There are hotels. There are luxury hotels. And then there’s the Burj al Arab. Not a step, but a leap above the rest in nearly every category. A global icon of Arabian opulence, the Jumeirah affiliate was built for $1 Billion on a man-made island off the coast of Dubai. For years, it has been regarded by writers and critics as the most luxurious hotel in the world, having received a 5-Star Award from Forbes Travel Guide and named Best Hotel in the World by The Telegraph’s ULTRA Awards. One journalist famously insisted that the Burj be deemed a seven-star hotel, as five stars wasn’t enough to capture the hotel’s grandeur. Complimentary Rolls Royce chauffeurs usher guests across a guarded bridge to the Dhow shaped skyscraper, while some guests take its private helicopters to the helipad, known to host entertainment venues and performers like David Guetta amidst a jaw-dropping sunset.
Ultimately, the Burj Al Arab is unmatched in the sheer audacity of its vision for luxury. Designed by architect Khuan Chew, its illustrious interior boasts a color palette and texture that pays homage to the Arabian Peninsula. Deep crimson, blue, gold and occasional turquoise, adorn the lobby and atrium, along with lofty ceilings with swirling designs and elegant, London chandeliers. Every inch is meticulously and beautifully detailed, from the custom made Indian and South African carpets, to the thirty variations of marble and 20,000 square feet of 24-karat gold leaf that furnish its elevators, suites and restaurants. The 590-foot-tall atrium is one of the largest in the world, but it can also be a congested space as tourists gather to gaze up at the triangular, eighteen stories that dazzle in kaleidoscopic colors. In conjunction with the circular fountain that shoots water 130 feet into the air, several large aquariums that create a dynamic ambiance, a cascade waterfall and panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf, your eyes will never grow bored or unimpressed.
Rooms & Suites
The average suite at the Burj Al Arab would be a premier residence at most other luxury hotels. Though the Burj is only 56 stories, each floor is as tall as two, making every suite a duplex. A team of butlers, per floor, services guests every need and desire, assuming the lavish rooms haven’t already fulfilled them. Each room, and the spaces within, seems like its own work of art. The priceless furniture often appears too nice to sit on. A marble staircase ascends to a spacious master bedroom that includes a DUX mattress, an extensive pillow menu and bedding fashioned from Eiderdown feathers. The bathrooms are equally ornate, showcasing white marble, beautiful tile art and fourteen pieces of Hermes toiletries, including cologne and perfume. Thanks to the shape and location of the hotel, every suite also overlooks the sea.
The hotel’s principal residences, two Royal suites each occupying 8,396 square-feet and half of the 25th floor, exhibit astounding detail difficult to suitably delineate in one blog, let alone a paragraph. They feature a dining room for up to twelve, a Majlis-style sitting room, a study and a private cinema. A grand staircase and elevator lead to the master bedroom, which includes a rotating canopy bed, a massive dressing room and an opulent bathroom. The suites possess twenty-seven phones throughout and 24-Karat gold iPads as a virtual concierge in addition to a team of butlers.
Extending from the base of the Burj and stretching one-hundred meters into the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf, The Terrace hosts a singular leisure facility with first-rate hospitality. The 108,000 square-foot space was built in 2016 by the Finnish company, ADMARES, which specializes in marine construction. It features a beach, four jacuzzies, two infinity pools designed with 10 million mosaic tiles of azure and gold, and thirty-two air-conditioned cabanas with dedicated butler service, as well as eight Royal Cabanas that include a shower area, private bathroom and veranda. The facility also offers alfresco dining at the Scape Restaurant and Bar, serving California fusion dishes from head Chef Timur Fazilov. As the Burj’s most ambitious endeavor since the hotel’s construction, The Terrace is a remarkable feat in design, architecture and luxury.
Situated on the eighteenth floor of the opulent resort, Talise Spa offers an ideal space to luxuriate like a king. The award-winning two-level sanctuary bathes in natural light afforded by its towering windows, through which guests can glimpse the sun setting over the Arabian waters. As detailed and ostentatious as the rest of the Burj, the spa showcases elaborate Mediterranean designs with yellow and turquoise accents. Separate men’s and women’s relaxation spaces are complete with aqua retreats, treatment rooms and their own captivating views. Talise provides various calm-inducing treatments, from rejuvenating caviar facials by La Prairie to Asian massages. For couples, the Romantic Moonlight Swim is a must, consisting of dual massages followed by a private swim under the stars.
Nine distinct restaurants can be found throughout the Burj, each flaunting their own unique dining experiences. Sal showcases a chic aesthetic and southern Mediterranean décor in a casual beach setting. Al Muntaha serves fine French cuisine by acclaimed Chef Saverio Sbaragli amidst vibrant, turquoise walls and tall windows overlooking Dubai. On the 27th floor, Gold on 27 is an ideal evening hub and the hotel’s chicest space, featuring an elegant lounge, atmospheric jazz, views of the city skyline and a gilded bar beneath hanging crystals.
But Al Mahara is the hotel’s flagship restaurant and most extravagant dining setting, serving refined seafood among oceanic themes. Guests enter through a golden, tubular hallway, passing gilded wine racks and a hostess stand decorated with golden seashells. The centerpiece of the dining space is a 260,000-gallon, floor-to-ceiling aquarium that creates an underwater ambience. Head Chef Kim Joinie-Maurin leads the kitchen with three Michelin stars to his name and a worldly, experimental style, preparing dishes as extravagant as the restaurant itself.