The UAE's most outrageous hotel suites
If good things come in small packages, the UAE's hoteliers didn't get the memo.
Fierce competition between the country's luxury hotels constantly raises the stakes when it comes to extreme guest amenities.
If one palatial establishment is offering real-snow panoramas -- in the desert -- another is touting a swimming pool in your boudoir or a room suspended between two towers.
With these ultra-indulgent accommodation offerings, seeing is believing.
Otherwise, they seem frankly unbelievable.
Underwater Suite, Atlantis the Palm, Dubai
Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Kylie has strutted into this hotel of theme park proportions.
The most ostentatious thing about it?
Tricky question, but it’s probably the Underwater Suite, whose three floors are separated by floor-to-ceiling windows from an almighty aquarium that’s home to 65,000 sea creatures.
Sharks and stingrays are companions as you take in the action from the bedroom or bathtub.
Does the 24/7 butler also dole out the fish food? Just ask.
Atlantis the Palm, Dubai, Crescent Road, The Palm; +971 4 426 0000; 45,000 dirham ($12,253) per night
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Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab, Dubai
A four-poster bed -- that proud calling card of every provincial hotel since probably time immemorial.
The Burj Al Arab, Dubai has a four-poster rotating bed.
It’s the focal point of the Royal Suite, a space that could be accused of confusing “glamour” with “garish.”
Unadulterated Arabic glitz doesn’t get any glitzier than this.
A marble and gold staircase leads you up to the red-and-gold space occupying the sail-shaped hotel’s entire 25th floor.
When you’re not playing on the spinning bed, there’s a private cinema.
Elsewhere, a private staff entrance gives you an idea of the extent of hired help at your beck and call.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, Dubai; +971 4 301 7777; 23,000 dirham ($6,262) per night
Royal Suite, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
At 2,100 square meters, this St. Regis's Royal Suite is the biggest in the UAE (not to mention one of the largest on the planet), taking up two floors of the hotel’s west wing.
The decorating style is one of toned-down colors with stone and driftwood details, no doubt inspired by the beach beyond.
Inevitably, the Emirate’s signature excess creeps in: there's a spiral staircase and water feature, outdoor pool, cinema, game room, ocean-facing terrace (plus bar) and spa room and sauna. Well, there's room for it …
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi; +971 2 498 8888; 130,000 dirham ($35,398) per night.
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The Dubai Floor, Raffles Dubai
What was once the private playground of Sheikh Mana Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum (Raffles Dubai’s owner) is now a suite open to the public.
“Suite” -- well, more like an apartment you could easily get lost in.
Within the 2,000 square-meter space there are six bedrooms and three kitchens.
You get to choose the type of Arabian scent wafting through the place.
You needn’t ever really leave. The suite has its own cinema (getting predictable now), spa and hair salon.
If you do want to step out, a private elevator will take you straight to a limo with its own chauffeur.
Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road, Wafi; +971 4 324 8888; 100,000 dirham ($27,229) per night
Grand Ski Chalet, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
It’s like a Chamonix ski lodge on sand dunes.
Never mind that Dubai is one of the hottest inhabited places on Earth -- why not build a ski run, and connect a hotel to it?
The Kempinski’s Grand Ski Chalet is furnished as an Alps-style abode, complete with wood finishes and faux fur throws -- though unless you pump up the air-con you won’t be needing them.
The views that muddle the brain -- windows look across Ski Dubai, one of the world’s largest indoor ski resorts.
There are penguins, too, shipped in from Texas Sea World.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai; +971 4 341 000; 35,000 dirham ($9,530) per night
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Three-bedroom Palace Suite, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Six billion dollars.
No, that’s not a typo -- it's the reported cost of the Emirates Palace.
So what can you expect from a suite in the second most expensive hotel ever built?
For starters, there’s marble imported from 13 countries and gold leaf by the trunk-load.
If the décor doesn’t leave you boggle-eyed, there’s the army of staff: a 24-hour butler, private chef and waiters to serve in your private dining room.
What really sounds worth a peek at is the six Rulers’ Suites -- strictly out of bounds unless you belong to a ruling family from one of the Gulf Co-operation Council members.
Thought you probably didn’t.
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, West Corniche Road; +971 2 690 9000; 14,000 dirham ($3,812) per night
Presidential Suite, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
Whether you think the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi’s shell-like façade looks beautiful or like an armadillo, it nonetheless sets the scene for the UAE’s sporting event of the year: Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
For F1 hotshots, the two-story Presidential Suite is the only place worth entertaining groupies -- not just for its size, Swarovski race-track-shaped chandelier nor for its track-side terrace.
It’s the private 10-meter lap pool (revealed at the flick of a remote) that secures its stud status.
If the after party is at yours, there's an easy way to impress the guests -- the pool has underwater lights that change color.
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Yas Island; +971 2 656 0000; from 20,000 dirham ($5,445) per night
Abu Dhabi Suite, The St Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi
This is the world’s highest suspended suite.
Not that there are many other suspended suites to compete.
Though it’s not open to guests until later this year, you can see it teetering 200-metres above the ground, between the hotel’s two towers.
Needless to say, the vistas are superb, but the décor is almost as grand -- it includes 24-carat gold leaf accents, cascading crystals and leather wall tiles.
On top of the elevators, spa and movie theater (one of those again), there’s a private gym.
The St Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers; +971 2 694 4444; price on request