Arabian nights in contemporary splendour, is what the Abu Dhabi Edition offers through its distinctive design by Wimberly Interiors
EDITION hotels serve as homes away from home for the uber cool travellers of the world – and this eco-conscious design destination is no exception
If you’re ever in Abu Dhabi with an Instagram feed that needs a one-of-a-kind luxe upgrade, make a beeline for The Abu Dhabi EDITION. Known worldwide for tailored experiences, unorthodox luxury and a minimalist aesthetic, iconic hotelier Ian Schrager’s EDITION hotels serve as homes away from home for the uber cool travellers of the world – and this eco-conscious design destination is no exception.
The distinctive façade of the hotel, gleaming majestically in the desert sun, was inspired by the lateen sails of traditional dhows. Inside, a homely warmth envelopes you, even as contemporary furniture and subtle lighting meet ornate Middle Eastern carpets, meandering walkways, lush landscaping and a procession of softly glowing candles. The focal point of the five-storey lobby is a large-scale kinetic installation suspended from the ceiling, titled 'In 20 Steps'. Created by world-renowned art collective Studio Drift, it pays tribute to evolution and the ultimate human desire to be able to fly. The lobby also boasts a gold pool table (an Edition signature) as well as two striking armchairs by Emirati designer Latifa Saeed, inspired by the signature braids that Emirati children wear. A brass-clad reception desk is flanked by palm trees, and a gold-leaf feature wall is gently washed with a delicate light. The hotel has an abundance of public areas, each with an individual yet intimate feel.
Wimberly Interiors’ design vision was a distinctive, upscale environment that is forward-looking while respecting and celebrating the lifestyle and traditions of the Emirati culture. “Due to the location on the Al Bateen peninsula, the design concept grew naturally from this setting,” explains Rachel Johnson, senior vice president and studio director, Wimberly Interiors. “In collaboration with Ian Schrager Company, we drew inspiration from local elements and reflected this in the building’s fabric.”
The building was still under construction when Wimberly Interiors first came on board. A collaborative exercise between owner, operator and designer, the original concept was an open, modern and simple space. As with most hospitality projects, the schedule was one of the most challenging aspects of the creation process. “Schedules are fluid and can change rapidly due to unforeseen circumstances, so we worked closely with the project management team to make sure everything ran as smooth as possible,” Johnson shares.
Given that this is the first EDITION hotel in the Middle East, with a 198-room hotel and 57 exclusive residences, it was vital to get the formula right. The brief was to cement EDITION as an icon in the hotel industry by creating a luxurious address while remaining sensitive to the country’s local heritage and native materials.
The simplicity of the design elements, along with the selection of materials and colour palette, were paramount to bringing this vision to life. Rich, tactile fabrics were incorporated into the design. Distinct seating areas in the lobby are separated by bronze screens, inspired by traditional Emirati architecture, allowing guests to lounge in the serene space. Nearby, Library Bar features velvet drapes that lend an intimacy to the space. The ballroom boasts gentle coffered eilings, crystal chandeliers and walls clad in elegant bevelled leather panels with bronze trim inserts.
The balconied rooms and suites are minimalistic yet comfortable, characterised by timber-panelled walls, herringbone oak floors and marble bathrooms. Each room features a black-and-white shot of sinuous sand dunes by celebrated photographer Brett Weston, and offers sweeping views of the Marina. The enormous marble bathrooms are fitted with a standalone tub and spacious rainforest shower. A bespoke Le Labo x Edition Hotel scent envelopes every room while the bathrooms are equipped with Le Labo x Edition Hotel toiletries. Décor accents draw inspiration from local basket weaving, while a neutral colour palette comes to life with pale khaki rugs, elegant off-white drapery, and a luxurious silver cashmere throw on the bed.
The destination restaurants, spearheaded by British chef Tom Aikens, are gastronomical havens. The Oak Room presents you with built-in velvet sofas, dark green velvet drapes, striking rock'n'roll photographs, and a monolithic Nero Marquina marble bar with dark chocolate leather stools. The restaurant even has a meat sommelier to help you pick the steak that’s just right for you. Head opposite, to Library Bar, for craft gin cocktails and literary art. The Market, a contemporary version of a typical Middle Eastern Bazaar, is dominated by classic marble flooring and Calacatta marble counters, with statement floor-to-ceiling shelving, dressed with copper accessories and pots of herbs. The hotel’s cutting-edge health restaurant, it features bright lighting and white marble to bring out the beautiful plating and colours of Buddha bowls and detox juices. Vertical folding timber shutters allow light from the terrace and marina to filter through, illuminating the naturally finished Thonet Bentwood chairs, light oak timber tables and potted palms.
The Alba Terrace, a coastal Mediterranean-style restaurant, is designed to encourage guests to linger. Terrazzo flooring and light marble table tops are complemented by a crisp colour palette of neutral tones and a large brass-clad aperitivo bar with Palissandro Blue stone. Head here for a spectacular Friday brunch of ricotta-filled tomatoes, red snapper carpaccio, burrata, tuna tartar, artichoke salads, meatballs, pizzas, fresh seafood, crab linguine, wine, and a range of delectable desserts.
At Annex, a multi-level social space, one can discover delicious Peruvian-inspired fare along with refreshing beverages. Take in the view from the rooftop garden bar, relax in the elegant gathering space on the second floor, or dance the night away in the DJ-hosted cocktail bar on the ground floor. The pool at the back of the hotel, which catches the sunlight every morning, is a great place to lounge – especially if you love poolside bars.
EDITION Spa boasts a central relaxation lounge with lounge seating and billowy sheer drapes that are designed to diffuse the light coming through the windows. Combined with accent lighting on the walls and shelving, this gives the space a subtle glow. Arabic-inspired bronze metal screens frame the hallway and entrance, accented by light oak flooring and grey timber wall finishes. The spa features seven treatment rooms, two hammams, a facial room and a couple’s massage room, complete with private relaxation area. The only spa in the UAE offering Himalayan Sound Therapy, EDITION Spa invites each guest to experience and embrace the unique grounding welcome ritual that precedes every visit. Guests can also choose to experience Warm Himalayan Salt Stone Therapy, the first and only one of its kind in the region, which emits 84 essential minerals into the system using Himalayan salt stones and Tibetan healing bowls alongside a carefully curated menu of specialist treatments. Men can also indulge in barbershop treatments at Chaps & Co.
The hotel manages to craft a unique environment of its own; one that is stimulating yet serene. The well thought-out spaces, plush materials, edgy aesthetics and friendly staff all come together to achieve this blend. Even with so many reasons to explore the neighbourhood, from the Abu Dhabi Louvre and Sheikh Zayed Heritage Centre to the Emirates Palace, the Corniche and Marina Mall, you just might find yourself struggling to leave this waterfront oasis of sorts.
Wimberly Interiors, by embracing local heritage, art and materials, have translated the iconic language of EDITION hotels into a one-of-a-kind design destination.