Reviews, Travel

Hilton Al Ain – A Staycation Story

Staycations, weekend getaways, one-day trips- call it what you want, just like any other spoilt, Dubai-based expatriate, I’m a sucker for them. Sure, while the packing gets done cheerfully in a glorious 10-minute window, the unpacking proves to be a heart-breaking venture I’d rather not talk about. The suitcase lies in the hallway like an eye-sore for 2 straight days and tugs at your heart breaking it to a million pieces (incase you haven’t yet noticed, Im a bit of a drama queen). But all said and done, I love that 24-48 hours of tenting up at a new hotel/ resort, disconnected from anything remotely resembling a kitchen, preferably with a beach or pool in the vicinity. Hilton Al Ain proved to be exactly that to my tattered, work-beaten self. A cozy room, some lovely food and a great big pool.

When the invite came, I was quite reluctant to take it up. The toddler in the house was exposing me to harsher dimensions of parenthood with her tantrums reaching higher realms. Afterall, terrible two’s are not something you can mess around with. Finally, the husband poured over his support serum, and I found myself accepting the invitation.

After wrestling with the Thursday evening traffic and the many (oh so many) roundabouts of Alain city, we stumbled into the reception of Hilton Alain. By the time the keys were handed over, Mehreen had already made some friends in the lobby and a rubber ducky had miraculously found its way to her little hands. My point of contact was the Assistant Marketing Manager, a darling lady named Alona, who was quick to take us for a tour of the hotel dining and recreational facilities and then left us to unwind as we pleased in the property.

A little about the room…

I wish I knew where hotels like Hilton source their beds/duvets/pillows from, regardless of the fact whether I can ever afford them! The squishy-swishy beds were laid out clean and perfect. The mini-bar was empty and the welcome basket could have looked better. There was a comfortable study table and a LOT of plug points that made life easy for us while we were there. Bathroom was clean and decked up with fancy toiletries. Water pressure – perfect!

Makani Café…

Our dinner reservation was made at the Makani Café, which was an open air garden restaurant serving Arabic food, drinks and sheesha, in the ambience of a constant cool breeze and Cuban singers performing on stage. Heaters were aplenty, toning down the chilly night and the singers provided the perfect entertainment with pleasant, easy-on-the-ears music.

From the live station, came our Cheese manakeesh, hummous, salad and the mixed grill platter. The manakeesh was delicious, though it had to be eaten up quick before the cold weather turned it into an annoying rubbery something. The grills were soft and succulent and were marinated deliciously. I wish we were smart enough to remove them off the grill sooner, so that few pieces wouldn’t have got charred. The portion sizes are great and we were disappointed to not be able to finish it fully between the two of us. The best part was ofcourse the dessert choice I made – The Dates Crème Brulee was the perfect finale to end the night with. The crust came out with a well-satisfying crunch as I attacked it with my spoon. The texture and taste did justice to the appearance of the dessert.

Flavors…

The next day breakfast was served at the all-day dining venue called Flavors. We opted for the outdoor seating adjacent to the pool, and realized it was a bad decision. The weather had led way to too many flies that was a nuisance to dine peacefully under. Too much time and effort was spent on waving them off our food, that we were too distracted to enjoy the breakfast properly. Inside however, the ambience was perfect with a satisfying spread of English breakfast and even some Indian options like Idly and chutney.

The pool area I spoke about earlier was a 3m deep lap pool. NOT my cup of tea. A little away, there was a large family-friendly pool and a small children’s pool, alongside a play area boasting swings and slides. Little Miss Mehreen paddled and splashed around the children’s pool happily. Lots of rubber duckies and water toys kept her engaged. After the water baby got worn out, we headed into the Hiltonia Club for an a la carte lunch.

Hiltonia Club…

My sore throat demanded something warm – so I went for the Tom Yam soup. My appetite looked for something light – the grilled fish appealed to it the best. The husband predictively went for the Wagyu Burger. All in all, a pleasant lunch. Not too outstanding, but definitely nothing to complain about. If anything, the soup was super fragrant and flavorful.

Water play and a hearty lunch called for a siesta. Dad, mom and little girl curled up on the squishy bed to a lovely little nap before freshening up for dinner. Yes, we were living the Eat.Sleep.Repeat dream!

Turkish Night at Flavors…

Friday night was Turkish night at Flavors, with the Turkish Executive Chef showing off his prowess over his mother-cuisine. The spread was as authentic as it would get. There were Fried Lamb Liver and Turkish Ravioli on one side, and decadent Turkish sweets and super strong Turkish coffee on the other. We devoured the manakeesh served to our table, sampled the entire vibrant salad bar and relished the dessert counter.

By sitting indoors the next day, our breakfast was enjoyed, as it should be. The standard items remained, while the paratha and masala tickled the Indian version of our appetite. A stroll around the premises brought to light the lack of an indoor soft-play area, which I would have tremendously appreciated for my energetic 2 year old.

The one and a half days of break in Hilton unveiled to me couple of facts about the international hotel group- fantastic service & fine food. The restaurant rate cards did not bear shocking figures. The 2-3 times we had to bother the housekeeping in the middle of the night, they came with the brightest of smiles and left behind impeccable service. And that’s saying something! If I see the property devising an activity or two to keep the little busy bodies entertained for couple of hours, I can positively see myself jumping at the next opportunity to hit it off with Hilton Alain on another relaxing getaway!


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