of the options is in the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers at its Observation Deck at 300, a perfect place to meet up and to share an afternoon tea service.

From the minute I walked out of the Observation Deck at 300’s special elevator and looked out at the stunning 360° views from level 74, I knew I was in for a treat that afternoon. 

I was quickly shown to my table, waiting for me next to the floor to ceiling windows. The moment I sat down, a coconut and cherry concoction was placed in front of me to enjoy as I waited for the tea fare to be rolled to me (yes, it is literally rolled to the table in a glass display cabinet on wheels). As I waited for my treats to be placed on the three tier metal stand, in the shape of a sail to mimic the towers, I decided to take a stroll around the deck. There truly wasn’t a bad view from any table. 

Soon the food was set in its proper places…the bottom tier were savory sandwich bites, the middle tier held the sweets, and the scones were perched on the top. 

Allow me to share what each tasty treat was…I will start from the bottom. For the savory bites, the plate held: a smoke salmon atop a dill bread with a dollop of caviar and creme fraiche, a roast beef with pimiento on beetroot bread, a raisin bread with chicken salad, a mozzarella and zucchini atop a focaccia, a tuna and avocado wrap, and my favorite, a roasted pumpkin and onion tart with gorgonzola. 

The rich sweets were also on another level and stand out as being some of the best tea desserts I have ever placed between my lips. The plate offered a vanilla battenberg, fruit tart, orange crinkle cookie, strawberry madeleines, cherry roulade, a caramel cheesecake, chocolate choux buns, and my absolute two favorites of all: a lotus cream donut and a chocolate lollipop. 

Of course, I cannot forget about the necessary scones. Two types were offered, white chocolate and cranberry scones and rose scones, served with the required clotted cream and jam. 

Now, I admit, I could not eat it all at the same seating so I ended up bringing some of the sweets home with me (as they do not allow the savory sandwiches to be put in takeaway boxes). I definitely enjoyed the sweets later from the comfort of my bed, still savoring each sugary bite. 

Next time you find yourself wanting to enjoy delicious food high above the city with friends or a special someone, check out the Observation Deck at 300, located in Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers. 

Observation Deck at 300

Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers

Price for Afternoon Tea: 220AED per person (44GBP, 50Euro, $60USD)

An Oasis in the Desert

The United Arab Emirates is a country full of opulence and excess. Luxury oozes from it’s veins. Whether you find yourself in the sand dunes of the desert, or in one of the cities within the seven emirates, you will have no problem finding somewhere to stay that makes you feel like a king or queen, or in this case, a sheikh or sheikha. 

One place I’ve recently stayed that wrapped me in elegance and luxury is Qasr Al Sarab, an Anatara resort located in the Liwa Desert of Abu Dhabi. Entering into the Liwa Desert, rolling sand dunes greeted me in a mixture of hues…orange, red, tan, and of course gold. I felt as if I was traveling to a whole other world, though I was only about three hours away from downtown Abu Dhabi. As I pulled up to the center courtyard to valet my Lexus for the stay, I was in awe of the grand Islamic architecture surrounding me…scalloped arches and walls, fountains, turrets, and palm trees. 

I was ushered into the lobby’s sitting area and offered a small plate of dates (a traditional treat here) and date milk as we waited to be checked in. I’ve never been a fan of the texture of dates, but date milk is sweet and certainly welcomed, especially when served in colorful glasses with gold designs. Check in didn’t take too long and before we knew it, a cart was waiting to whisk me away to my Deluxe Garden Room. 

As I walked down the steps of a short darkened stairway, my anticipation grew. The door opened to the room and I was not disappointed. The warm wood ceiling beams complemented the ecru-toned stucco walls, as the Arabian chandelier gave the room a soft glow. My room included a terrace with comfortable patio furniture and views of the dunes, perfect for watching the sunset from. But the piece de resistance was the bathroom. On the other side of the bathroom’s double wooden doors was a massive room with a large walk-in rain shower, double sinks, and the largest tub I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for tubs where you can toss in a Lush bathbomb and soak your entire body. This tub was large enough for more than one person to get a good soak in at the same time, or for any other particular activities that your imagination can conjur.

Qasr Al Sarab offers plenty of desert activities for guests to enjoy, but I’m a water person by nature, so I immediately headed off to the large pool to enjoy time amongst the palm trees and under the oasis’s sun. The lounge chairs and umbrellas offered a comfortable place to admire the pool from, but the water was too inviting, so I jumped in. In one of the shallow areas of the pool, curved lounges were ready to provide a place for me to relax in the sun while also remaining in the cool pool–the best of both worlds! Food and beverage services were offered at the pool area, so I ordered the pineapple and ginger mojito, a refreshing blend of mint, ginger, pineapple, sugar, and Captain Morgan. 

For dinner, the food at the resort’s rooftop grill, Suhail, looked enticing. I asked to be seated on the terrace for my meal. The menu at Suhail offers a variety of dishes, from pasta to steak to seafood. I admit, I had a difficult time trying to choose the dishes I wanted to eat due to how wonderful it all sounded! But I finally decided on the lobster bisque for my appetizer, the butternut risotto for my main course, and followed it up with a creme brulee. The bisque was rich and creamy with chunks of lobster meat (my absolute favorite food), the risotto was warm and comforting, and the creme brulee was sweet and large enough for at least two people to enjoy. 

Though the setting, accommodations, food and selection of activities of Qasr Al Sarab are all individually amazing, it is the whole experience that sets it apart from other luxury desert resorts. I truly wished I could have stayed longer. From the tiny details, such as the wooden camel door sign etched with “Do Not Disturb” to the friendly staff that went out of their way to make sure I was enjoying my stay, this resort is one that definitely stands out from the long list of hotels and places I’ve stayed during my time in the UAE. So, if you ever find yourself looking for a magical getaway in the desert, put Qasr Al Sarab at the top of your list.