The rebranded Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, Abu Dhabi opened its doors early this year following an extensive redesign of its guest rooms and dining offers. The epitome of luxury in Abu Dhabi, located on a pristine private beach, now boasts a new spa and sports facilities that enhance its appeal as a resort.
The visionary approach of Champalimaud Design, a renowned New York-based interior design studio, ensures that the hotel remains globally recognised, preserving its heritage while embracing a fresh and captivating design aesthetic and contemporary luxury.
Inspired by the region’s history and the juxtaposition of the desert and the Arabian Gulf, the redesign pays homage to tradition using overarching concepts originating from the destination’s layered and ancient history.
The award-winning designer has integrated a sense of place, emphasising high craftsmanship and weaving a contemporary sensibility through renovated guest rooms, suites, public spaces, and restaurants. From the opulent lobby to the thoughtfully curated rooms and suites, every detail reflects a deep connection to the location, creating an immersive and sophisticated experience.
The EP Club, dining spaces, and spa areas have also been reimagined to provide guests with diverse and exceptional amenities. Artworks throughout were curated by art consultant Visto, completing the final layer in a rich visual story.
“This design narrative brings to life a romantic and bespoke, sophisticated yet understated residential sensibility. There is a major focus on craftsmanship and precision. It is luxurious in every aspect, from the broad concept to the mood of the lighting and the tactility of the materials,” says Kajsa Krause, Principal and Director of Strategy, Champalimaud Design.
Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental has 390 rooms and suites furnished to the highest levels of comfort and has stunning views of the city, sea and garden. It boasts 12 dining venues, lush gardens, a lavish 1,500-sq-m spa, two temperature-controlled swimming pools, a kids’ club and a private marina.
Upon entering the lobby, guests are welcomed by ornate marble and gilded ceilings paired with new contemporary furnishings and finishes. Along the corridors, bright wall trim and inset wallcoverings are contrasted against dark stone door drops and custom carpet patterns inspired by raked sand, which pick up the tonality of the various existing marble colorations to blend in with the grand corridor atriums. Door signage is designed with layered cut-outs based on Arabic geometric patterns, backlit for added glow and ambiance as you move through the corridors.
The hotel’s rooms and suites possess a modern residential aesthetic. Headboard walls are adorned with back-lit screens inspired by the geometric lighting effects of traditional Arabian screens. An oversized mirror integrated at the end of the screen reflects the terrace and surrounding views, giving a sense of expanded space and deep connectivity to the sky and the ocean.
“Headboards, bedside tables and lamps were designed and curated to bring a rich sensibility, using thoughtful leather and metal detail throughout. These are softened with bespoke colourful ceramic lamp bases, soft linen shades and custom area rugs inspired by the patterns created by water and sand. Each custom light fixture draws inspiration from organic forms and local gardens,” Krause says.
Mother-of-pearl inlay in the bedroom dresser references the history of pearl diving that once sustained the Arabian Gulf, while sheer drapery and a deep aqua blue accent colour scheme connect the outdoors to the indoors. Cerused wood flooring is complemented by hand-tufted rugs with patterns inspired by the movements of sand and water.
Integrated custom light fixtures evoke the heritage of oil lamps and hanging lanterns, a nod to local traditions of the past now interpreted in a modern design. The interior doors were replaced with new white door frames and fluted translucent inset panels for a renewed experience that provides more light between the rooms, without compromising privacy.
The Royal Suite delivers a superior private residential experience. Rich in tonality and pattern, Champalimaud Design joined exotic marbles, stingray leathers and boldly veined woods with high-touch finishes, all speaking to the narrative of Abu Dhabi as a node along the ancient trade routes.
The EP Club comprises 660 sq m of elevated living, dining, and relaxing areas exclusively for members and suite guests. Champalimaud Design has created a sequence of residential en-suite rooms, all with different characters and offerings to provide a breadth of experiences, from private moments to social gatherings. The open kitchen is located at the heart of the space, with secondary spaces radiating and connecting, such as a library lounge, a living room, and a private dining room.
Material contrasts of white polished stone set against reflecting surfaces and darker millwork build visual excitement.
As part of the culinary destination Episodes, Champalimaud Design has reimagined a series of three exquisitely designed dining spaces, each reflecting their sense of place. First is the Tea Apothecary, where inspiration from the Far East meets the Middle East with pastel tones evoking tea fields and gardens. The selection of furniture and materials brings a contemporary aesthetic, with crystal flowers and silk leaves integrating light for a dramatic transition from day to night.
A gourmet Deli has been designed to deliver an energetic and less formal setting for all-day dining. Luxurious white marble details, rich wood toned millwork and dark metal accents both play off the gilded backdrop of the Palace. A Gelateria perfectly complements the original Mandarin Cake Shop with a colourful and playful aura, adding softer, creamy colours with a nod to the old Italian art of gelato.
Champalimaud Design has unveiled a new Moroccan spa – The Hideaway by Emirates Palace Spa and The Hideaway Spa Cabanas – where the lounge areas will be further enhanced with heritage pattern-cut screens. A members’ pool and fitness centre adjacent to the spa have been completely redesigned with new stone finishes, modern millwork, and elevated brightware selections. A sauna and steam room, a new fresh juice bar and a retail area are resplendent with contemporary wood and marble touches.