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Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi: The 3 BILLION Dollar Hotel?!

Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi!
Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is a sight to behold.

See one of the world’s most expensive hotels…

Prepare to be amazed as we take a visual tour of one of the most costly hotels ever built: Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which cost a whopping THREE BILLION dollars to construct. So why in the world did I put article in the “Budget Travel Secrets” category?

Domed atrium ceiling of Emirates Palace. Abu Dhabi, UAE
My view looking up at the domed ceiling from the center of Emirates Palace. Can you see how tall it is?

It’s FREE to Tour the Atrium of Emirates Palace!

Here’s why this 5-star luxury hotel still makes it into my Budget Travel category: It is absolutely FREE to walk through and photograph the astounding architecture of the hotel’s 240-foot-tall domed atrium.

If you find yourself in Abu Dhabi (or even in Dubai, which is just an hour away, and was my base during my 9-day visit to the UAE), Emirates Palace is well worth an afternoon’s visit.

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi gardens and fountains
Tranquil fountains between the hotel and the ocean.

Note: Some links here are affiliates that provide a commission upon purchase at no extra cost to you.

History of Emirates Palace Hotel

As you come with me now on this photo tour of the property, take in some of these facts. The hotel opened in 2005 after three years of construction by over 20,000 workers.

Pure gold and marble make up much of the decoration, and there’s even a gold vending machine in the lobby! (Yes, a GOLD BAR VENDING MACHINE. You read that correctly.)

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Palace Suite room
One of the immense hotel rooms I toured: The Palace Suite.

Where is the Emirates Palace Beach?

The back of the hotel looks out over the Persian Gulf. For more details about the hotel and to see its pricing (gulp!) and availability:

It has brilliantly white sand that was painstakingly imported from overseas. The private beach is almost a mile long, and features the pretty tented cabanas I photographed, below.

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi private beach
That white, white sand!

How Much Does it Cost to Stay at Emirates Palace?

There are nearly 400 hotel rooms in the building, with the most luxurious ones reserved on the top floor for royalty and dignitaries only. I got to tour the fanciest suite available to the public: the Palace Suite, which, at 7,300 square feet, boasts three bedrooms (one of which is pictured above, gold dome and all), a full dining room, pictured below, and a living room.

The suite costs around $15,000 a night! Use this fun affiliate link and click here to see current prices, though, because there’s a range across the rooms.

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Palace Suite dining room: Gold plated!
The dining room in the Palace Suite. WOW.

Crazy Emirates Palace Facts: 1,002 Chandeliers?!

Emirates palace has 114 domes, including the massive central one, 1,002 chandeliers (you can see one of them sparkling above), and 102 elevators. When Christina Aguilera performed in the hotel in 2008, 15,000 people were able to fit in the venue!

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi beach cabanas
Joyful flowers near the beach patios.

Abu Dhabi Architecture Creativity

As you can see from the view of the glistening Etihad Towers, below, that I took from the steps of Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi — and the UAE as a whole — lets its architects’ imaginations run wild. As an artist, it’s a feature of the UAE that I absolutely loved, and it’s certainly a feature on full display at Emirates Palace.

Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi from the steps of Emirates Palace hotel.
A view of central Abu Dhabi from the steps of the hotel.

Food at Emirates Palace

So what about the food, eh? Emirates Palace has 14 restaurants, and I got to eat at the one called “Le Vendome Brasserie,” a sumptuous buffet featuring cuisine from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and beyond.

Chocolate mousses in the buffet.
Chocolate mousse glasses in the buffet.

Can I Eat at Emirates Palace if I’m Not a Hotel Guest?

Yes! Speaking of budget travel secrets, some of the eateries at Emirates Palace, including Le Vendome, are surprisingly affordable. If you aren’t into paying $400-something a night for the least expensive hotel room, the restaurant is a good option for tasting the luxury life without the wallet punch.

Le Vendome Brasserie Restaurant, Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Le Vendome Brasserie Restaurant.

Gold-Plated FOOD at Emirates Palace?!

So, just how “luxury life” are the restaurants of Emirates Palace? Apparently eleven POUNDS of pure gold are used each year just to decorate the food at Emirates Palace! Some of it ended up in my tummy, as I selected a gold-encrusted mini-cheesecake for dessert… along with that chocolate mousse, of course. (For more on luxury food, check out my review of Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun.)

Mini cheesecakes with GOLD FOIL in the dessert buffet.
Mini cheesecakes with GOLD FOIL in the dessert buffet.

A Marvel of Luxury Architecture and Artistry

So, I’ve given you a whole lot of facts and figures to boggle the mind with their opulence, but what was my experience, strolling around these grounds that are luxury incarnate? The word that comes to mind is “marvel.” I was agog, marveling at the artistry and beauty of the whole enterprise.

Emirates Palace patio decorations
A bench overlooking the ocean.

The Heat of Abu Dhabi

It was very hot when visited that October, and I was five months pregnant and traveling alone, but a sweaty passion to see more and more of the gorgeous architecture pushed me to wander the grounds almost beyond the point of exhaustion, photographing everything in sight, grinning rapturously.

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi and fountain from the back
The back of the hotel. Zowie!

Islamic Architecture Around the World

I have a particular fondness for Islamic architecture, with its intricate geometric patterns and rows of arches, and have adored photographing it from the Blue Mosque in Turkey, to the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb in India, to La Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain.

Beach at Emirates Palace
Tempted to take a seat on that beautiful bench?

Intricate Details and Decorations

Architecturally, Emirates Palace has succeeded in its mission of “showcasing Arabian culture.” Look at this photo, below, of the outdoor walkway behind the hotel. The intricate details that the designers put into the walls and arches make such a difference, don’t they?

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi arches
One of the outer walkways.

3 Billion Dollars for a Hotel…

Then, of course, comes the question: Did the world need three billion dollars to be spent on constructing a hotel decorated in gold? This echoes the question I posed in my earlier article about the famously opulent mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, and I’ll give a similar answer.

Gold lobby Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
Can you believe how much gold is in this lobby?

Emirates Palace: Tourism and Art

What has been created in Emirates Palace is a work of art, and given that it is free to tour, and creates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tourism income, it can be seen as a gift to the eyes as well as the country it is in. (The government of Abu Dhabi owns the hotel.)

The front entrance.
The front entrance of Emirates Palace.

Gold-Plated Tourism Delight

As I walked out of Emirates Palace, I passed a throng of tourists, all grinning and taking photos of the awe-inspiring dome. We smiled at each other as I went by, awash in the gold glow of the place.

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Lobby Atrium
Looking down at the central lobby from four flights up. See the tiny people?

What Do YOU Think of Emirates Palace?

So what do YOU think? Have you ever been to Emirates Palace? Would you like to? Have you seen other beautiful luxury hotels around the world that are perfect for free photo tours? Do share!

Emirates Palace UAE beach
Such a pretty vista overlooking the sea.

Gorgeous Gold Atrium Love…

Allow me to leave you with one more view of that miraculous, gold-decorated central dome of Emirates Palace. That is a sight I will never forget!

See more famous world architecture and art inspiration from around the globe.

Thank you for your beauty, Emirates Palace!
Thank you for your beauty, Emirates Palace!

Hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Searching for travel that fit YOUR budget? I’ve done the search for you, use these easy affiliate links to just click here to see deals on Abu Dhabi hotels, and here for Abu Dhabi flights.

Dubai is also a great base for touring the UAE, so here is a Dubai hotel list and here are UAE flight deals. If you enjoyed this article, please consider doing your travel searching and booking through those links, as I receive a small commission to support this site, at no extra cost to you. Thanks, and happy travels!

I was a lunch guest of Emirates Palace, but all opinions, architecture awe, and gold guzzling are my own.


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Bipasha Sarkar

Monday 11th of December 2017

Nice tip, I might take a peek ;)


Saturday 1st of April 2017

Great shots.


Saturday 1st of April 2017

Thanks, Eric!


Wednesday 1st of June 2016

Really Amazing ... What an architecture , simply superb :-) The hotel simply looks like a KINGDOM, the rooms , the corridors, the outer areas... I loved the dome out there as their's a saying Such architecture "happens only in Dubai " ;-) Keep posting Cheers !!!


Monday 30th of May 2016

Stunning photography and can the universe do me a favor and take me there NOW please :D lol great read

Gina Gomez

Wednesday 18th of May 2016

I actually have nothing to say but "WOW". I wish I could afford to move in or sneak a little glance inside. What a fancy place.


Sunday 29th of May 2016

Fancy is right! :)

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