My wife booked a night at The Emirates Palace as a treat for my 40th birthday. Sadly, of the lovely hotel I've been fortunate to stay in, Emirates Palace disappointed most.
Overall, we were very disappointed in the experience and won't be recommending it; Etihad Towers, the Rosewood, Yas Viceroy and the Ritz Carlton all offer what we would consider to be a much better, more sophisticated, polished and elegant service. We stumbled from one bad customer experience to the next, with multiple organisational issues confounding matters along the way.
The décor reminded us of a giant, empty 'Vegas casino or a glitzy airport terminal, compounded by the highly present, aloof and totally unnecessary security presence. Crime in this region is simply non-existent - there's no need for such an ostentatious show of force - although perhaps that's just the point.
The Emirates Palace is hence, in our eyes, outclassed by at least four five-star hotels in Abu Dhabi - disappointing for a hotel that seems to try to market itself as a class leader. Other (particularly Chinese and Russian) guests seemed to love it so perhaps we're missing the point.
Incidentally, if you want to understand the minutiae of our issues, see below (copied from our feedback to the hotel). To give them credit, we received a phone call from the General Manager apologising and, had we asked, I'm sure we'd have been compensated - but that would be to miss the point. This place sets itself up as something special but it's really just something big and gilded. But special? Not for us.
Sadly, I think this is a case demonstrating that 'more' does not always equate to 'better'.
1. Our room was not ready on check in - we were offered no explanation, but simply told to walk around the hotel till it was ready. When we inquired how long it would take, we were told 45 minutes. The receptionist did suggest we could use the pool but, as we were not dressed for the beach, this was impossible without access to our room. We left the desk and went and bought a coffee.
2. When we returned an hour later, we were told our room was still not ready. When we pressed for an explanation, we were told the safe was locked and housekeeping were on their way to open it. We waited another ten minutes to be told the safe was now open but there were documents in it and we had to wait for security to empty these before we could get access to our room. At this point (over an hour after arriving) we were offered a complimentary coffee. Having just purchased one ourselves, we declined and simply asked for another room. We were pleased to be offered a complimentary upgrade to a suite, and headed upstairs.
3. The suite was very nice but had a number of issues. The safe could not be closed, the main TV made a loud buzzing noise, the sound from the TV (delivered through in-ceiling speakers) was poor, the AV CPU in the master bedroom was missing its cover, exposing the inside cables, power supply etc (a severe safety hazard if we'd had children with us). My wife also informs me that the hairdryer was very poor, and we were disappointed that there was no iPod dock or similar. Also, the lighting was very annoying - the smart lighting controls were slow to react, it was too easy to turn the lights in the bedroom on full when we just wanted to turn on a sidelight at night, and turning off the lights in the bathroom caused the bedroom lights to come on - annoying when it woke my wife up when I popped to the bathroom in the night.
4. My wife ordered a celebration package. The wine, banner and cake arrived but, unknown to me, my wife was also told to expect a bouquet of flowers - nothing arrived. When checking out the next day, my wife enquired as to the flowers and the receptionist confirmed they were supposed to be part of the package but then added that the reason we didn't get them was 'possibly because I'm a man'. No apology was offered, no offer to refund (part) of the cost of the package, nor an offer to forward them on to our home in Abu Dhabi.
5. The hotel could better sign restaurants etc - trying to find Hakkasan was difficult with various signs pointing to various unnamed restaurants.
6. The lack of an indoor pool seems surprising, given the size of the complex and the issues surrounding using the outside space due to the high temperatures in the summer months. We were also somewhat confused by the contradictory guidance that we could use either the East or West Pool which, to get to, we were told to take the lift to the fourth floor and then walk via the lobby area, compared to the instruction not to walk through the communal lobby area in swimwear or beach attire. Are we expected to take beachwear with us and change at the pool / beach? If so, no instructions or guidance were given and, in any event, this would seem very strange.
7. Breakfast was disappointing. We were left waiting for 15 minutes for my omelette whilst my wife’s breakfast (Eggs Benedict) arrived twice – the first serving of which was cold and had evidently been left standing for quite some time.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Emirates Palace
- Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
- Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi