My wife and I stayed at the Emirates Palace for 8 nights which included half board. Our transfer from the airport was arranged by our travel agency (RTC Consulting), and this went without any problems.
On arrival at the hotel, we were warmly welcomed and checked in immediately (although we had to wait for our room for more than an hour, which is disappointing for a luxury hotel). Eventually, we ware taken to our Coral room, which had a connecting door to the neighbouring room, which of course had a loud neighbour. Upon complaining about this, we were moved (and upgraded) to a Pearl room. The difference between the Coral, Pearl and Diamond rooms is simply the view, and the rooms are all the same size. If your not fussed by a view, stick to Coral.
The room was lovely, spacious, with large TV and DVD player, which are all controlled by one touch screen remote, which also controls the lighting. The mini bar has complimentary soft drinks - coke, sprite etc and there is plenty of water in the room. All rooms have a butler service, which is „nice to have“ but a bit over the top for us. The cleaning personnel was excellent, and the room was always cleaned from top to bottom, however at inconsistent times (which was quite annoying coming up to your room and having to wait for half an hour before being able to enter, again not OK for a luxury hotel).
In other reviews, people state that you have to do a lot of walking to get places. Also previous reviews state security are annoying, but we did not find this the case. We found the same members of staff in the same places and they recognise you so don't bug you requesting to see your room key etc. They are also very pleasant and happy to have a chat. We think it´s more a German issue, being unconfortable to be friendly to everyone ;). Relatively unusual was the butler service, actually being someone who would do everything for you, and kept reminding you of that. Hard to get used too …
The pool and beach areas of this hotel are quite nice. There are 2 large pools, one an adventure pool with lazy river, and the other an 'adult' only pool, with hammocks in the pool and a pool bar (very expensive). There is also a very large private beach which is lovely and there also are some camels which are available for a free ride.
Now, onto the food. As we were staying half board, we could dine at the buffet restaurant (Le Vendome). We dined here for dinner and breakfast. Overall the quality of food is good, but found the food lacked variety and was a lot of repitition, also offering food from yesterday as a salad etc. We got quite bored of dining at this restaurant as the holiday went on. It definitely lacks live cooking stations for dinner. No drinks were included in the evening, so it was expensive to get water etc. Breakfast also lacked variety and by the end of the trip, we were very bored of the breakfast as it changes very little day to day. They were very good at making sure you had plenty of coffee and juice
In comparison to other hotels that I have stayed at Half Board, the Emirates has a very poor selection of restarants to dine at with only the buffet restaurant for choice.
All in all, a very good 5 star hotel with excellent service, amazing pool and beach, but is let down by the half board/dining. Have had an equally good stay at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, which also had excellent half board buffet food. So yes, a place to stay at, but no, not an exceptional place to stay at…
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