Even more ostentatious than the name suggests, this property on the waterfront is truly mind-boggling in size and scope. Embodying all that is shiny and excessive about the UAE’s take on luxury, the Emirates Palace Hotel is right on the beach (its own private one) and set on extensive ‘palace’ grounds a short drive from the center of Abu Dhabi. Interiors are just as impressive as exteriors – rooms have 50-inch interactive plasma TVs, sea-view balconies, massive gold beds and over-sized marble bathrooms, each guest is attributed a personal butler and food onsite is naturally the best of everything from all reaches of the globe. Swimming is an obvious pastime here – there’s a beach for families (women) and one for couples, plus a waterslide park and various pools. The Anantara Spa just adds to the pampering.