The Burj al Arab is one of Dubai’s most famous attractions and chances are you’ll pass it on your Dubai exploration itinerary.
Only a few can find out what the interior of Burj Al Arab looks like. You can’t just walk up here unless you’re staying at least one night, but you can certainly pay a visit for a glimpse inside. I am fascinated by the standard of this 7 star property and decide to see for myself what next level luxury can look like!
With my daughter in tow, I take a taxi to the wing of the beautiful Jumeirah Beach Hotel, located close to the Burj al Arab, where we are warmly welcomed. A quick check-in (AED 249 per person) and a welcome drink later, a buggy takes us to the exclusive Burj al Arab tour entrance. A butler and hostess welcome us with rose water, dates, tea and a tour overview.
I am amazed as I walk past the lobby and looking up I see one of the tallest atriums in the world with a height of 180m (590ft) in a honeycomb style grid. The design is enlivened by a colorful aquarium and an enchanting tranquil water feature, but at regular intervals a 32m column of water rises skyward from the low pool to the top of the atrium. The illumination on the falling droplets enhances a touch of fairy tale. As I head for the elevator, I see Swarovski crystals (21,000, we’re told) sparkle from the ceiling. I have to admit that the interior is stunning as far as the use of color is concerned. The express elevator takes us to the 25th floor and on the way up, I can’t help but admire bird’s eye views of the Arabian Gulf and the Palm Jumeirah.
THE ROYAL SUITE
Most of the sumptuous suites like the Royal are spread over two floors. As we knock on the door, a butler greets us courteously. This suite has hosted several celebrities over the years. Now it is fully reserved for Inside Burj al Arab tours only. The stupendous staircase is quite the show stopper. The ground floor has a lively living room, a reserved dining room and an office that can be transformed into another bedroom. But the most notable rooms are the king and queen on the first floor. Yellow reigns supreme, with fire being the brightest and strongest of the four elements. Yellow and red tones and a revolving bed for the king while yellow and pink tones and a comfortable Majlis bedroom for the queen. Prosperity is an understatement when it comes to the royal suite where even the sprays are coated in 24k gold.
Next up on the tour is a fantastic dinner… my daughter Akanksha loves this interactive illusion menu as the dishes appear enchantingly at the touch of a button. Yes, even the 24 gold cappuccino. After having eaten well, we are offered a cup of Arabic coffee and a fresh seedless date (I take two). We move around checking out the model of the hotel, samples of the fabrics used in the rooms and discovering the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, architect Tom Wright and interior designer Khuan Chew. Other exhibits highlight some of the notable stunts that took place at the helipad. It’s where Tiger Woods went, where Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played tennis and where kitesurfer Nick Jacobsen jumped from it with his kiteboard. I also absorb the fish and turtle hospital which is housed in the basement. Each year, this refuge takes care of more than two hundred rescued turtles.
The tour ends at the well-appointed shop where Akanksha ends up buying a souvenir mug and begs me to buy the exorbitantly priced photos the photographer clicked on, it’s not everyday you visit a place like this this one, she insists. We have access to the UMA sky bridge as part of the tour, but I made a reservation at SAL, their beach side restaurant. Akanksha loves a truffle pizza she saw on Instagram and I think the food is great and the view is beautiful. When we are ready to leave, a buggy driver takes us back to the visitor center in the cart.
(Awarded “Best Food Writer in the Country” by India’s Culinary Forum, WACS and Ministry of Tourism, Rupali Dean writes about food and travel.)