It was the first of its kind in my inbox. So I peered closer, read slower. Yes, indeed an invitation to a weekend stay at Rotana’s Centro Business Hotel in Abu Dhabi. My post on a family trip to one of my favorite cities, Muscat, had expanded FoodKissed to the beautiful dimension of travel. The Centro invite was thus, a welcome tide and I intended to swim it.

Swearing to write an honest review and hoping for a pleasant stay, we set off. Accompanying me were my husband, his mom, his brother and little Miss Mehreen. Not exactly on a business mission, the trek to the Capital seemed justified with the hotel extending its best available rates for our extra room.

We reached the destination, thanks to Mr. GPS who did a life-saving job guiding us through the roads and barricades of Abu Dhabi. Parked at the entrance, we waited for the uniformed staff at the door to guide us on the valet and luggage. Unfortunately, he felt it was more important to pursue his mobile phone conversation than to assist a group of confused guests. The husband turned a scary shade of red when the valet staff/ doorman declared “It’s not my job to help with the luggage, Sir”. The shade got darker when the “supervisor” came by explaining “That’s because you don’t know the budget hotel system, Sir!”. Well, to cut a long story short, we parked our car at the parking, loaded the luggage onto the trolley and rolled the cart ourselves up until the room. With all respects to the system of budget hotels, I couldn’t help wonder how much positivity could have been imparted had one of the staff idly standing at the reception had offered to help. Maybe the all too pampering hotels of Dubai has spoilt me.

Things rolled smoothly after that. The door was opened to reveal a comfortable room, soft beds and a clean bathroom. The value and comfort received for the hotel’s room rates were commendable.

Around 7.30pm, we strolled into the Centro all day dining restaurant called C.Taste for a look at the dinner options. The buffet was in place, the ambience was welcoming and the staff seemed to know how to make the guests comfortable.

We opted for the buffets and further ordered the Oven Roasted Lamb Rack from the A La Carte menu. While I appreciate the abundance in the buffets, it was necessary to get the mains right, and hence the decision to try something from the menu card. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The lamb was well done, the rosemary & parmesan mashed potatoes was divine and the accompanying sauce was enjoyable. Though for AED 84, I’d probably have enjoyed the dish more with some more meat on the plate.

The buffet spread was varied for the budget hotel. The salad bar was vivid and long and faced close competition from the enticing assortments of appetizers like eggplant mussaka, tabouleh, beetroot mutabal, fish taraboulsi, fatoush and more.

While the conservative lentil soup started the next section, things got interesting with the lamb with okra, creamy fish thermidor and well-flavored Shepherd’s pie. Sadly, the Grilled Chicken was too dry for my taste and the pasta with tomato sauce a tad bland. Dessert section showcased Raspberry Choco Triffle, carrot cake, Arabic sweets, red velvet cake, mousse and fruits. I would have liked the mousse and triffle a little less sweeter, but the red velvet and carrot cake were a decent job.

Back in the room, the buffet did its job of lulling us to a good slumber. Though I must say the very comfortable beds and blankets had a fair part to play too!

After having slept with tummy full of food, it was still a wonderful feeling to wake up to the thoughts of a good breakfast buffet. Without much time wasted, we were primed and off to the restaurant. The breakfast spread was certainly not a letdown. From freshly cooked ful medames to freshly baked beans, Centro Oatmeal and Green Pea Pulao, the breakfast extended to freshly baked donuts, muffins, croissants and Danish through the bustling egg, waffle and pancake stations. The service was appreciable with the staff courteously offering to bring our choices to the table, saving us the trouble of waiting for the omlettes and waffles.

After taking a break in the comfort of our rooms, we set to explore the pool and activity floor of Centro. The sun was kind on us, so we splashed around in the cool waters and then relaxed on the comfortable couches on the terrace with some healthy family gossip. A quick pit stop at the hotel’s bar & bites room called C.Mondo let us enjoy the casual, laidback ambience of the hotel with some vino.

Contrary to the check-in scenario, my check-out was extremely hassle-free, thanks to the polite and helpful staff at the reception. A cranky Mehreen demanded us to checkout a day sooner than planned, and this meant the advance payment we gave was unnecessary. The staff suggested ways to refund it back to us with the least difficulty and made sure we left the doors only with a smile and not a frown.

The Centro in few words: Great rooms for very good rates, decent food, helpful staff (the valet staff belongs to a hired valet company, which the hotel has assured they are looking to change). So if you are on a budget trip to the capital, I don’t see why you shouldn’t give Centro a shot.

Centro Capital Centre, Abu Dhabi. Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street. Ph: +971 2 4096666 F: +971 2 4096667