It took an estimated $3 billion and 20,000 workers three years to build Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel, which opened in 2005. With gold-leafed ceilings, a portico paved with inlaid marble and 1,002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers—well, it’s easy to see what spare change from oil reserves can buy.
And apparently the lingering recession isn’t keeping people away—the hotel is at 75 percent capacity off-season and at 100 percent during holidays, according to our guide.
The hotel regularly plays host to world leaders, such as Tony Blair, who eschews the toniest suites for something that qualifies as merely luxe, our guide revealed, and pop stars, such as Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. The top level is reserved for invitees of the sheik. Asked where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would stay, our guide said, “If she were invited, she could stay on the top floor.” Otherwise, she might have to settle for the Diamond Suite, which looks like something out of a 1940s Hollywood movie and runs just 25,000 dirhams, or $6,800, per night.
For those whose cash reserves are rather more limited, the hotel introduced another option in May : 1-, 5- and 10-gram 24-karat gold bars dispensed from an ATM. They start at around $47.—Renée Olson, Editor, Drew Magazine