Is it the "W" or is it the Palace?

We've had a couple of interesting hotels sitting in our bucket list for a few years and this July decided to close those gaps in our life experiences by making a visit to both.

The first was the W Hotel in Barcelona that we saw from afar on a trip to that Spanish city back in 2012.  We were fascinated by the structure's vague resemblance to The Burj al Arab in Dubai that we also planned to visit sometime in the near future.  So we booked a flight to the former city and had a room for a couple of nights at the iconic W Hotel.

Killing two birds with one stone meant looking for an extra stop on the trip and that turned out to be the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to A-B against the Burj in Dubai where we'd stayed in 2015.

So how did things turn out?

 The W is a very interesting and architecturally stunning building, but the entry area detracts from what otherwise should be a dramatic interior.  It pales by comparison to the Burj lobby whose atrium is supposedly the tallest in the world.  Our room on the 16th floor was just fine - modern and comfortable with great views looking down on the beach to the west, but housekeeping was spotty at best.  Despite having a moderately good dinner seaside one night, the restaurant scene came off as uninspiring.  The hotel's location was fine being close to the harbor and obviously directly on the Med.  We were able to easily walk along the quay and up to the Fundacio Juan Miro on Mont Juic without stretching ourselves too much.

But it wasn't really a five star experience here.  We'd give it a four at best.  As hip as the hotel W tries to be, it just doesn't seem to have much of what we might call a "soul', something that truly great hotels need.

On to Abu Dhabi.

Despite getting off to a rough start when our pre-ordered ride from the airport to the Emirates Palace Hotel never showed up, we finally did get checked in nicely and made it down to the Sayad restaurant for our first night's dinner.  The restaurant was terrific.  We ate there twice during our stay and I regard the two dinners among the top dozen I've ever had in my life.

Our sea facing room was good sized and outstanding in all respects.  Comfortable, plush, and felt like being at home. 

The hotel is amazing.  Apparently the third most expensive ($3B) ever built, it's literally huge.  It's roughly one kilometer in width from the end of one wing to the end of the other.  The private beach is about a mile long, and the pool area substantial as well.  There are nine restaurants of which we only tried three.

We'd return here in a heartbeat if ever in UAE again.  The experience was outstanding - and believe it or not, we regarded it as a bargain.

For three nights of lodging with  half board, the cost was approximately what we paid for a single night including breakfast only at the Burj in Dubai.  Enough said.  Five stars aren't enough for the quality of this operation.

Here's a brief video of our travels around Barcelona and in Abu Dhabi (with an emphasis on the food - in both places):