Let me just be honest here. I never expected to book a holiday to Abu Dhabi. The glitz and glamour and the sense of artificiality just didn't appeal to me. I also had a preconceived notion of the kind of people who visit Abu Dhabi (and Dubai). But after a long dark winter in London I had a change of heart. I wanted to lie by a pool in some guaranteed sunshine and really relax and recharge. It was one of the best holiday decisions we've ever made!
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is a stunning luxury five star resort, with architecture evocative of the Italian Renaissance. It has one extremely large pool which looks onto a stretch of private beach, as well as eight restaurants. Before you think it, no - it didn't feel like one of those massive resorts jam-packed with Brits abroad. Quite the opposite. It was calm, friendly and immensely relaxing. We had a deluxe room with a large balcony overlooking the pool. It has a popular spa which spills out onto the poolside with offers of complimentary leg and foot massages (heaven!)
The hotel is set against the backdrop of the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is really worth visiting Abu Dhabi to visit this breathtaking mosque alone. Just look at the pictures.
Arrive about an hour before the sun sets, and you will be able to experience the mosque by sunlight, sunset, and moonlight. We went round and took basically the same sets of pictures three times over, every time completely awe-inspired. The beauty of it is hard to translate unless you are there and I'd recommend joining the free hour long tour which allows you to go inside the mosque itself.
You can borrow an abaya (black dress) when you're there but be sure to dress modestly.