Did you know that Etihad Airways offers a fantastic stopover program? It was created in 2018 to promote the cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi and boost tourism to the UAE. The Etihad stopover program offers a free hotel stay at participating hotels for all fare classes when you book a stopover in Abu Dhabi.

I’ve tried it  — twice! And it’s a real lifesaver! A wallet-friendly solution that allows you to turn that unbearably long journey into… well a more bearable one.

Etihad stopover program for each fare class


Free second night stay at a participating hotel of your choice


One free night stay at a participating 5-star hotel of your choice


Two free nights stay at a participating 5-star hotel of your choice


Two free nights stay at the Khaleej Suite at the Luxurious Emirates Palace

The Rosewood Abu Dhabi

Etihad stopover - Rosewood Abu Dhabi by @nakslee
Rosewood Abu Dhabi

While researching all the possible flight options for my trip to East Africa, I found that the journey would be roughly 25 hours at best. Grueling! So I decided to try out the Etihad stopover program to help break up my trip.

First, I made sure my flight qualified for the stopover program. Then I booked my multi-city economy class fare seats on Etihad’s website with a two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi. Once I received my flight confirmation, I used their stopover program website to book two nights at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

The price shown will be per person per night, but you will only get charged for one night. The second night will be free since I was taking advantage of the economy class stopover program. It only cost me USD 160 for both nights, including breakfast. It’s a terrific deal for a 5-star hotel chain that I love. And to top it off, it was super simple to book!

The Rosewood Abu Dhabi is located on Al Maryah Island and connected to the famous Galleria Mall should you want to shop. As you can see from the photo, the hotel is stunning with all the amenities one could need. Yes, that’s the view from the hot tub in my room! And you bet I soaked in it! The hotel also lies along the waterfront with fantastic views from the rooms, restaurants and glamorous pool. I went for a run along the waterways the next morning, which had a great path for runners.

Upon check in I also received a 100 dirham credit voucher for their spa. Not sure if this was related to the stopover program or just given to me as a freebie. Either way, I was not going to let it go to waste. I indulged in a deep tissue massage which helped me fall blissfully asleep after a full day of touring Abu Dhabi. I did manage to explore the beautiful city of Abu Dhabi even though I secretly did not want to leave my room.

TIP: Grab a drink at the 1920’s jazz revolution inspired speakeasy at the Dragons Tooth Bar. The hidden entrance (marked by a teapot) is inside the Dai Pai Dong restaurant. Which is part of the Rosewood hotel but outside the hotel  — to add to the allure.

The Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi

Etihad Stopover - Yas Beach by @nakslee
Yas Beach

From Africa, I was heading to the Maldives, and once again the best flight options flew thru Abu Dhabi. The Etihad stopover program was so easy to use and cost efficient, that I decided to take advantage of the program — AGAIN.

After two months of camping, overlanding through Africa and hiking Kilimanjaro (post coming soon!) I was completely exhausted and knew I wanted to relax on this stopover. The possibility of me not leaving my hotel room was very high. Yes, I was heading to the Maldives, but that was a scuba diving trip.

On this stopover, I kept in mind that I wanted to rest when picking this next hotel. I also wanted to try a different hotel class and area this time. So I chose the Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, known for its beach. Again, free second-night so I only paid USD 80 for two nights, including breakfast — a steal for a 4-star hotel close to the beach.

Yas Island is about 10 minutes from the Abu Dhabi International airport for those that don’t want to stay very far from it. It’s about 30 minutes from the famous Corniche Road which is also the main city center.

This man-made island is affectionately referred to as the “leisure destination” purely for the endless activities available across the 15-mile peninsula. It’s the perfect island for families, kids, adults, and thrill seekers since there are countless ways to keep you entertained. On the island you can find Warner Bros, Ferrari World, Yas Beach, Yas Waterworld, Seawings Abu Dhabi, Yas Links Golf Course and so much more!

You certainly won’t be bored staying on Yas Island, but alas, I came for one thing. I came to relax on the beach! I did absolutely nothing all day on a beach lounger, read my book and took a nap. It was glorious and precisely what I needed before my next scuba diving adventure in the Maldives.

TIP: Get your free Yas Beach vouchers from the Radisson Blu concierge before you head out. It gets you free entrance, a towel and a lounge chair for the day. Plus there is a hotel shuttle every 30 minutes to and from Yas Beach. A great perk for those looking to relax and enjoy the beaches of the Arabian Peninsula on your stopover.

How to book your Etihad Stopover

Step 1 – Book your multi-city flight with Etihad on their website with a stopover in Abu Dhabi.

Step 2 – After getting your confirmed ticket via email, pick your hotel of choice and submit your request.

How the Etihad Stopover Program works

To partake in the Etihad stopover program, you must be flying into Abu Dhabi and continuing onto another destination on an Etihad operated flight. It is required to make your bookings before your first flight and three days before arrival. For economy class fare passengers, book your hotel for two nights and the second night is free!

The Etihad stopover program allows you to choose your hotel from a wide range of 3, 4 and 5-star hotels. From the Holiday Inn to the St. Regis. Prices are per person per night and include breakfast, service charge, tourism charge, and VAT. The daily hotel rates on their site are cheaper than you would find them on regular booking sites.

After step 2, you should hear back by email in 24 – 48 hours with confirmation from Etihad’s destination management service, Hala Abu Dhabi. Your credit card will be charged for the full amount if there is any payment due with your booking. You will also receive your voucher via email, which you must show upon check in to the hotel.

Another bonus is that the vouchers are valid for 24 hours from check-in at most hotels. So if your flight arrives at 8 pm and your next one is also an evening flight, you don’t have to check out of your hotel room at 11 am and figure out what to do for the whole day. So you can shower, be comfy, and get ready for your last long haul flight to your final destination.

NOTE: Etihad stopover programs are not valid on award flights. They are also only valid from participating specific originating cities, and final destinations so check and make sure you qualify for the stopover program before you book your airline tickets. It’s always best to read all the fine print as well.

Are you planning a long haul trip anytime soon? Try out the Etihad stopover program and let us know where you picked to stay.

Feature photo by Cameron Casey

All other photos by Young Lee @nakslee

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