Review: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
The magnificence of the Emirates Palace impacts on you even before you’ve left your chauffeured vehicle. Its size and scale is enormous and it retains a majestic and regal air. It makes sense to hear that this was originally built for UAE royalty and subsequently adapted to what many refer to as ‘one of the finest hotels in the world’.
I checked in to the Coral room with views of green, landscaped gardens and the city skyline. The other choices were the Pearl, which offered views of the gardens, pool and beach or the Diamond which looked out over the Arabian sea. Spoilt for choice already. The selection of suites accommodated the bigger players from CEOs to Heads of State. Global brand superstar, David Beckham occupied one of them during my stay.
Room service and attention to the minutest of detail was exceptional and staff immediately put you at ease to let you enjoy the wealth of activity on offer. In this respect it is reminiscent of the Yas Viceroy – it’s more contemporary rival across the city, that bestrides the spectacle and theatre of the Abu Dhabi F1 circuit.
On hearing of their culinary reputation (it has a Hakkasan), I headed down to Le Vendome and was confronted by what was casually termed an ‘International Buffet’ menu. My suggestion here would be to order the Middle-Eastern dishes. I had combinations of the tangiest houmus, fresh vegetable, dates and lamb mixed with fragrant rice with a chilled french white being the perfect accompaniment. The magical Middle-Eastern booth settings effused a gentle, intimacy.
Anantara Spa was my next destination. There’s a curious walk around the side of the hotel to find it but once you’re there you tend to forget the last 24 hours pretty quickly. I opted for the ‘Traditional Thai massage’. It was 60 minutes of pure relaxation ending with a floral foot ritual. Every step after that had a lightness and freedom you’d wish you could replicate forever. Others endorsed the detox option of the ‘Purifying Dead Sea Mineral Treatment’.
The highlight of the trip was dining at Mezzaluna. It is literally a culinary journey across Italy. Seafood starters included Alaskan King crab and avocado and also the delightfully subtle chickpea cream, rosemary, truffled veal jus. Pastas range from the truly fabulous lasagne of hand cut Wagyu beef, creamy béchamel and parmesan cheese to the spaghetti with Veraci clams, semi dried tomato and bottarga. The chef insisted on also serving baked lamb loin in olive and bread crust, mashed potatoes, green beans and thyme lamb jus. Amazing.
To finish, the Panna Cotta with caramelised hazelnut cream with rosemary apricots. Walking around the vastness of the Emirates Palace helped recharge the battery after such a fantastic culinary experience.
You can either marvel at the magnitude of this place or feel lost in it. There are an enormous amount of things to do, from beach activity to a diverse programme of opera, theatre and arts, a myriad of bars and top eateries, shops and sporting facilities. The football pitch alone is FIFA approved and Barcelona have already trained on it! So boredom is just not an option.
If you’re here for business, there is no better place to meet and entertain clients near the centre of Abu Dhabi. Choose from 42 wired-up conference and meeting rooms. Just how ambitious do you want to be?