No, it's not particularly elegant. But on the other hand, split-horizon DNS is nothing new or magical either. Nor would I classify it as "abuse". The capability has been there since the early days of BIND.
In the DNS trade, we refer to it under the category of "stupid DNS tricks"
That said, it does have some significant advantages over other techniques.
#1, It's protocol-independent. Sure you can do intelligent redirects with HTTP, but not everything in the world is HTTP
#2, Even with HTTP, in order for it to work, you have to now change the name of the server, and often the links to internal content. Your initial request to www.domain.com will now have to be redirected to hostx.domain.com or www.location.domain.com etc., and links on the pages to content servers will also have to be altered. This can be confusing to end-users, and may require additional SSL certs. It's also a code maintenance issue.
#2a, While the renaming seems trivial on first glance, it has HUGE implications for search engines, etc, since those "local" servers will get indexed instead of a generic name
#2b, It also means that a calculation will have to be made by the web server deciding where to redirect you to, then the actual redirect, increasing load and latency. DNS solutions are "pre-computed" and thus do not have similar issues.
#2c, If you solve 2a by checking every request at every location, you make 2b much worse
#3, It's simple.
#1, Third-party DNS recursive services throw it off. (There is a proposed RFC that would allow for such recursives to pass the originating network in the request)
#2, It makes DNSSEC a right royal PITA (Much more than it already is)