You know the saying “not all that glitters is gold”? This may be true outside of Emirates Palace where everything that glitters is most likely gold, 24 carat gold to be exact. Contrary to urban legend though, the gold only covers the ceilings here, not the entire hotel, but still enough to make a strong statement of opulence and royalty.
Originally designed to accommodate visiting high-level visitors and heads of state, the Emirates Palace has 394 luxurious rooms and suites and is located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and only 40 minutes from its airport. It is also home to a 1.3 km beach, landscaped pools, a lazy river, and a private marina.
The Emirates Palace is managed by Kempinski, a member of the DISCOVERY Loyalty programme, which I highly recommend joining for free as it offers you discounts and other perks at 35 independent luxury brands, including Kempinski, in 76 countries.
Upon arrival at the hotel, you will immediately notice the fancy Rolls Royces, BMWs, and Lamborghinis parked at the entrance, which will give you a sign of the luxury to come. After a quick check in, we proceeded to our room in the East Wing. The hotel is made up of two wings with a massive “lobby” that separates them, and after walking around the lobby area, you’d probably want to spend more time there than the room.
The rooms are opulent but not overbearing; and they blend splendidly between traditional Arab and modern aspects. The bed is incredibly comfortable, but the pillows could use some more firmness. The bathroom is simply gorgeous with his and hers amenities, and beautiful marble plastered everywhere. Our room had a nice sea view although it was too hot to properly enjoy it.
Emirates Palace takes its food seriously with more than 10 award winning dining options and cuisines that range between seafood and traditional Emirati food. Among the quirky bucket list items you can try here are the famous Palace Cappuccino adorned with edible gold and the camel milk-infused Camelccino. Like everything else at Emirates Palace, breakfast is a royal affair with several live cooking stations and most probably the largest variety of croissants you have ever seen. I also liked the creativity in the fresh juices they served as well as the eggs benedict that are prepared on order.
As a member of the DISCOVERY Loyalty programme, I was entitled to two Platinum experiences and I opted for the Royal Tour and a spa treatment. The Royal Tour turned out to be one of the best Local Experiences that I’ve had as it takes you behind the scenes at the Emirates Palace to where the members of the royal family and their VIP guests stay when visiting the hotel. Needless to say, what you see on this tour will likely make you feel sad about your life!
As for the spa, while I really enjoyed the treatment itself, the setting/ambience inside the spa itself was a bit of a letdown when compared to the rest of the hotel — it felt like it was a repurposed guest room and there was no steam room or sauna or lounge to relax after the treatment. I didn’t ask, but it may have been a temporary location. If you do not really care much about the ambience and setting, then you would probably enjoy the treatment.
One last thing I enjoyed at the hotel was the lazy river located by one of the two swimming pools the hotel has. Lunch served at the pool was pretty delicious and the staff are kind enough to check up on you every once in a while with cold scented towels and popsicles.
Some interesting trivia about Emirates Palace just to give you an idea how opulent and huge it is:
- It cost a whopping $3 billion to build
- It has a total area of 850,000 square meters in floor space compared to 77,000 square meters at Buckingham Palace
- It’s home to 8,000 palms and other trees, 100 water fountains, a 6.4km jogging track, and underground parking for 2,500 cars
- 5 kilograms of gold are used by the hotel each year on food and drinks