One Day in Abu Dhabi on Points and Miles


A recent trip to the Maldives had a 19-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi. I had been to Dubai before but not Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, this change in our flight schedule meant we missed half a day in the Maldives. Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, I got excited to spend one day in Abu Dhabi on points and miles.

First up was lodging. I wanted to spend part of the day resting. We were arriving at 6:30 in the morning and leaving at 00:55 the next day. That would have been a long day without having a home base and a place to sleep!

Screenshot flight itinerary


That is where points and miles come in. I used a free IHG certificate to book the InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi. Because we were arriving early, I contacted them and asked them if we could get an early check-in.

Screenshot letter about early checkin


We flew from London to Abu Dhabi on Etihad, which was amazing! This trip cost 60K Etihad miles and about $450 in taxes and fees. That was quite a bit in taxes and fees, but when you consider it is business class, I am fine with that. This was probably because we were flying out of London, where you can always plan on spending more on taxes and fees. I transferred these points from one of my American Express Business Platinum card signups.

I really liked flying Etihad. The seats are large and comfortable, with a wide footrest that is directly in front of you. The crew was extremely friendly and attentive, and the food was very good. I started with a shrimp salad appetizer and then had chicken and gnocchi with vegetables. Both were delicious!


Woman sitting in brown seats on airline

Etihad Business Class Seats were roomy and comfortable.


chicken and gnocchi on white plate

Etihad amenity kit – love the bag!


Delicious chicken and gnocchi on the Etihad Business flight!


Before flying out, we went to the Etihad airport lounge (of course) and ordered some food off their ala carte menu (the sticky toffee pudding was amazing).


Food on counter

Etihad Business Lounge buffet


Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi

We paid about 100 dirhams (about $25) to get to the hotel via a taxi from the airport. When we got to the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, we were thrilled to hear that our room was ready. We immediately went to sleep for about 3 hours. Our flight to Abu Dhabi from London was only 6 hours long, so we hadn’t had much sleep.


Luxury hotel lobby with chandeliers

The lobby of the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi


I booked a tour of Abu Dhabi on Viator so that we could make the most of our one day in Abu Dhabi on points/miles. We were picked up from our hotel and joined a group that traveled from Dubai for the tour. It included a visit to the Qasr Al Watan Palace, Etihad Towers, and the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, which is truly breathtaking and worth going to Abu Dhabi to see.  There really are no pictures that can do it justice.


White mosque

The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is spectacular!


2 women outside mosque in Muslim robe and scarf

To enter the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, all women must be covered with robes and scarves.


We did wish we had booked a shorter tour as they stopped for lunch (a truly horrible buffet). We would have preferred more sleep at the hotel before our Maldives flight. However, we were happy we got out and saw a bit of Abu Dhabi.

They say they have only 1% of crime and that CVC cameras patrol everything. Even the Presidential Palace is not attended by guards. The locals are very proud of their country, its architecture, and its achievements.

Once we finished our tour, we went back to the hotel, slept two more hours, and headed to the airport for our Maldives flight. The check-in for the flight to the Maldives was unbelievably easy as we went through the Etihad Business Access Area to do it. We were both shocked that we didn’t have to take out toiletries or electronics! Once past security, we headed to the Etihad Business Lounge for a few hours.


Airport lounge with green seats

Etihad Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Airport.

Bottom Line

I have to admit, when I got to Abu Dhabi after only about 3 hours of sleep on the plane, I thought, “what are we doing?” I just wanted to sleep more. However, after having rested, I am so, so happy we pushed ourselves to go out and experience one day in Abu Dhabi on points and miles. It is definitely similar to Dubai in many respects, but the visit to the Grand Mosque is worth a day in Abu Dhabi.


Related Posts

Hyatt Hotel Hopping in Abu Dhabi

Podcast #63. Abu Dhabi Awaits: Pam’s Journey in Etihad’s Luxury Apartments

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