Built on a specially created island 280 metres offshore, the distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab is one of the most recognizable symbols of modern Dubai. Enjoying it from a distance is relatively easy from places like Jumeirah Beach, but getting inside? How deep are your pockets?
It’s impossible to gain access unless you’re a guest or have a reservation at one of its restaurants. If stepping inside the most luxurious hotel in the world is a “must-do” activity when visiting Dubai, one of the most economical ways to do so is to splurge on high tea.
Luxury and opulence
Burj Al Arab epitomizes the extreme excess and extravagance characterizing present-day Dubai.
With its 202 luxurious two-floor suites with marble staircases, exquisite gold-leaf interiors, personal butlers and private receptions on every floor, Burj Al Arab has a reputation for being a seven-star hotel. No such official rating exists, but amenities such as 24-carat gold iPads in every room, a 13-selection pillow menu and a large fleet of chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces have a lot to do with keeping the myth alive.
The towering atrium rises 180 metres above the lobby, flanked by robust pillars gilded in 22-carat gold.
The lobby washroom boasts a full-time attendant, cloth hand towels, complimentary perfume, flowering orchids and gold-plated fittings.
Burj Al Arab reeks of luxury and opulence.
Splurge on high tea at Burj Al Arab
We opted for the five-course Ultimate Afternoon Tea served in the first-floor Sahn Eddar restaurant. The version without champagne cost AED 500 (136 USD) per person with unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. Steep, but considerably less than the pay-to-stay option starting at AED 6000 (1600 USD) per night.
Access to the hotel is strictly monitored. At the entrance to the causeway is a security hut and steel barricade. After presenting a copy of the reservation, our names were checked off a list. As the barricade lowered, we were invited to proceed across the bridge to the hotel lobby where we were greeted with a valet parking service.
In the restaurant, the service was impeccable. We were shamelessly pampered, and treated like royalty.
Starting with drinks, Maggie tried the apple blossom cocktail, while I gave the date and pineapple cocktail a whirl. Other delicious combinations accompanied the early courses.
We had at least seven different servers and each course was described in detail as it was placed before us. Servings included exquisitely prepared dainty wraps and finger sandwiches, savoury tartlets, French pastries, and traditional scones with homemade jams and Devonshire clotted cream. As could be expected with this kind of dining experience, cutlery and plates were replaced after each course.
We milked every minute of the two-hour experience by trying a variety of tea and coffee, if only to enjoy the elegant way in which each one was presented.
Was it worth it?
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts comes to mind. It was the entire experience (and then some) that was noteworthy, not any one aspect in particular. Would I do it again? No, it’s one of those self-indulgent pleasures where once is enough. But it was worth it. And it’s certainly worth doing sometime for something, or someone, special.
How about you? Have you visited Burj Al Arab? Or splurged on some other once-in-a-lifetime extravagance? Do tell, in the comments.