The Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi it’s a must for those visiting Abu Dhabi – You may think its a tourist trap or something that you shouldn’t bother visiting – But believe me it is far from a tourist trap and its an iconic place to visit. Though we all have our ways of traveling and we tend to visit what calls our attention. Emirates Palace is a place that I wanted to visit though mostly I was geared to having lunch there and experience some of their signature items on the menu. Visiting the Palace is a total mission and taking photos as well as security and ground staff are very lenient about making sure the rules are being followed and making sure the guest and the visitor aren’t breaking them. As I mentioned on a previews blog, don’t break the rules in the UAE – simply follow them, as they don’t mess around there.
Arriving at the Emirates Palace
Prior to visiting the Emirates Palace you are required to have a code, this code will grant you access into the property and will be able to present this at the restaurant. Many people go simply to spend the afternoon there during their “tea time.” That also requires an invite approval code from the staff there just so they know you are coming and to avoid any problems. Those who are able to dine in, have coffee and experience tea time are either guest staying at the hotel or people who have invites have been accepted to visit the Palace. If you are wanting to arrange this, normally the concierge service at your hotel will be able to accommodate this. Be specific with them on what you want to do at the Palace, either lunch, coffee or tea time. I strictly wanted lunch so I was able to visit one of the restaurant within the property and enjoy a signature item on the menu.
The grounds of the Palace were simply beautiful and out of this World. Being on the fountain area of the property allowed me to get a great shot of the front of the palace and the view of the Etihad Towers facing the Palace was even better. There wasn’t much or any other places I could visit within the property due to security and not being a guest. But what I saw was mind blowing and one of a kind.
Stairs towards the Palace
The Etihad Towers from the Emirates Palace
The Etihad Towers is another popular landmark in Abu Dhabi and on another blog post I will share my thoughts on it and I must say, you can get a breathtaking view from the towers when you are on the highest floor of the property. As a guest in the palace you are free to walk round the grounds, take photos and enjoy the surroundings. There is security around since the main entrance to the palace is right in front. I enjoyed exploring the grounds of it and being able to capture some great photography.
Shortly after walking around the lower level, I walked the stairs to head into the property. The main Palace building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing, and its gardens and surroundings spread across 100 hectares.
Time for lunch at the Palace
Once inside, I was beyond impressed on this property – The hotel features 114 domes, with the central dome at an imposing 72.6 metres above ground. Gold, mother of pearl and crystals dominate the interior. The Palace has 1,002 chandeliers, the largest weighing 2.5 tonnes. Out of respect to those around me and for regulations, I didn’t take any photos of the property when arriving as security was highly enforced and I just wanted to enjoy the moment of visiting such an iconic place.
I had my invitation in hand and looked for a staff member that will direct me to where I was going to have lunch at. She was friendly and attentive. Within a few minutes I was directed to one of the restaurants located in the heart of the hotel and I was given my place to sit down and relax. One word comes to mind “Bling Bling” a lot of Gold and the installations were out of this world.
After waiting for quite some time I finally got the menu to see what they offer. I could already tell that the service wasn’t going to be impressive due to how long they took to bring me a menu. I was not welcomed by any of the waiters, the gentleman in charge of my section came around, dropped a menu off and went his way – very poor and indifferent service from the start. Talk about poor service and first impression experience, I went on and started to read the menu. The menu offered signature coffee, drinks, appetizers and main courses. Since I was coming in for lunch I was looking strictly for a main course dish, before ordering – the waiter came around and asked me if I wanted anything to drink and I just requested a bottle of water since I didn’t want alcohol, juice or coffee.
Acqua Pana for my drink of choice.
For lunch I decided to have one of their signature items on the menu which is the camel meat burger sprinkled with 24 karats of Gold. At the time, I was craving a burger and it was also my first time trying camel meat. The locals recommended me to try it so I was in for a treat. I didn’t know what to expect from it but knowing how popular this dish was, I wanted to have it at the palace knowing that the quality, presentation and taste was going to be top notch.
Camel Meat Burger – Emirates Palace
Here is a close up where you can see the gold sprinkled on the meat and on the bun of the burger as well.
So you may be wondering, how was the burger and how was trying camel meat? I can honestly say it was one of the best burgers I have ever had. Camel meat burger has a unique taste and something I can’t really describe or put into words. The meat was tender, perfectly cooked. Don’t be alarmed, it has the tendency to be pretty red but its part of it and camel meat burger is known to be that way. The burger came with french fries and they were also, very very good unlike any other french fries I have ever had. The burger had a special sauce, with a bit of mayo, tomatoes and lettuce. The bun of the burger was also, very good and so fresh. Talking about it makes my mouth water and I would highly recommend trying this dish if you happen to visit the palace. The gold was tasteless incase you were wondering ;).
How was the service while I was eating? The service while I was eating was poor, not once the waiter came around to ask how everything is going and if I needed anything else. From the start I could tell that the staff isn’t properly trained and the hotel managers should focus on training their staff much better. They all seemed indifferent and careless to help and attend the guest.
Price breakdown: Being that it was one of their signature items, I believe it was reasonable priced specially with what you get in it, real gold. If you were to have this in America or somewhere else around the world we would be looking at a couple hundreds of dollars for a single burger. Being that it was my first time in Abu Dhabi, first time at the Palace and last but not least, first time trying camel meat burger sprinkled with gold I decided to splurge and have fun. Do I think it could be priced cheaper? I think so and do I think the service charge fee for the water and dish should be removed? Absolutely, that would reduce the cost of the bill to be less than it was.
- Camel Burger – AED 110.oo ($29.94)
- 1 Acqua Pana – AED 24.00 ($6.53)
Sub Total = AED 134.00
- Include all the service charge fees.
Total of = AED 155.44 ($42.31).
Emirates Palace bottom line
My experience at the Palace was ok – The service at lunch was chaotic and not impressive at all. Walking around the property was intimating as the amount of security in it made the experience rather tense. I wasn’t sure what to do and I was also afraid to take more pictures because of how lenient the staff was. I was limited to see a lot of the property because I wasn’t a guest so I am was only able to get a sneak peak of the lobby, ground floor and cafe where I ate. You can walk around the lobby and thats about it so Its not that special. The highlight of my visit was my meal because I truly enjoyed every bite of it. Would I come back to this place? Definitely not. Do I recommend others to visit? Yes, its an iconic landmark so I would suggest you visit it – just keep in mind there isn’t much to see or do due to the restriction for visitors who aren’t guest of the hotel. I am glad I was able to visit and see what this place is about but beyond that, I will not be returning here at all.
If you are interested on reading the rest of my adventures in Abu Dhabi, check them out below.
If you have visited the Palace before, how was your experience?