Review: the Dorm Room Where You Want to Sleep Between First Class and Paradise

This post details my airport overnight at the Premier Inn at the Abu Dhabi airport. This is my second time staying there, it just makes sense to me arriving around 8pm and departing on a flight about 12 hours later.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction, overview, and costs
  2. Star Alliance first class and business class lounges, LAX
  3. Etihad First Class, Los Angles – Abu Dhabi.. the 3rd Longest Flight in the World!

Upon landing at an apron position, and taking a bus to the terminal, I had my strangest immigration experience yet. And as a result it took about an hour to get from plane to bed. That made me all the more grateful not to be heading into Abu Dhabi, and needing to head back in the morning.

I wasn’t going to ‘go out’. I had just flown the third longest flight in the world and I wanted to sleep. I’ve been to Abu Dhabi many times. That’s when you want an airport hotel and here there are only really two, with the next closest properties over on Yas Island. (On a single ticket as a connecting passenger Etihad no longer offers complimentary car service in Abu Dhabi.)

When choosing an airport hotel I generally believe that you want, all things equal:

  1. The hotel attached to the airport
  2. If no hotel attached to the airport, the one that’s most recently renovated

At the Abu Dhabi airport there’s a transit hotel inside the terminal that is fairly old and not where I wanted to spend a night.

And there’s a new Premier Inn that’s attached to the airport, essentially across the street from the terminals and connected by walkway through a retail corridor. I stayed at the same property in May 2014, and it was pretty much in exactly the same shape although often getting higher room rates. I booked it through Orbitz and used Orbucks since I wouldn’t earn any sort of stay credit I needed anyway.

To get to the hotel you just follow the purple signage in the terminal although if you know where you’re going it’s faster to walk out the front of the airport and cross the street (what I did on the return the next morning).

You’ll walk past the car rental agencies and then past 24 hour fast food.

Then you’ll walk over to where there’s an elevator down to the Premier Inn entrance.

In the entryway is a 24 hour coffee shop with pastries and some pretty decent coffee.

Check-in is friendly and efficient. The only delay is the moment they take to try to get you to prepay breakfast, which I’ve declined on both my stays.

Here’s the restaurant, just beside the elevator up to the rooms.

Get in the elevator and you’ll see there are prayer rooms, a gym, and a swimming pool.

Now here’s where the dorm part comes in. The rooms are totally utilitarian. Just have a look at the hallway.

I was assigned a room with a double bed and a small single.

The room is small. It’s functional. There are beds and a desk and a tiny shelf area with mirror.

They do — apparently — offer a choice of pillows, although I haven’t inquired about using this option.

The bathroom has a toilet, sink, and tub — and the shower is inside the tub. The tub has high sides, be careful getting in and out, it would be easy to trip.

There’s a soap dispenser on the wall next to the sink.

And a single dispenser of liquid to wash body and hair in the shower/tub combo.

When I was in high school in Central California, I was on the debate team and we traveled out of town frequently. The most common destination was Bakersfield. Our team always stayed in a motel off the freeway called the “California Inn.” There weren’t individual soaps in the bathroom. Instead, there was a wall-mounted dispenser with liquid soap that was called “EuroBath.” And sixteen year-old me thought that was special stuff! It’s from Europe! This hotel makes me feel like I’m back in high school on a debate trip.

You’ve got views of the airport grounds, although not much interesting.

This hotel is clean. It is close. Easy in and out. And reasonably priced. It’s the place I choose for a quick overnight. And it makes me feel like I’m back in college.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. When did they stop offering complimentary car service into Abu Dhabi on overnight stops. We’re flying Etihad F JFK-AUH-KTM and decided to spend our 14hr layover in town partially because people kept talking about how convenient the car service was.

  2. Nards to this. I spend my long Abu Dhabi layovers at the Radisson Blu Yaz Island. If you have the credit card, you get the second night free on points, so we go there, have a nice breakfast, sit by the pool, all for 0$, even if I get in and leave at weird hours.

  3. This is pretty standard for Premier Inns. Their big benefit is that they are clean and reasonably priced. By the way, if you pull up the sheets off the “single” you’ll find a sofa-like chaise. Makes the room a bit more comfortable.

  4. I’ve stayed at the Premier Inn in Abu Dhabi at the airport many times. Super convenient, cheap and it has a very good gym and pool. Can’t find the same in many American hotels at much more expensive rates. Have stayed at the Premier Inn in Dubai and it’s not as convenient or friendly.

  5. What is the closest nice hotel to the airport that one can use points on? It will only be 14 hours, but if transport is only 20 minutes, I’d rather be in a nicer hotel.

    It might be good for one of those annual free Hyatt certs or Marriott certs?

  6. looking for book this for a 12 hour layover – website says something about needing a visa since it’s not airside – searched and found US passports can receive one on arrival – but is there is a cost for this? i found different results – some website say it’s free for 30 days, other says there is a fee for transit visas

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