The United Arab Emirates epitomises luxury in many ways; the tallest building in the world, the world's only seven star hotel, shopping centres with oversized aquariums and ice skating rinks, an indoor ski field in a shopping centre and, of course, some of the best shopping in the world.
So it is no surprise when visiting the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, that the coffee comes sprinkled with flakes of 24-Carat gold.
Palatial grandeur is evident from afar. Upon entering rolling green grounds and colourful gardens, the Palace Hotel emerges as a majestic structure atop the hill. The palace entrance is a myriad of cascading water features and fountains that entice the visitor to the grand entrance.
While the Emirates Palace is not a literal royal palace, it is indeed palatial.
Upon entering the hotel, opulence is the theme - with oversized floral arrangements, antique styled furniture, extensive use of granite and marble and old-world class with a mix of gold and neutral hues. The hotel staff are attentive and greet everyone with a smile and a hushed greeting, so as not to disturb the ambience.
Once you pass through the lofty atrium area to the café, you are greeted with the melodic tones of a traditional three-piece band playing classical Arabic music.
Of course, any dining experience here is going to be expensive- what do you expect for 24K gold flake cappuccinos? They sell at about USD$15. But you are not just paying for the coffee, it's the indulgent experience.
My golden cappuccino was accompanied by a 24K gold flake strawberry tart. Both were exquisite and I felt much richer for the experience.
Feeling like royalty, I meandered through the lofty granite lined halls, admiring the crystal chandeliers. From the floor to ceiling windows, I admired the decadent views of the lush green grounds, landscaped swimming pools and manicured private beaches. They are all part of the Emirates Palace experience.
Leaving the Palace, I sighed, as I felt a jolt back into reality. As I shed my short-lived brush with royalty, I could only console myself with the knowledge that I was a little richer from the experience and there was a hint of 24-Carat gold within my digestive system.
If you ever find yourself visiting the UAE, this is definitely an experience not to be missed.