Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

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Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the most expensive hotel ever built, recently raised its portcullis. Costing an estimated $2 billion to build, the Emirates Palace is wall-to-wall gold leaf and touch-screen everything, with not a camel in sight.

The centre of the palace is dominated by a jaw-dropping grand atrium 60-metres high, 42-metres wide and topped with one of the largest domes in the world. The dome is decorated with 13 colours of marble, ranging from sunrise yellow to sunset red (to reflect the many hues of the desert), and 6,040 square metres of gold leaf cover. In fact there’s so much gold leaf on the walls and ceilings that apparently a whole year’s supply of South African gold production from was exhausted.

The public lounge, the Al Majlis, is 175 metres long — that’s almost two football pitches. In total it’s a two-and-a-half kilometre walk to circumnavigate the hotel, which probably accounts for the fact that staff need golf carts to negotiate their way around for fear of a coronary while dropping off ‘fresh towels’.

And the $64,000 question: how much does a room cost? Not far off actually… a single lead-in room costs $16,400 per night, plus a 20 percent service charge. So it’s no surprise that this writer didn’t manage an all expenses paid trip to review this eighth wonder of the world. Now how much was a room at Dubbo’s Country Comfort…? — CS

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