Let me introduce you to one of my favorite Abu Dhabi hot spots -the Shangri-la Souk.
The Shangri-La hotel is a large hotel complex set in lush green gardens, the white buildings are reflected in pools and canals around the complex. The canal waterway gently flows through the grounds and guests can take a relaxing ride in traditional abras gondolas all the way to the hotel's very own souk opened in 2008.
Joining the hotel grounds is an entire souk or market designed as a traditional Middle Eastern souk but you won't find old, traditional stalls here, there are only top of the line boutique style stores, restaurants, cafes and bars. The souk takes up two floors spread over 6,222m² and the architecture is a mixture of Arabian and Venetian with luxurious details.
The souk is located in the between the Maqtaa Bridge and the Musaffah Bridge in the Qaryat Al Beri area (also known as Between Two Bridges) on the Abu Dhabi waterfront. This shopping arcade is an easy 20 minute drive from the center of Abu Dhabi and offers an alternative to other shopping malls. Unlike other hotels which have a few stores in the lobby this "souk" is in a separate building. The unique design and décor are reminiscent of a traditional market.
Dining in the Shangri-la Souk
One of the themes of the souk is the traditional Arabian hospitality and you can get a taste of this in one of the many souk eateries. Within the souk you can find restaurants and cafes like Starbucks, Meat Co. and Noodle House (one of my favourite Abu Dhabi restaurants! as well as a Lebanese restaurant, Addel Wahab, and casual cafes. You can find cuisine from around the world here including Chinese, Indian (Ushna), South African (Mombasa Grille), Japanese (Sho Cho) and French (Le Paradis du Fruit) food. Some of the eateries have pleasant outdoor seating with views of the beautiful gardens, waterways and the marina.
Shopping in the Shangri-la Souk
The traditional stores in the souk include a store selling Arabian dates , Arabian perfumes (Oud), Middle Eastern clothes and Arabian jewelry. You can also find art galleries displaying local art work and several smaller specialty stores.
There are antique stores, two banks as well as several fashion and accessory stores like Nails, Pace E Luce and Yateem Optician.
There are a selection of women's wear stores and gift stores you can also do your grocery shopping in the small Abela supermarket here. Other services in the souk are a laundry service, valet parking, a car wash, prayer room and the mall is protected 24/7 by security surveillance.
The souk is open to the general public (not just hotel guests) and can be visited from 9am until 9pm daily, restaurants and bars are open later than the stores, some of them until 1am. Don't miss it -a modern souk with fabulous food and shops-there's even a Starbucks! Enjoy!
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What's your favorite place in the Shangri-la Souk?