Have you ever seen somebody drinking a drink out of a pineapple and look anything less than deliriously happy?
Of course you haven’t. It is one of the great universal human experiences.
Even without the pineapple, but a few slices of fruit, some ice and perhaps an umbrella or two you will see similar expressions of glee.
Put the drinker in a flowery shirt, some swimming shorts and prop them up in a swimming pool and you have a recipe for unadulterated delight.
See for yourself at these swim-up bars in Abu Dhabi.
It should come as no surprise that a hotel with swim-up villas and a kids play area with waterslides has given a lot of thought to its pool and bar. With its all-inclusive deals you won’t need to keep loose change in your Speedos. The enormous pool is one of the more ornate lagoon-style pools in the capital.
Open daily 9am-7pm (for hotel guests only. Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island (02 492 2222).
Spicy Buffalo wings and hot sauce tend to make our top lip and eyebrows sweat, but not when we're eating them sat at the counter of a swim-up bar. The pool area is compact and the hotel may cast the occasional shadow over the sunseekers below, but if you're in the Khalifa Park area it will tick all your boxes.
Open daily 9am-9pm. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Park area (02 657 3333).
Obviously there is nothing stopping you from taking a seat at one of the tables on the terrace just a few steps away from the pool, but why miss out on the chance to drink in the pool. That would be like taking a skydive and closing your eyes.
Open daily 10am-10pm. Yas Island Rotana (02 656 4000).
You read that right, this is the third Rotana hotel with a pool bar named Aquarius. While we're not handing out any prizes for originality they do score for doing the simple things well. Take the trip out to Al Ain and there is a holiday feel to this lagoon-style pool and its garden setting.
Open daily 10am-9.30pm. Al Ain Rotana (03 754 5111).
Bayshore Beach Club
The Bayshore Club at the InterContinental Abu Dhabi has a lot going for it, if you are looking for a beach pass for a day. We could tell you about the long stretch of private beach, the waterslide and the impressive menu. But, if you're like us, you won't get much further than a seat in the swim-up bar and its infinity pool views.
Open daily 9am-7pm. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street (02 697 2317).
By night there are busier options, notably the popular McGettigan's pub, but swim by in the day and this beachside spot is the place to be. We recommend you don't, but the private beach and water's edge is close enough to fling the ice cubes from your drink into the beach and see beyond. The palm trees surrounding the large pool provide plenty of ambience and pockets of shade.
Open daily 10am-2am. Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort, Channel Street (02 508 0586).
The name itself means “the breezes” and, thanks to the many palm trees that seem to sway slightly even on a calm day, you can see why. With this being Abu Dhabi's most decadent hotel it is outrageously stylish and the lagoon-style pool is large enough to sail a yacht around in and the swim-up bar is as architecturally impressive as the rest of the hotel. Very possibly one of the city’s most Instagrammable locations.
Open daily 9am-7pm. Emirates Palace, Corniche West (02 690 7999).
Nation Riviera Beach Club
There are two types of people. Those who check in to a premium beach club to use the executive fitness facilities and those who struggle to muster the energy to drag their sun lounger into the shade every couple of hours. You will see both types slurping fruity mixed drinks and eyeing the ice cream menu as they sit at the counter in this gorgeous swim-up bar.
Open daily 11am-10pm. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche West (02 694 4780).
There are those that look down on the casual dress code and kick-back nature of a pool bar and consider them lesser than a upscale lounge or chandelier-lit nightspot. Not Time Out. So if we have to flap off our flip-flops, wade into the cool pool and splash our way over to the cool pool bar and try a deliciously indulgent mocktail smoothie at the high-class Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel to redress that balance then that is a sacrifice we're willing to make. You're welcome. Oh, and cheers!
Open daily 10am-11pm. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche West (02 811 5666).
It is about as far removed from an Olympic swimming pool as you can get, this lagoon-style pool is pure holiday indulgence. You can eat a cheeseburger in your trunks while looking at a statue of a turtle and admiring the Frisbee technique of your fellow swimmers. If ever you were to try and read a trashy novel while balanced on a novelty inflatable it really should be in a pool like this.
Open daily 9am-sunset. Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Saadiyat Island (02 697 0000).
We're going to let you in on a secret. There is a certain Time Outer that has never been entirely comfortable sitting on a bar stool. Without a back to lean on there is always the slight danger you could fall back and crack your head. No such worries at a swim-up bar, which is just one of the appeals. Just another reason to admire this long-standing Corniche spot where you can find light and refreshing bites underneath the shaded canopy and palm trees.
Open 10am-8pm. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, Corniche Road (02 697 0354).
A 480-minute long happy hour four days a week (Sun-Thu) flag this spot as worthy of attention automatically. You can count the lawned poolside cabanas, generous drink selection and relatively long and palm-tree lined swimming area that looks like something from a David Hockney painting as a bonus.
Opem daily 9am-8pm. Mariott Hotel Al Forsan, Khalifa City (02 201 4131).
Sundowner Pool Bar
This would be a stand-out bar in most places in the world. It is only due to the fact that we are so blessed with watering holes here in Abu Dhabi that it is not widely heralded as a classic. While most of the seating is at a terrace and enjoying Yas Island views, there are definitely swim-up seats for sunbathers looking to find a little shade from the afternoon sun.
Open daily 10am-8pm. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 3000).
We’re just going to come out and say it, this is more of a paddle-up bar than anything else, as it is situated in the shallow end. That said we’re fans of both the view and The View. Not least for the private water’s edge cabana-style sun lounger areas and the aromatic scent of shisha that wafts across the pool at this Al Bateen spot.
Open daily 10am-7pm. Royal M Hotel, Al Bateen Marina (02 777 1171).
Picture the ideal swim-up bar and it will probably look something like this. Beach shack-style roof, Gulf-views, fresh juices and fresh salads on the menu are all present and the long drive out of the city add to the relaxing holiday-feel. Also, it is worth noting that with it having soup on the menu you could literally eat liquid, while washing it down with liquid, while sitting in liquid and looking out at the liquid expanse of the Arabian Gulf. Actually, that probably could have gone without mention.
Open daily 9am-7pm. Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort, Al Ruwais (02 801 2222).