Visiting Abu Dhabi? An Alternate to Tea at Burj Al Arab

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Guest post from reader Denise, miles and points enthusiast and co-founder of Magical Mystery Tours.

If find yourself going to the United Arab Emirates and are a frequent reader of Boarding Area blogs like I am, one of your first thoughts is probably, “I should have tea at Burj Al Arab!” You’ve read the reviews here and here, you’ve seen the crazy exterior, and know that it’s supposedly one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

Though, if you’re also crazy about points and miles like I am and love saving money, your second thought is probably, “Over $300 for tea for two? Ack!” Of course, you could start calculating how much you’re saving on other parts of your trip by using points and to justify that you’re still coming out ahead even if you drop a few hundred dollars on tea (which I tried to do). Ultimately, I wasn’t up for tea at Burj al Arab (we just went for drinks), but did end up doing tea at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, and thought it was an excellent trade off.

Emirates Palace Hotel has also coined itself a 7-star hotel. Emirates Palace isn’t quite as unique as Burj Al Arab architecturally, but it also has a gorgeous exterior and even has a gold-dispensing ATM in the lobby! Not too shabby.

1 Emirates Palace Exterior Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace holds high tea daily in Le Café, their lobby restaurant, from 2:00-6:00. They recommend making a reservation, which you can do easily by emailing restaurants@emiratespalace.ae, though when we were there is wasn’t all that crowded and you probably could have just walked up and gotten a seat.

When you make your reservation, they’ll ask you to confirm if you want to do Arabic or European high tea, and let you know that the minimum spend is AED 100.00 per person (about $30). The full tea service is AED 240, and was more than enough for us to share, and even have some leftovers that they boxed up for us. I’m still not exactly sure if it was meant to share or if you were supposed to order one, per-person, though I don’t see any reason why you’d order more than one for two people.

Tea starts with them giving you a tea menu that’s about ten pages long. Two teas or coffees are included as part of the tea package.

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Tea Menu

In addition to every standard tea you can imagine, there’s the Emirates Palace Cappuccino that’s topped with gold flakes, and the Camelccino made with “frothy camel milk and date syrup”. We weren’t brave enough to go for the Camelccino, but but the Emirates Palace Cappucino was tasty, and definitely prettier than your average cappuccino.

3 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Cappucino

As the second course, the bring a three-tiered tray with sandwiches (egg salad, salmon, etc.), pitas and dips like hummus and feta, and then an assortment of scones and Arabic desserts. We never quite figured out what the Arabic desserts were, but there was lots of honey and date flavors desserts and some things that reminded us of Christmas cookies. There was also an assortment of clotted creams, rose jam, and apricot marmalade.

4 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Tea Tray

If you’re anything like us and want to try everything they bring, you’ll probably be stuffed before the third course, but tea also includes a “chocolate fondant”, which was similar to a flourless chocolate cake, topped with a gooey chocolate coating, and gold flakes.

5 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Chocolate Fondant

I knew virtually nothing about UAE history before going, but they were a British Protectorate from the late 1800’s through the 1960’s hence the British influence and lots of the nicer hotels having fantastic high teas in the afternoons. The Arabic tea was an especially fun and different twist on a traditional tea. It was also a great way to break up a long day of sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, and spend a few hours relaxing in a gorgeous air-conditioned lobby.

After tea, we walked around the lobby and joined other tourists to gawk at the gold-dispensing ATM (which actually dispenses little Emirates Palace hotel pendants—not bars of gold!). We had been hoping to check out the pool and beach, but that was only accessible to hotel guests.

6 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Gold ATM

7 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi Gold ATM 2

8 Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi PRETTY CEILING IN THE LOBBY

Doing tea at Emirates Palace hotel was certainly different than it would have been at Burj Al Arab. Most obviously, there weren’t any excellent city views during tea though it was still certainly a great way to spend an afternoon, very good food and and tea, and a lot less to agonize over when considering the price!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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