Angel was hoping to get away to a nearby exotic destination like Nepal or Kerala during Eid Al Adha holiday. I just wanted to escape the city’s rush at that time to relax at a beautiful place, without enduring the weariness of air travel. I successfully sold him a luxury staycation at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi and promised that it was going to be just as refreshing.
I have frequented the palace more times than I’d care to count over the years, mostly to do business and show visitors from overseas around. I have even stayed there on the side of organizing events a couple of times, but never long enough to take full advantage of my extravagant accommodation. This time we planned to treat ourselves to various forms of r&r at the most expensive hotel ever built in the region, and one of my favorite landmarks in the capital.
It took a bit too long to check us in (over an hour) due to the hotel being fully occupied for the holidays, but finally it sounded like we were well on our way to have the perfect Eid break when we got upgraded to a fabulous Khaleej Suite with a wonderful view of the palace’s private beach.
Our lavishly decorated chamber was tastefully furnished in calming shades of cream and gold. It had a comfortable layout consisting of a separate living and dining area, a guest toilet (not that we expected any guests), a big working desk prepped with a laptop, a large in suite toilet and connecting dressing room, and an airy terrace where I spent hours reading and sipping tea in the evenings.
My favorite feature was the room comfort menu, including a 24 hours butler service that I utilized responsibly. I just loved making those calls to request for my evening bath to be ready after dinner time.
The service was immaculate and the hospitality was welcomingly overwhelming. We often found personalized messages upon returning to the room, and yummy gifts kept coming. My only take is on the security process at the main entrance, they might want to take it down a notch, as I didn’t like being asked to show my room key each time I walked in by a bulky bouncer!
I had a list of gastronomic missions to accomplish there; mainly I intended to eat as much gold as possible, the palace’s signature culinary twist. The Palace Cappuccino that I had at Caviar Bar had a face half covered in real flakes of 24 carats gold, the only safe enough kind to consume. Sparkling gold sheets and powders were dusted on most pastries and deserts we ate; soon I realized that this was simply one of the palace’s unique approaches to further glamorize its guest’s experiences, including what goes into their mouths.
It wasn’t easy picking two or three from the 14+ excellent dining options at the palace. Our time was limited, so we chose authentic and lip-smacking over popular. We sampled Emirati dishes at Mezlai, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while, not because I am not familiar with Emirati cuisine, but to find out if it was as good as everyone claims.
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of nasty attempts at “Machboos” that I’ve suffered in the past, most didn’t even come close to the real deal, so imagine my thrill at finally discovering a high-end Emirati restaurant that matches my expectations. The “Chicken Margoogah” almost had me in tears of joy! This was by far the best Emirati food that I have ever eaten in a restaurant…
We also enjoyed a delicious and chic dinner at my favourite Chinese restaurant in the UAE, Hakkasan. Their “Crispy duck salad” and “Jasmine tea smoked Wagyu beef ribs” always gets me. The elaborate breakfast at Le Vendome was served at both the restaurant’s halls in the East and West wings. We always ate at the terrace to enjoy the energizing sea breeze with our morning meal.
Getting bored wasn’t an option at the palace, when we were not eating or relaxing at our inviting room, we were either paddle boarding or riding camels at the beach, learning to sail at sea, hanging out at the swim-up bar in the relaxation pool or buying gold from a vending machine at the lobby.
In the evening we took calming walks along the beautiful 1.3km exclusive beach, and watched the sun turn the shore into a flamboyant spread of golden sand and water, as it dipped into the distant horizon.
What’s a palace without a palace garden? Over 6 kilometers of private jogging tracks surround the property, cutting through 85 hectors of green space. We walked the East wing, but didn’t want to do the whole route on foot. We borrowed bicycles from the cycle hire concierge to explore the rest of the track and the marina front.
You think you know a place so well until you take a closer look and its true character surprises you one way or another. We can’t wait for our next 7 star luxury stay at the place, for this time we were most pleasantly surprised.
Have you stayed at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi before? How was your experience?