Exploring Abu Dhabi: A Cup of Gold Coffee, Dear?

The first time I drove past Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi I assumed that it was the Royal Palace, but No! It is just a hotel.

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View from Etihad Towers
The Facts:

The hotel is designed by John Elliot and it opened in 2005. There are 394 residences: 302 rooms and 92 suites. There are a number of bars and restaurants, shops featuring both Arabian and European design, and just having a wander around the hotel to look at the decor is worthwhile a visit – lots and lots of silver, gold, marble and glass mosaics and areas so big that it is hard to get your head around the grandness of this place. In short, it showcases Arabian culture at its most spectacular.

The hotel, no, let’s call it the Palace, is set in 1,000 hectares of landscaped parkland, there is a 1.3km-long beach, two swimming pools and underground parking for 2,500 cars and an excellent valet service of course.

It is categorised as a 5 star hotel but 5 stars are hardly adequate to describe this impressive place.

For more information about the Palace and it facilities have a look at their website: Emirates Palace

The Experience:

img_3627The Palace is located on the Corniche, just past ADNOC (the white building) and opposite Etihad Towers. First you will see the VIP entrance and just after you come to the ‘official’ entrance.

Getting in can prove to be a bit of a challenge – there is a strict dresscode which you will have to abide to when arriving on foot. I have the impression that if you arrive in a car the guards are not quite as strict, but you will still have to dress at least casual smart. We had to go back and change into long trousers (men in shorts are not allowed in, and my friend even had to roll down trouser legs which ended 5cm above his ankles).

Anyway, when we finally managed to get into the proper attire and walked through the gate we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Palace. A huge, and very green lawn (which must be quite the challenge in this climate) to one side and a large open space leading up to the stairs and the main entrance. Take your time walking up the stairs, there is plenty to look at; fountains, palms trees – well, no matter where you look there is some little detail that catches your eye. And don’t forget to turn around on the stairs to have a look at the view across the street to Etihad Towers and Bab Al Qasr.

If you arrive by car, follow the road, then turn left and follow the signs to the car park. From there it is possible to take a lift to the main entrance.

There will be plenty of staff to great you by the door to the hotel even if you are not a staying guest. Once you are inside, look  up, down and everywhere … and try not to get too overwhelmed. It is grand, it is huge, it is a fairytale, and it is very easy to get lost in all the gold covered halls, reception rooms, corridors and restaurants. In the atrium, which will make you feel dwarfed, do remember to look up to enjoy the ceiling.

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The palace is also where you can buy yourself a cup of gold coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but according to my friend, it is a very good cup of coffee, and it most certainly looked the part. We all tried a bit of the gold leaf decorating the coffee just to be able to say that we have eaten gold. Probably won’t get many chances to this otherwise.  Traditional English High Tea is also available, but I settled with a plain cup of tea, and enjoyed it while listening to the live piano player.

Once you have refreshed yourself with the coffee make your way downstairs and have a look at the impressive tapestry depicting, well, Emirates Palace, of course. You won’t be able to access the beach, it is only for guests or members of the beach club, but there is still lots to see downstairs so I definitely recommend that you have a wander.

You can take photos in most of the building, there will be signs indicating if photography is not allowed. Fridays and Saturdays can get rather busy so I would recommend to visit during the week. If you have a reservation at one of the restaurants simply say so at the gate, otherwise just tell them that you’re there to have a look around.

Rumour has it that there is a gold vending machine “Gold to Go” at the Palace, but so far I have not been able to find it, so I suspect it has been removed. Next time I visit I will have to ask – if it is still there, is will definitely be a ‘only in the UAE’.img_3381

Even though I have been there a few times now there is still lots more to see and I most certainly want to try out the restaurants. So far I have only been to Hakkasan (the stir-fry mixed nut lettuce wrap was divine), and I can only recommend having dinner there.

I would also like to go for a walk on the beach, which looks absolutely beautiful. You can get a good view of the beach and the back of the hotel from the road to Marina. And I guess to see a room, I will have to stay there as a guest … maybe I should start saving now to get the full experience.

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