Al Nafoura, an urban lounge experience - Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi

I get very excited when hoteliers think out of the box and create something out of nothing. The something in this case is the Al Nafoura Lounge which has joined Beach Rotana's already-extensive range of F&B outlets. What was previously pretty much wasted space has now become  a lounge with a wonderful aesthetic appeal. Appropriately, it means 'fountain' in English; the lounge is set amidst the fountains with sumptuous views of the water and the lights on Al Maryah Island.

1. Come in and feel at home

That is exactly the concept here. Al Nafoura has a very homely feel to it. Comfortable sofas are easily the most inviting options but if you want a  more traditional table and chair set up, you will find this too. The latter is especially useful in the mornings I reckon, when breakfast is also served. There is really a unique appeal about the lounge here and I am surprised by the excellent choice of furniture. It is as if they really cared about putting out something that was very easy on the the eye and not merely functional. 

2.  Connecting once more with my favourite Arabic chef.

I love what I do. It means I get to meet so many chefs and I find out what inspires and excites them. A few years ago I met Chef Abu Halab Al Daikh when he was Head Arabic Chef at another Rotana property in the city. I had the pleasure of finding he had moved to Beach Rotana - I have to credit him with the best fattoush salad I have ever had, created at his previous property. He has come up with a menu that you would expect but I love his little twists. 

On the night, I try a nice Sushi selection, incidentally provided by the hotel's Japanese outlet, Benihana. The other starters also really lend themselves to sharing, ensuring the night out does not cost you too much. Baba ganoush, Fattoush, Traditional hummus and my fave mezze on the night, the Pumpkin hummus are served with warm Arabic bread. I have it with a glass of South African sparkling wine, a Simonsig Brut, a very affordable glass of bubbly.It is a lovely addition to the Rotana wine list. The Pumpkin hummus, by the way, is delicious and is an interesting contrast to Chef's classic traditional hummus. You will learn that hummus is not just hummus when you try Chef's. 

For our mains we have Shish taouk, which is delicately seasoned with lemon. It is juicy and tender. However, it is the Seabass on eggplant (moutabel) that is my pick. I have never had this combination before and the more I think about it, the more I realise how much it makes sense. Seabass and moutabel - very nicely done. And for dessert? One word and one word only - kunaffa! 

3. Cocktails in the lounge

Al Nafoura has a small drinks menu, but one that has some lovely cocktails. While the standard hotel drinks list is available with its extensive range of wines, I found it a real pleasure looking at a succinct menu. It makes decisions so easy. Notwithstanding, I do enjoy the Rotana 'If you like this, you will love' wine list - it is easy to navigate and I see they have added some higher quality by-the-glass labels. 

Whie I am not a shisha smoker, I feel the open air and spacious lay out means that I can really enjoy my evening at A Nafoura. In fact, interestingly on my visit, I find the demographic of visitors really interesting, with a more mature guest selection. I am particular glad there are no children - I cannot tolerate having children in restaurants where shisha is smoked. 

Al Nafoura Lounge has music too, although I am not sure this works. Music is always a tough one. The playlist moved from typical lounge to ambient. I wanted some Arabic music actually! Looking ahead, I can see a live performer on the last weekend of each month. That would be something extra to look forward to.

Overall, considering the creative way in which this lounge was born, out of nothing but an empty, unused space, a simple menu that reflects the skills of a wonderful chef in Abu Halab Al Daikh and also draws on some of the best of Benihana, some delightful cocktails and not to mention the exquisite setting, Al Nafoura Is a venue that you should definitely enjoy in these relatively cool nights. 

Al Nafoura Lounge,
Beach Rotana Hotel,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6979000

Selected menu items

Hummus traditional 31AED
Fattoush 38 AED
Shish Taouk 94 AED
Seabass eggplant 119 AED
Evening for 2 excl drinks and shisha 250-300AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp