Not one to do things by halves, the Burj Al Arab sits on its own manmade island off the coast, separated from the shore by a bridge usually populated with the hotel’s own Rolls Royces, private sports cars or golf buggies taking guests to the beach. It’s sat within decent distance of many Dubai hotspots – the Mall of the Emirates is just a five-minute drive away, while Wild Wadi Water Park is even closer – but if you’re staying inside it’s likely you’ll not want to waste one second of your time elsewhere.
The Burj’s rooms are the stuff of legend across Dubai, with few souls lucky enough to have enjoyed a stay. The ‘basic’ Deluxe Suite comes on two floors, linked by spiral staircase. The colours are quite bold (subtlety isn't the Burj's strong point), with regal blue shouting for attention with oranges and reds. Imagine if Del Boy had been asked to design his ultimate pad, and this might not be far off. Each suite, naturally, comes with its own Jacuzzi, plus an enviable collection of Hermes bathroom products.
To suggest the Burj is slightly ostentatious is an understatement. The enormous lobby glitters with golf leaf, lavished enthusiastically on almost every surface, while a gigantic fountain spurts water up towards the roof. It has been described as ‘tacky’ and ‘excessive’, which it is, but it’s still definitely worth experiencing, even if you’re not staying the night.
Eating and drinking
Suspended some 200 metres above sea level, the Burj’s Skyview Bar – which appears as the vertical strip at the top of the hotel – offers some spectacular views, along with some rather 80s style airport-lounge furnishings, and is a unique spot for a (rather expensive) cocktail or the much-loved Afternoon Tea. Closer to ground, Junsui serves an excellent weekend buffet brunch of East Asian delights, while below the surface there’s the Al Mahara seafood restaurant, accessible by a rather cheesy (but fun) simulated submarine voyage. As you might imagine, they're all quite hideously overpriced.
The Assawan Spa on the 18th floor is suitably opulent, clad in colourful marble, featuring several infinity pools and with views across the Gulf. There's a well-stocked kids' club on the same floor.
As you can imagine, ridiculously friendly and helpful. You'll barely have to open a single door yourself. Each floor comes with its own private butler.
Who stays there
Either the fabulously wealthy or those looking for a one-time splurge. The Burj's reputation has guests from all over the world clambering for a stay, including celebrity types who often arrive via the helicopter pad on the roof. There are also rumours of Saudi billionaires who live in the hotel for months on end.
The price for a standard Deluxe One Bedroom Suite includes breakfast for two. For an extra 282 dirhams, the 'Summer Break' package throws in dinner at the Bab Al Yam restaurant, free airport pick up in a BMW 7 Series and two kids (not included) under 16 can stay and eat for free.
Pros & Cons
- Ultimate luxury
- Incredible service
- Wayne Rooney stayed here
- Extremely gaudy
- Hideously expensive