Yas Viceroy Hotel
Aaron Noah M.
Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Yas Viceroy Hotel (aka Yas Hotel) is an extensive curvilinear steel and glass structure that straddles a Formula One race track near Abu Dhabi, UAE. The architecture of the building is immediately striking, appropriate for a five-star hotel that is the crown jewel of Yas Marina Circuit.
The hotel was built just four years ago and opened in time for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009. It was designed by Asymptote Architecture of New York, conceived as a landmark creation that would incorporate elements of speed as well as Arabic aesthetic traditions. A special LED system was also designed by Arup Lighting for the outside shell of Yas Viceroy which allows for dynamic color changes at night.
I have viewed the glowing hotel from the outside during the last two years of races at Yas Marina Circuit, but it was Metallica that finally brought me in for a night’s stay. Please click here for a full review of the 25 October, 2011 Metallica Concert.
My crew and I only needed regular double rooms, but as those were sold out we opted for the Executive Suites. These rooms are normally geared for business travelers, so there is special access to the Executive Lounge with computer stations, drinks, canapés, and a conference room.
Checking in was easy. After valet parking we were escorted directly to the Executive Lounges on level 2 rather than queuing up at the main check-in desk in the front lobby. We were then ushered to our rooms in the Marina Wing which, as the name implies, overlooks Yas Marina. Crossing the stark white corridors with space-age room numbers I had the odd feeling that I was actually inside the USS Enterprise from Star Trek the Next Generation television series rather than a hotel, although the funky carpets seemed to bring the place back down to earth.
Getting to our final destination we immediately noticed that our “rooms” were more like an apartments, containing a lounge, a changing room, a bedroom, and two bathrooms. This place was larger than my residence in Dubai! And much nicer. “Refined elegance in a modern oasis” is the tagline of Yas Viceroy and it seemed to fit the space well. The main bathroom is cavernous, with two sinks, a tub, a toilet, and a so-called “rain shower.” The bedroom and lounge are both simple and spacious, linked together inside and also by the large balcony outdoors. The entire room has plenty of gadgets to keep you occupied: two large screen televisions, a/c controls, curtain controls, mood lighting, and enough connection ports to satisfy any high-tech whim.
Prior to the concert starting we ordered room service, which regrettably was poor quality for a five-star (or any star) hotel. I wasted AED 160 on a can of ginger ale, a club sandwich, and a small appetizer sampler that might as well come from the frozen food isle at the local supermarket. With irritated tummies we left our rooms to find the Executive Lounge and bag some complimentary drinks. A beer and a glass of wine soon made things better and I also noticed that the gratis snacks in the Exec Lounge were ten times better than the swill we ordered earlier. Next time we’ll pass on room service.
After the drinks a hotel shuttle whisked us off to the Metallica concert which was, as I mentioned in my other review, extraordinary. Rather than waiting for a return shuttle, we casually strolled back to Yas Viceroy, a mere 20 minutes walk. At that point maybe we should have sampled one of the hotel’s bars or nightclubs, but the concert had been enough entertainment for us; we were happy just to relax in our luxurious suites.
The next morning we headed for Origins restaurant (inside the hotel) and the breakfast buffet which is included with the room rate. We were curtly turned away at the door at 10:45am and informed that the buffet ended at 10:30am. More bad luck with food, we thought, but when we returned to our room and read the information paper they had given us, it clearly stated that the buffet ran until 11:00am. I made a swift call to the manager at Origins and soon one of the hotel staff wheeled up a personal breakfast to our suites. This time the room service cuisine was much better and we appreciated that the restaurant manager had made up for their error on buffet timings.
While checking out, a disgruntled guest ahead of us managed to slow the whole process down a bit, but otherwise we got through most of it without any hassle, and we drove back home feeling well fed and rested. To sum up the experience:
Yas Viceroy is beautifully lit up at night and well located on the race circuit and marina. The suites are spacious and luxurious, with just about every amenity you might want in a hotel room (although I think a jacuzzi tub might be better than a regular bathtub!). It was more than the Gulf Vantage crew required, but I think the Executive Suites are an excellent choice for corporate guests, especially if they are conducting business at the hotel. There is a meeting lounge within the room, but if that isn’t enough, access to the Executive Lounge and conference areas should do the trick. The hotel itself is well placed for races or concert events, and package deals are available. I also appreciated the manager at Origins who rescued us from the breakfast buffet dilemma.
The first room service was an overpriced downer. With 12 dining and lounge venues on site, I guess it depends on which restaurant delivers your food. You would hope that a high standard would apply to all. Yas Viceroy appears elegant in many respects, although some areas of the hotel are starting to look shabby; this is mostly in the public areas though and the rooms still look classy. At AED 1,950 per night, the Executive Suite is an expensive sleep, so you’d better get a package deal like we did, or have a good reason for needing the extras such as the Executive Lounge. I also don’t recommend Yas Viceroy for those tourists wanting to base themselves in Abu Dhabi. Yas Island is isolated and at least 15 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi; it is only a good location for Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Marina, or the concert venue.
Yas Viceroy Hotel
P.O. Box 1318
Abu Dhabi, UAE T +971 2 656 0000
F +971 2 656 0001
Reservations: +971 2 656 0700
Executive Suite for 2: AED 1,950 per night (but don’t pay the standard rate; check online for special offers).
Metallica Package Deal: AED 1,850, which included the Executive Suite and 2 Fan Pit Tickets (worth AED 1,200).