Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Visiting the Burj al Arab: The World’s Most Luxurious Hotel


Burj al Arab Spa

I’m not a girl who dreams about hotels.

I have some friends who work in the luxury hotel industry and they wax poetic about hotels they dream of visiting someday — hotels with plunge pools overlooking mountains, glass-bottomed overwater bungalows and 50,000 thread count sheets.

Me? I get their fascination, but hotels aren’t my thing, and they don’t dominate my travel dreams…

Except for one.

The Burj al Arab.

Burj al Arab

The Burj al Arab is one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks, its sailboat-shaped silhouette emerging from the sea.

The hotel, which opened in 1999, declared itself the world’s first seven-star hotel — even though that rating technically doesn’t exist. It is over-the-top in every way possible.

From the first time I saw a picture of the Burj al Arab, I dreamed of visiting it. But the hostel is closed to visitors, and there’s no way in hell I could ever afford to stay there.

This is where being a professional travel blogger comes in. I emailed the resort and asked if I could drop by for a visit.

Not only did they give me permission to visit, they offered to show me around!

Burj al Arab Lobby

The lobby impressed me right off the bat with enormous gold pillars and dancing fountains.

Burj al Arab Lobby

The honeycomb-style grid is very rare in hotels, and here it was an amazing design element. This hotel is all about breathtaking grandeur.

After being greeted by the Burj’s PR team, it was time to do what I’ve always wanted:

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab


The Burj al Arab’s Second Most Fanciest Suite

CNN named the Burj al Arab’s Royal Suite the 12th most expensive hotel suite in the world in 2012 with a nightly rate of around $18,716.

The Royal Suite was actually booked during our visit, despite it being the lowest point of low season (Ramadan plus the middle of the summer). Instead, we went to see one of their #2 suites.

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

It starts with a grand foyer…

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

And merges into multiple sitting rooms with many bars, adjoined to offices complete with Mac desktops. The suite has two ensuite bedrooms.

The master bedroom:

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

I can’t tell you how hard it was not to jump on that bed.

And the master bath:

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

How much would you love for this to be your bathroom?! Look at the size of that tub!

One reader remarked to me that the Burj would be more toward the taste of Eastern tourists with its penchant for gold-dripped anything. Well, I’m a Leo — in my opinion, you can’t have too much gold!

But it’s true that gold does tend to reflect the design aesthetic of the up-and-coming billionaire regions of the world like China, India, and Russia. Years ago, the Burj al Arab catered foremost to wealthy American tourists, we were told. In time, however, their customer base has shifted toward wealthy Russians and Chinese.

You don’t get a lot of presidents or royalty staying here — it tends to be the super-rich rather than the super-powerful.

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

The guest bedroom here isn’t too shabby.

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

And the guest bathroom! How would you like a mosaic on your bathroom wall?

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

I remarked that I really liked the shadow clock that was projected onto the wall. Turns out these clocks were such popular items that the Burj began selling them to their guests!

After leaving the suite, we went to the spa floor, where you’ll be able to take the best picture of the Burj al Arab:

Burj al Arab View from Spa Floor

To get here, take the elevator to the spa floor and walk around the perimeter to the lobby. Stand next to the white piano and you’ll be in the perfect position.

View from Burj al Arab Skyview Bar

Afternoon Tea at the Burj al Arab

The Burj’s PR team also generously invited me to experience their Sky Tea afternoon tea in the Skyview Bar on the 27th floor, overlooking the coastline with a view of the Burj Khalifa in the far distance.

I started my tea with something I had never tried before: sparkling date juice.

Sparkling Date Juice

“You won’t believe where this is made,” our waiter told me.

“No idea. Lebanon?”

“France,” he said with a grin.

“No way.”

“Yes, they make it there. The dates are from the Middle East, though.”

After the sparkling date juice, they brought a pot of tea and a cappuccino and treated to the following courses:

Berry Tarte

Berry tarte — a light start for what was ahead.

Burj al Arab Afternoon Tea: Roast Beef

Chef’s carvery of the day: roast beef with mashed potatoes. This was sensational, and I could have easily had one or two more servings.

Afternoon Tea Burj al Arab Sandwiches

Sandwiches galore. That zebra-looking bread is actually made of squid ink and pureed apples! Incredible. (And there are free refills on the sandwiches, so to speak.)

Afternoon Tea Burj al Arab Cakes

And then it was time for tower of desserts in a tray shaped like the Burj al Arab itself!

Starting from top to bottom, I began with the absolute best scones and clotted cream I’ve ever had (and having lived a year and a half in the UK, that is a HUGE deal). Next, a selection of cakes.

The best item on the menu was the sweetest dish of all: camel milk creme brûlée. By that point, though, I had eaten so much that I was struggling to get through my final delicious bites.

And a surprise!

Afternoon Tea Burj al Arab Birthday Cake

A birthday cake! A sweet way to add to the occasion.

Afternoon Tea Burj al Arab Sorbet

And finally, the dish that almost made us burst — lychee and rose sorbet.

I was DONE. Stuffed, sated, and absolutely full of sugar.

Luxury Suite, Burj al Arab

The Evaluation

I am never going to be able to afford to stay at the Burj al Arab. But I am so glad that I actually got to visit that place, that I actually got to see that lobby and take those pictures and experience the place that I’ve dreamed of visiting for so long.

And as a full-time blogger who has lately been feeling more of the pitfalls than the joys, being able to achieve a decade-long goal was the ultimate redeeming experience.

If you dream of visiting the Burj al Arab and aren’t secretly married to a Saudi prince or Russian czarina, afternoon tea is your best bet. It’s not a budget activity — afternoon teas start at 285 AED ($78) and my Sky Tea cost 450 AED ($123) — but every moment of it was absolute delicious pleasure.

Considering the food that you get, the views, and the Burj al Arab experience, I consider it much better value than afternoon tea at the fanciest hotels in London, for example.

Does that make it worth it to you? Then absolutely go and indulge yourself at this fabulous hotel.

Essential Info: The Burj al Arab is a private resort, and it’s closed to non-guests. However, you can visit if you have a dining reservation at one of the restaurants. Afternoon tea is the most economical option.

There are several kinds of afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab. I experienced the Sky Tea, which costs 450 AED ($123) per person. Other options include High Tea (285 AED/$78), Ultimate Afternoon Tea (410 AED/$112 with unlimited champagne, 360 AED/$98 without), and Asian Afternoon Tea (285 AED/$78).

Sky Tea is the only one served in the SkyView Lounge. Keep in mind that alcohol is not served during Ramadan.

Many thanks to the Burj al Arab for inviting me for a complimentary tour and Sky Tea. Special thanks to Izabela for taking the time to show us around and indulging my desire to take crazy pictures. All opinions, as always, are my own.

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43 Responses to “Visiting the Burj al Arab: The World’s Most Luxurious Hotel”
  1. Bradley says:

    awesome… pure luxury.

    did you see many people there? none of your pictures show anybody around., not that I am surprised due to the price.

    where have you been staying while there? seems like a crazy expensive country but considering 99.99999999% of the people there are considerably poor there has to be some cheap options right?

    • Well, I visited during the lowest point of low season — summer is very slow to begin with, due to the heat, and Ramadan is also a slow time in Dubai, so coming during both made it VERY slow! There were plenty of people there, though — I take care to wait until people are out of the shot unless they’re the subject or they add to the photo.

      Other than the two-night stay at the Kempinski for my birthday (a few posts back), we stayed with our friends the rest of the time. But Dubai has lots of affordable lodging, including hostels.

  2. Tower of desserts? Yes please.

  3. Amanda says:

    Wow, that place is stunning! And it’s great that they were willing to show you around – and let you hop into the bathtub! Haha.

    Definitely a nice place to dream about…

  4. I would spend that on the high tea for sure if it’s the price per couple. We’ve spent as much on dinner on occasion (we’re both food-lovers — we live and travel modestly and food is where we always splurge), so why not high tea (with all of that gorgeous food) in one of the most luxurious hotels in the world? And that view? Totally worth it. I’ll add it to my list. 😉

  5. Robyn says:

    Did they tell you how much is costs for their most “basic” room?

  6. Roma says:

    Wow Kate I’ve got to say, I’m green with envy. I didn’t realise before my visit that you couldn’t go in without a reservation. Devastating but probably for the best (for my budget!).

    Dubai is pure opulence, its nice to see your reviews cross over to show both sides of the city’s reputation.

  7. WOW! I’m glad you and Mario were able to enjoy this treat in Dubai 😀 The photos are amazing and staying there is like a dream come true 😀 Love the view from the Sky Tea. Hope to visit this place too soon 😀

  8. gpuig08 says:

    I loved this chronicle about The Burj al Arab, I am happy that you were able to spend such a magnificent time in Dubai. I was wondering if the price for the Sky Tea includes the food or just the chance to enjoy a drink inside the hotel?

  9. This post is the DEFINITION of luxury. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos!

  10. I had no idea you can’t just pop in for a visit! I am really considering visiting Dubai this spring, and would love to just see this “7 star” hotel.

    That afternoon tea looked amazing!

  11. I’m one of these people that is obsessed with hotels. The view from there is AMAZING! Wow!!! And that tub…

  12. Charlotte says:

    Wow, I’ve stayed in luxury hotels a few times in my life, but this is just crazy! I didn’t even know hotel obsessions were a thing until I read this post – always learn something new here :D.

  13. Again an Amazing post, what a mind blowing hotel! Don’t thing my wage will stretch as far as a night there but you are very lucky to have seen it first hand 🙂

  14. Jessica McDermott says:

    Hello Kate – I don’t know if you remember me, but you met my husband and I in Iceland last year. I broke my toe getting stepped on by one of those horses, and we continued our adventures in France and Amsterdam after that! Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I still follow your blog from time to time and am glad to see that you are still travelling. Please let me know if you and your fiance ever come through Denver and we will come out to say hello. 🙂

  15. Jennifer says:

    To be honest…. I’m not sure I like the decor! Think I may actually choose to stay somewhere else if I had that kind of money. Although must admit the food looks good, as does the views!

  16. Jessica says:

    WOW what luxury!!!! would love to stay there for a few nights :p

  17. Elle Croft says:

    Architecturally, this hotel is magnificent – and no doubt opulent down to the last detail…but to me, the decor is just tacky. If I was going to pay big bucks to stay at a hotel I’d choose one much more understated; this looks like somewhere to be seen, which doesn’t do it for me. Having said that, it’s great to get a glimpse inside, and that afternoon tea did look DIVINE! Glad you got to see it with your own eyes!

  18. I am so incredibly jealous! It sounds like an amazing experience!

  19. stephanie says:

    I LOVED my time in Dubai! I felt like it felt like Mars too, such a surreal landscape.

    The high tea looks gorgeous and I would like to enjoy it when I have someone to travel with in Dubai; it’s not as enjoyable solo!

  20. Wow, talk about OTT! Love the photos Kate, they’re absolutely awesome. The geometric styling really, really appeals to me.
    Would love to stay here just for the sheer wow factor.

  21. Jack Kent says:

    All I can say is “Wow”. Burj al Arab is such a wonderful place from the outside how much more in the inside. I envy you since you were able to visit my dream hotel. ha ha ha. All the food are mouthwatering and the view are so amazing. You can see the coastline and the Burj Khaifa. If I am going to be visiting that place, I will surely be in that hotel. How lucky you are since you have experience the place and I bet that it’s the very best gift you receive on your birthday.

  22. Angela says:

    Wow. What an amazing experience. I am not usually the hotel as a destination person either! It is great that you were able to get a tour around 🙂

  23. Michelle says:

    So freaking awesome 🙂

  24. Jacqui says:

    Wow, I’ve been to Dubai and really wanted to see what the inside of Burj al Arab was like but didn’t get a chance. Thankyou for satisfying my curiosity 🙂 I think the money for afternoon tea would be worth it as it would be an experience you would never forget – and it looks like you wouldn’t need to buy dinner either! 🙂

  25. Jennifer says:

    I love afternoon tea and it looks particularly delicious at The Burj!

  26. vira says:

    luxury travel is not my thing either. but getting a bit of luxury experience once in a while doesn’t hurt at all!

  27. Melvin says:

    Visiting the Burj in flip flops…. Nice one! 🙂

  28. Yana says:

    Wow! It’s one of my Bucket list items and it sounds and looks amazing! so much luxury and beauty!
    The bummer is…I will never get to go here.
    Thank you for the post, now it’s as if I visited there my self lol 🙂

  29. Anna says:

    Dang. I am kind of dying of envy.

  30. The fanciest afternoon I’ve ever had was at the Langham Hotel, but it definitely didn’t have views like this! Is it worth three times the price? Perhaps. Just to do it once. Of course, if I could afford to go to Dubai, this would be nothing, right?

    BTW, technically, this tea is a thousand times more expensive since I only paid 15 cents for the Langham afternoon tea since I went during their anniversary special.

  31. Aimee For-Young says:

    Hi Kate,

    Could you help me out? my boss has asked me to visit Saudi as part of a project I’m working on. I’m an engineer. Have you been there and can you give any tips/advice?

  32. Diana says:

    What a great way to see the hotel in a way that non-hotel guests will never get to see. The rooms, however, do look outdated (in a posh way)… which is consistent with the décor of the hotel. I agree, though, afternoon tea at the skyview bar is an awesome experience. So lucky you were able to get that on the house!

  33. very nice blog also very informative for hotel management students. thanks for sharing this.


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