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I love staycations! They are probably the closest thing you'll get to a vacation and are easy on your pocket. So, when the team at Centro Sharjah invited me over to stay at their property, I was delighted!
For those of you who might not know, Centro happens to be a brand under the popular Rotana group. They've got hotels scattered all over the UAE & GCC and are expanding rapidly. I've stayed in a number of Rotana hotels in the past and have been thoroughly satisfied with their service. So I knew I was in for a treat! This hotel is conveniently located 5 minutes away from Sharjah International Airport and is a perfect haven for travelers who want to experience luxury at a budget.
As we entered the hotel premises, I was greatly impressed by what I saw. There was a beautiful fountain and lush greenery surrounding the hotel. With little walkways in between, it almost looked like a mini garden, I could have easily spent hours admiring the beautiful nature around me if it wasn't for the dreadful heat! The other thing that impressed me was the ample "covered" parking space around the hotel. You heard me, "covered" parking. Atleast we didn't have to worry about the burning hot steering & the ouch's while sitting down! Anyway, we chose to park the car ourselves rather than use their valet service.
The interior of the hotel was simple, yet sophisticated. With elegant furnishing and modern decor, it had a very professional look to it. I love how Centro Sharjah brought the great outdoors inside, with plants and water features. It certainly bought the hotel to life.
Although we were booked in for a studio room, the staff at the reception were unaware of this. I assumed that there was a slight miscommunication here. So, it did take a little longer than usual to check in even though we arrived at 2 pm. We were told that the room wouldn't be ready until 2.30 p.m. However, to our luck, our room was ready in less 10 minutes. I was certainly impressed by the reception staff's quick response.
Our studio room was quite big, considering that this was a budget hotel. It was bright, squeaky clean with ample space. It had a kitchenette, a comfy couch, a queen size bed and an attached bathroom. As soon as we pulled back the curtains, we had a beautiful view of the pool surrounded by lots of trees. It looked like we were in the midst of a tropical oasis.
The bathroom was equipped with basic essentials and had a separate walk-in shower. The kitchenette had a microwave, fridge and a kettle. Coffee, tea and water were complimentary. However, I do wish that they'd included some cutlery as well - perhaps two plates and spoons/forks? I loved the mini dining table attached to the kitchen. It sure felt like home.
The room also had a built in safe and a large LCD TV that could be rotated according to our convenience. Wi-fi was complimentary, so I began showing of my room on Instagram right away ;). I cannot begin to tell you how comfy the bed was. Experienced sleepers ( Mr. D ) tested it almost immediately and gave it a thumbs up!
Centro Sharjah also have a little gift store and an ATM inside the hotel. So, you don't have to worry if you've forgotten to buy a gift for your loved ones or run out of cash. They've got your covered. They also have an internet station. The are two restaurants at the hotel - C. Deli and C. Taste. C. Deli is open 24 hours and offers a variety of light bites. We were booked in on a full board basis. So, I had the opportunity to try out the delicious buffet at C.Taste.
The day we arrived, we were lucky enough to experience the Friday brunch. With plenty of salads, mains and desserts we were spoilt for choice. In the salad section, I personally loved the idea of making my own Caesar salads. This was probably the only time in my life when I went for a second round of salad at any brunch. I loved the heart of palm and shrimp salad as well.
For my mains, I opted to try out the food from the live cooking station. A live cooking station is the best thing that any buffet can have. We tried out the tandoori chicken and grilled creamy dory. Not only did they taste good, but were beautifully presented. Local specialties such as harees were also a part of the brunch.
From the array of desserts that were there, I tried out the sticky date pudding. My oh my! It was absolutely delicious. Definitely one the the best sticky date puddings that I've had in a long time.
Later that day, we went around exploring the hotel's recreational facilities. The hotel has a fully equipped gym that overlooks the pool. I used to gym during our stay because I couldn't bear the thought of that delicious food accumulating around my waist! There was a separate changing room for men as well as for women with a sauna facility. They were clean and well kept. The gym here is open 24 hours.
While I was at the gym, Mr. D took advantage of the pool. The pool was surrounded by loads of greenery (just like the entrance of the hotel), it was simply beautiful. There was a separate swimming area for kids as well. Near the pool was a jacuzzi and a table tennis area. After we finished our gym & swimming sessions respectively, we played a bit of table tennis before heading back to our room. Oh & by the way, the pool at Centro Sharjah is open until 10 p.m. If you're a night owl, this is perfect for you!
During dinner time, the entire dining space around C. Taste was beautifully lit up. The lights on the palm trees looked gorgeous. Some of the salads during the dinner buffet were repeated from afternoon. However, there were many others that were unique. The egg salad was a sight to see and great on the palate too! The mains comprised of Indian, Arabic and continental delights. Once again, I opted to try out the grilled food from the live food station along with butter chicken, steak and baked fish. This time, in addition to tandoori chicken I tried out the kebab as well. It was pure perfection. As for the desserts, the beautiful chocolate cups definitely stood out!
After a long day, we headed straight back to our room and off to bed!
The following morning, we were at C. Taste yet again for brekkie! I wouldn't dare step out of my bed at 8 a.m on a weekend, unless there was breakfast involved. This was going to be our final meal at C. Taste before checking out. They also had an outdoor dining option too. It would have been great to enjoy our breakfast near the pool in the midst of all that greenery. Sigh...maybe during the winter. Breakfast options were plenty with a live counter for egg. My personal favourites were the Potato Rosti and the Shakshanka with Lamb (sort of scrambled eggs & lamb). The channa puri wasnt bad either. The staff ensured that the food was continuously been re-filled. There was one thing however, that stood out ... and that was the date jam. Centro Sharjah makes their own date jam from the dates harvested in their own garden. It is 100% organic and free from chemicals. I found this to be absolutely brilliant - idea-wise and taste-wise!
We checked out of the hotel at 12 p.m. Check out was swift. I was handed over my security refund and we out of there in less than 5 minutes.
All in all, we had a fantastic stay. The staff were warm and super friendly - from the reception to the restaurant and even housekeeping. Centro Sharjah is definitely a great choice not only for travelers, but residents alike.
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Disclaimer : I was a guest of Centro Sharjah. As always, all opinions are my own.
Last August, I received a gift certificate from Eastern Mangroves Suites by Jannah during their monthly promotion. It was for a two night stay in their two bedroom suite. I availed this voucher exactly a year later. I know, I know ... it took me one year to decide. But I'm the kind of person who keeps things until the last minute ... the greatest procrastinator the world has ever known! But you know what, something good did come out of it. Last year, I didn't have a blog and this year I do. So now, I can atleast share my experience with you.
This wasn't the first time I stayed at Jannah. However, it was the first time that I would be staying for two days in a row. That meant, double the fun and double the relaxation.
Eastern Mangroves Suites by Jannah is located in the protected area of Abu Dhabi's Eastern Mangroves. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is an ideal place to have some peace and quiet and yet get in on the action. At the entrance of this luxurious hotel apartment is a lovely little fountain surrounded by numerous palm trees. Once we entered, we found ourselves right under a long, majestic chandelier and immediately headed towards the check it desk. Check in was quick and soon enough we were escorted to our room by a wonderful "Karim". Eastern Mangroves Suites by Jannah do not have bellboy, and offer a more personalized and luxurious "Karim" service. Their Karims are trained to help you out in any way that you want - from unpacking your suitcase to even arranging a candlelight dinner for you in your balcony. Even though we just had one bag, our Karim insisted that he'll help us carry it to our room.
We got a little tour of the room as well by our Karim. I was just as impressed this time as I was the last time we stayed here. Since it was a two bedroom suite, I even got my brother along to spend the weekend with us. Near the entrance was a fully equipped kitchen with an oven, fridge, cooker and dishwasher. From the kitchen, we could see the huge living room with plush sofas and a TV. The living room which was decorated in soft tones had a little balcony with garden furniture and had the most beautiful view of the mangroves.
This two bedroom apartment is ideal for families with kids. The rooms are massive. The master bedroom had a king size bed and a balcony as well as an attached bathroom. These stylish bathrooms are well equipped with all the necessary toiletries that includes bathrobes, toothbrushes, vanity kits, etc. They even had a bathtub and a rain shower. The only difference in both the bedrooms was that one of them had twin beds and it didn't have a bathtub. Both the rooms had a safe as well as a TV. So, you could just relax on your bed, watch a movie and go to sleep! In addition to the two bathrooms, there's also a little guest toilet near the entrance.
Eastern Mangroves Suites by Jannah do not have any restaurants of their own. However, they are tied up with Eastern Mangroves Promenade that offer a number of dining options. You can choose from a variety of restaurants serving Italian, Indian. American, Arabic and other cuisines of the world. Besides these restaurants, there's a supermarket too. So, you can just pick up groceries from Waitrose (the supermarket) and possibly make your own meal.
The hotel also offers a fully equipped gym and a stunning rooftop pool. We did not use the gym. However, we did visit the pool. While the guys took a nice dip, I just lay back on the sun loungers soaking in some sun. For those who prefer a bit more adventure, Jannah also organizes various water activities like donut rides, kayaking, etc. And ladies, if you're looking for some pampering, The Nail Spa and Marquee are there to take care of you.
Overall, I had a fantastic time here. I was impressed with the impeccable service, incredibly comfy beds and squeaky clean rooms. Highly recommended!
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