Aerial view of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Philip Lange/age fotostock
Some experienced travelers would never consider a hotel a “sight,” but Emirates Palace is a full-blown spectacle. A world onto itself, this luxurious spot opened in 2006 to the tune of roughly $6 billion with every conceivable amenity—plus a few you never knew you needed. There’s a beach club with a lazy river, football fields, and nearly four miles of jogging paths; a golf course where you can get tips from a PGA pro; a Bedouin tent for relaxing before a beachfront camel ride; and a luxury spa complete with Moroccan hammam. Marble and gold embellish surfaces everywhere on the property, including in the magnificent tiled dome above the lobby. Whether or not you feel like shelling out serious dough to say you stayed here, you won’t regret a stroll in the lobby for curiosity’s sake.
The Palace Hotel
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a prince or princess, a walk across these marble floors listening to live music on piano or harp at the Emirates Palace Hotel will make you feel quite regal. A jewel of the United Arab Emirates, the Kempinski-operated hotel is the nearest experience to living like royalty that anyone might have. Host to foreign delegations, including heads of state, the Palace is as luxurious as you can imagine, with 114 domes—the largest artfully designed and coated with gold. Marble, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and gold cover much of the palace. Guests can even eat and drink gold leaf in their cappuccinos and sweet potato fries! A $3 billion architectural achievement, Emirates Palace has hosted musical events and appeared in a movie, The Fast and Furious 7.
Spires In The Mist
Skyscrapers under construction in the early morning fog of the Arabian Gulf as seen from the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Extravagant Le Café
A bit hesitant to try a precious metal in my coffee, I was pleasantly surprised that my Palace Cappuccino tasted quite nice—except, my lips were tastefully coated in a fine layer of gold leaf after I took my first sip. Surrounded in warm colors, cozy furniture, and palatial elegance, Le Café at Emirates Palace Hotel serves guests in an open venue where it is easy to take in the glamorous palace interiors. The cafe serves a variety of extravagant food, of which, many include gold leaf sprinkles. Other popular treats include the signature Emirates Palace Camel Burger with a golden (literally) bun, a gold dusted chickpea fritters, camelccino, and variety of caviar. Guests are free to walk in for service, though reservations are encouraged for their afternoon high tea between 2 - 6 pm each day.
High Tea at Emirates Palace
High tea at the Palace is not to be missed, if only because going for tea allows you to explore the hotel’s ornate lobby—don’t overlook the ATM that dispenses gold. In fact, gold is a motif here: The “signature cappuccino” served at tea is decorated with edible gold sprinkles.