Leaning luxury: A review of the Andaz Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi
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It must be something about mid-November: Last year, I stayed at what was then the nicest hotel I’ve ever visited, the Park Hyatt Beijing. And now, during overlapping dates a year later, I found myself at another impressive Hyatt property, the Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. This property was rebranded from a Hyatt to an Andaz about a year ago, and the staff says the property underwent many changes after the rebranding.
Points nerds will be happy to know that this is the lowest category Andaz in Hyatt’s portfolio, architecture nerds will love staying at the top of a building that tilts 18 degrees and AvGeeks will enjoy watching military planes and helicopters fly past.
Here’s what it was like to stay at the Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi.
I needed to stay for four nights in Abu Dhabi between two flight reviews. I likely would’ve stayed at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi Downtown for $91 or 25,000 IHG points per night if this hadn’t been a work trip, but TPG decided I should review the Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi for $148 (after taxes and fees) or 8,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
We recently learned that in a few months Hyatt will be making significant changes to its award chart, including a gentler version of dynamic pricing with off-peak, standard and peak pricing. When the changes go into effect in March 2020, this Category 2 property will cost you anywhere from 6,500 (off-peak) to 8,000 (standard) to 9,500 points (peak) per night.
The Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is in the upper stories of the Capital Gate skyscraper, which is known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi and stands at over 520 feet tall and leans an impressive 18 degrees. In 2010, Capital Gate was declared the world’s most tilted building. And, as National Geographic’s documentary “The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi” taught me on my flight to Abu Dhabi, the building’s construction required novel construction and design techniques.
Capital Gate is between the Abu Dhabi airport (AUH) and downtown. It was a 15-minute Uber ride from the airport, which cost me 90 dirhams (about $25) each way.
The hotel is adjacent to the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre, but is a 10-to-20-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi. So it’s important to consider whether the hotel’s location is appropriate for your trip.
My flight arrived just after 1 a.m., and I arrived at the hotel around 2 a.m. My Uber dropped me off at the hotel’s main entrance, but the ground floor lobby — which was set up as an art gallery — was completely empty besides a roaming security guard. I initially wasn’t sure what to do, but then I noticed elevators and remembered the hotel lobby was on the 18th floor.
Once on the 18th floor, I saw a reception desk.
But before I even got near the desk, an Andaz host invited me to take a seat and said someone would be over shortly to check me in. Someone did come over quickly and asked for my passport. He returned about four minutes later with a check-in form and a credit card machine. I’d paid with points, but the hotel needed to take a deposit.
The check-in agent said I could add breakfast to my stay for 88 dirhams (about $25) per night, but I needed to do so at check-in. I decided to add the breakfast, and he also gave me various information about the property before pointing me toward the elevator.
I’d booked a room with one king bed and was given Room 2909 on the 29th floor. Guest rooms are on floors 20 to 33, so this was a higher-than-average standard room.
I entered the room into a hallway.
I walked past closets on the right and the bathroom on the left into the room.
The king bed was a full-size king bed. Four big but relatively flat feather pillows were provided, and the headboard was lightly padded to encourage relaxing in bed. I slept well in this bed and found it perfectly supportive while not being too hard or soft.
There were ledges on both sides of the bed, each with light controls and one Type G power outlet (the kind with the rectangular slots that’s standard in the U.K. and its former colonies and protectorates). There was a large bench at the foot of the bed that was good for luggage or sitting.
Next to the bed along the windows were two red sitting chairs on either side of a coffee table. Although these chairs didn’t look that comfortable, I enjoyed spending time sitting in one of them while reading a book.
Next to the chairs was a desk that faced the windows. It was great to look out across Abu Dhabi while working. The desk chair didn’t have wheels, though, so I had to actively work to slide it in toward the desk.
There were HDMI cables and various input outlets for connecting your computer to the television. However, I connected both HDMI cables to my computer and couldn’t get the television to connect.
The 40-inch television — behind the desk and facing the bed — could display information about the hotel.
But the television was unable to connect to any channels or pull up information about my account. I didn’t realize this until my last night, though, so I didn’t bother to call for support.
Next to the television was a small nook with a small teakettle, water bottles and a minibar.
There were disposable cups as well as glasses and mugs in a drawer under this nook. The drawer also included peppermint tea, English breakfast tea and dehydrated coffee.
Next to the nook was a cabinet that opened to display a refrigerator. All of the snacks and nonalcoholic drinks in the minibar were complimentary, although you needed to pay if you wanted these items refilled. There were prices listed for the alcoholic beverages.
Walking back toward the room’s entrance was a green robe hanging. I initially though this was a bathrobe, but an Andaz host said it was designed for guests to wear around the hotel if they wished. I didn’t see any guests wearing their robes around the hotel during my stay, though.
Across from the green robe were three closet doors. The first door opened to nine shelves, one of which contained a safe and another with a tray with a hairdryer.
The other two closet doors opened to a lighted closet with 13 hangers, a luggage shelf, an iron and ironing board, a bag for complimentary shoe polishing, two pairs of slippers, a scale and information about the laundry service.
Across from the closet was the bathroom. The vanity was large, with ample space for toiletries. There was a makeup mirror on the left side of the sink.
The door next to the sink contained a toilet and a bidet.
The other door contained a large shower stall. There was a handheld shower head that could be placed in a holder, as well as an overhead shower. I love a good rainfall shower, but this one wasn’t very strong, so I mainly used the handheld.
Across from the shower room and toilet room was a large bathtub, which was comfortable for me to lounge in at 5 feet, 5 inches, and I expect that someone even a few inches taller than me would be able to completely stretch out their legs while relaxing. Unlike some bathtubs, this tub filled up quickly, so I didn’t have to wait too long to take a bath.
There were two white robes hanging next to the bathtub. They were made of a towel-like material that was soft but absorbent.
There was a see-through glass wall between the bathroom and bedroom, although the doors to the toilet room and shower were partially frosted. The see-through glass wall made the room feel more open and larger, but if you didn’t want to be able to see into the bathroom, you could lower a shade.
I enjoyed the master light switches on both sides of the bed, since this made turning off lights at bedtime easy. And the lighting accents around the bathtub and above the minibar and television made the room look particularly nice.
Food and beverage
There were two primary dining options at the Andaz Capital Gate: the Andaz Lounge and 18 degrees. 18 degrees was the main restaurant on site.
18 degrees served breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch from noon to 3 p.m. and dinner from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. This was where the breakfast buffet was.
I ate breakfast at the restaurant each morning. I was encouraged to choose a table and then would be asked what I’d like to drink and instructed to help myself from the buffet.
The buffet was the same each morning and wasn’t as extensive as you’ll often see at similar-quality hotels.
Some of the breakfast options — the quinoa mushrooms, roasted potato, fresh cheeses, za’atar croissants and the made-to-order egg station — were excellent. But others I tried, like the falafel, bacon, egg frittata, cottage pie and most bread options, were stale or had been sitting out too long.
I tried dinner at the 18 degrees restaurant one evening. I made a reservation for 7:15 p.m. and was able to get a table outside on the terrace, overlooking the city.
The restaurant offered various cocktails and mocktails inspired by the hotel and city. I tried the Purple Bubbles for 60 dirhams (about $15), which was vodka, sparking wine, sugar syrup, lime juice, lemon juice, cream, egg white, orange flower water and blueberries. The drink tasted like it contained a lot of alcohol but didn’t otherwise have a notable taste. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t order it again.
For dinner at 18 degrees, I ordered the salmon steak for 102 dirhams (a little under $30) and a side of mashed potatoes for 31 dirhams ($8). The salmon was moist and perfectly cooked, but I would have preferred some seasoning on the fish. The salmon was served on top of a white bean mash, which complemented the fish. The mashed potatoes were creamy and lightly seasoned, making them an appealing comfort food.
The Andaz Lounge was a more casual coffee, tea and snack place in the hotel lobby.
You could order food and drinks from a menu. There were also usually complimentary self-serve drinks, cookies, nuts and dates available, as well.
Hotel guests could order complimentary tea and coffee all day, either to drink in the lounge or to take away.
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day, there was a complimentary wine tasting for hotel guests in the Andaz Lounge. There were a couple of Andaz hosts mingling in the lounge at this time to chat with guests.
There was also 24-hour room service. I tried room service one night, and it took 33 minutes for my order to be delivered. I ordered a club sandwich for 85 dirhams (about $25) and a Paulaner beer for 55 dirhams (about $15).
The club sandwich was sizable and generally good, although the bacon was too chewy for my taste. The sandwich came with fries and a salad, both of which were fresh. As I was eating my meal, room service called my room to ensure everything was to my liking. I put my tray outside my door once I was finished, and noticed it had been removed when I walked outside a few hours later.
You may also be able to get a snack or drink at the pool bar on the 19th floor or at 165 below on the Capital Gate ground floor, but the opening hours for these venues was unclear when I was there.
There were also happy-hour specials most nights from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the 18 degrees terrace bar.
One of the best amenities offered by the Andaz Capital Gate was the outdoor swimming pool. The pool was on the 19th floor and open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There were many padded seats with shade umbrellas nearby, although wind sometimes prevented the umbrellas from being used. You could swim or relax in the pool, and there was also a shallow sitting area in the water at one end of the pool.
Although the pool bar never appeared open when I visited the pool, there was self-serve infused water available.
The fitness center was also on the 19th floor and open 24 hours a day. The fitness center had three treadmills, three exercise bikes, two elliptical trainers and one rowing machine.
For weight training, there was one weightlifting bar and mat, one Smith machine, various free weights with two benches and five resistance machines. There was also a punching bag, various exercise balls and medicine balls.
The Rayana Spa was also on the 19th floor and offered facials, massages and body treatments. The spa was open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
In the lobby, there was the Pulse book. This guidebook contained local secrets from past guests and was fun to flip though. If you arrive without knowing what to do, the Pulse is a good place to start.
The guest rooms were along the edges of the building, with a hollow center atrium. The support structure in the atrium was beautiful, although pictures didn’t properly capture the feel.
You could use the complimentary Wi-Fi, or you can pay 60 dirhams (about $15) for 24 hours of premium internet.
I used the complimentary version and found it to be relatively slow but usable for my needs at 5.54 Mbps download and 3.91 Mbps upload. Notably, neither my personal VPN nor my work VPN remained connected for longer than a few minutes over the complimentary Wi-Fi.
There was a long list of items you could have delivered to your room.
Besides the lack of anyone manning the lower lobby reception when I arrived, the service was on point in all my interactions with Andaz staff. As this was an Andaz property, the front desk’s staff members were called “Andaz Hosts,” and the general service vibe was more friendly and personal than formal. From my interactions with the housekeeping staff to the waitstaff at the restaurant to the hosts, everyone was friendly and helpful. And housekeeping was very attentive in resetting everything from soaps to the television remote just right, as well as doing little things like removing loose hair from my hairbrush.
During the nightly wine hours, the hosts chatted with the guests. Most guests at the hotel appeared to be traveling as couples or in groups, but the hosts seemed to pay particular attention to guests traveling alone or who had questions. An Andaz host chatted with me for about 25 minutes during the wine tasting one evening, which I thought was a nice touch.
During my stay, cash rates were relatively reasonable at $148 per night including taxes and fees. But the Andaz Capital Gate is a Category 2 Hyatt property, so you’ll only need to pay 8,000 Hyatt points per night (at least for the time being) even when cash prices are higher.
My room was comfortable and spacious, the service friendly and personable, the views from almost all rooms should be impressive, and the pool area and fitness center are well designed. However, if you want to be in the heart of downtown or closer to the airport, this property may not be the right choice for you. As for me, I’m already looking forward to my next stay.
All photos by the author.