Emirates Palace regularly hosts major dignitaries and heads of state visiting Abu Dhabi. It was operated by Kempinski from 2005 until 2020, which is when Mandarin Oriental took over. After an extensive rebranding operation, it officially launched as the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, Abu Dhabi in February this year.
Where is it?
As you make your way down Corniche Road, you’ll reach the intersection with the The Founder’s Memorial tribute to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on your right and the ADNOC headquarters to your left. A few metres further on will land you at this hotel.
What’s it like?
Double-width pillars, different shades of marble, gold leaf inlays, grand chandeliers, and plush carpets are some of the features that will catch your attention the moment you enter. There are 114 domes throughout the property. The grandest of these is the central dome just past the lobby which rises over 70 metres high and which is where the hotel’s suites are found.
The hotel is separated into two wings – Mandarin and Oriental. We stayed in the Deluxe Sea View room in the Mandarin wing which is more suited for families, while the Oriental wing is aimed at adults. There were fresh orchids in our room, and beautiful furniture including an ornate standalone bamboo cabinet that housed the minibar, a velvet sofa, and a curved marble desktop. The bathroom had a full-sized marble tub as well as a separate shower cubicle, besides being stocked with Diptyque products. There was a dedicated butler assigned to our room too who was very responsive throughout our stay.
Food and drink
There are 11 F&B concepts in the hotel. Only three restaurants in all of Abu Dhabi have a Michelin star, and two of these – Hakkasan and Talea by Antonio Guida – are found within this hotel itself. We dropped by for dinner at the elegant Talea by Antonio Guida. There was meticulous attention to detail spent on every dish that came to our table – from the bruschetta that was topped with anchovies sourced from the Cantabrian Sea to the Milanese cutlets and the tiramisu which was assembled table-side. This is a restaurant that’s truly earned its One Star. The daily buffet breakfast is served at Vendome, while you can drop by the Episodes Lobby Lounge or the pool restaurants during the day for a snack.
There are 44 meeting rooms within the property. Its events spaces include a 3,000 sqm Auditorium that can accommodate 1,100 guests (and which we’re told is being readied to eventually host high-profile theatre shows such as Cirque du Soleil) as well as a 2,183 sqm Ballroom that can seat up to 2,400 guests and is dominated by a 2.5-tonne chandelier. For outdoor events, a 3,000 sqm al fresco space can be used for large events.
There are two outdoor pools – one has a mini waterpark built into it. There’s a long stretch of private beach, 6.4km of jogging tracks, while a full-fledged spa is also being built (a temporary spa, The Hideaway, has been created on the first floor near the lobby). Those signed up for the hotel’s members’ club programme, the EP Club, have a dedicated centre for their breakfast, private check in and check out facilities, and also direct access to a stretch of beach that cannot be accessed by the other guests of the hotel.
An absolutely majestic hotel, this property spread across 222 acres truly deserves the title of a ‘palace’ in its name. With staff from various Mandarin Oriental properties globally having been brought in, the transition to MO has been smooth with similar levels of service and attention to detail that the brand is reputed for worldwide.
Best For: An ultra-luxury stay in one of the grandest hotels in the UAE
Don’t miss: A meal at the One Michelin Star restaurant Talea by Antonio Guida
Price: Internet rates for a midweek stay in June start from Dhs1,870 for a Deluxe Sea View room
Contact: West Corniche Road, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi; +971 2 690 9000; mandarinoriental.com/abu-dhabi
(Images: Supplied by Mandarin Oriental)