The airport is in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, most if the hotels are in the city. The drive from the city to the hotel is 30 mins, there are no traffic jams, but avoid hotels in Salam street, try the Sheraton near the beach. almost 8 years ago
The airport is located "off-island". The nearest hotel would be Al Raha Beach hotel, but this is outside of the city and therefore quite isolated - minimal surroundings.
Downtown Abu Dhabi is at least a 30 minute drive depending on the traffic and the route chosen.
For a hotel in the middle, I would suggest the Fairmont or Traders at Between the Bridges or you could try Aloft or the new Holiday Inn which are in a similar area.
Alternatively, head into town and look at somewhere like the Hilton - an old hotel but has a nice beach. almost 8 years ago