Bookworm book count: 39 but we bought 5 more today and there is still time!
For the last two European holidays we have chosen to book end them with a stopover in Dubai and on both occasions, have chosen to end the trip staying at the Burj al Arab.
The first stay was all down to the husband. He has had a fascination with the building and a desire to have a drink at the Sky Bar – literally floating at the top, for several years – and so he convinced me that it would make sense to stay there last time. It is after all, meant to be the most luxurious hotel in the world.
This time, it took no convincing at all.
It is without doubt the most incredible hotel we have ever had the privilege to stay in. The small person said yesterday “the Burj al Arab can be summed up in 3 words – attention to detail” and she is not wrong.
From the moment you arrive and cross the bridge linking you to the island on which the hotel sits, it is like entering a whole new world. Everyone knows your name, they are waiting to welcome you and for you to need them to do something to help make your stay perfect. Only thing is – you never seem to need to ask for anything. It all just magically appears before you even knew you wanted it.
The building itself is incredible. It is 28 stories high – only each floor of suites is actually 2 stories, so in reality it is much higher (56 stories). There are 202 suites in the hotel. The smallest suite is 169 square metres and the largest is 780.
Trust me when I say – entry level is all you need here.
With a grand sweeping staircase between the ground floor and the bedroom level, the rooms are huge and every tiny detail has been thought through. Each year every room is entirely renovated so there is nothing shabby. A printer, an iMac, a iPad, 2 large screen TV’s – if you think you need it – trust me it will be here, somewhere.
There is even a huge mirror above the bed that made for a great family photo – and I’m sure that was exactly what it was intended for.
There are couches and chairs in the suite that 5 days in, I have not even sat on yet. The gold leaf chairs – shine like new and the house keeping team are incredible, pillows fluffed, fresh robes and towels arrive twice daily and amenities are restocked just about every time you leave the room. And how do they know you have left the room? – well one of the butlers who sits just outside and waits for you to need him, will know.
Each floor has its own dedicated butler – who are there to help with any whim. From keeping an eye on the child, while Mum and Dad have a drink at the Sky Bar to assisting with the huge blow up Unicorn each time she returned from the pool, they go out of their way to make your stay memorable. Charlotte memorised all their names (Esmat, Luis, Dip and Raymond) she was so impressed. Need a reservation – it’s done. I am sure if I asked for a rainbow to slide down and real unicorn for Charlotte to ride around the expansive lobby on – they’d work out how to make it happen.
The hotel interiors are pretty over the top and may not be to everyone’s taste but it is the staff and (as Charlotte said) the attention to detail that makes the hotel truely 7 star.
Amenities are full size Hermes – one set for him, one set for her and include perfume and body cream. $600USD worth, and while they don’t top up the perfume and body cream daily, they do the shampoo, conditioner and body wash. There are children’s amenities, little treats left on the pillows each night, fresh fruit delivered daily, an evening drinks trolly and little snacks late afternoon. And that is just in the room. You can expect treats delivered poolside almost hourly and fresh water, face spray and iced towels in chilly bags magically appear as you sit down.
Charlotte is treated like a princess with kid sized robes, slippers and jandles to protect her precious toes from the hot Terrace. She’s getting frighteningly used to it!
Since our last stay they have added the Terrace – a 10,000 square metre floating island that sits on the sea at the back of the hotel. Built in Finland and the floated to Dubai – it has to be seen to be believed. Invisible from the mainland, it is basically a massive deck, with two additional swimming pools (there are already 3 in the hotel -two indoor and smaller outdoor pool) Here you’ll find a 140 metre infinity salt water pool and another, slightly smaller fresh water pool, equipped with a pool bar – maned by the lovely Indika, who’ll happily whip you up a cocktail while you sit on the bar stool – especially when you arrive on the back of a unicorn.
It doesn’t come cheap, even off peak – but it is worth every penny. This trip we have stayed in some incredible places, in some of their very best rooms (thanks to upgrades) and the Burj al Arab still comes out in top.
If you can’t stretch the budget to staying here – there are other options. You can dine in one of the many restaurants – from Al Mahara (think seafood with a huge aquarium at its centre), to Al Iwan (a traditional Arabic buffet), to Jinsu (Asian fare) or Scape (a more relaxed dining option on the Terrace) there is plenty to choose from. Or head to the top and have high tea or drinks at the SkyBar and watch the sun set. Bring your camera – but book well in advance and bring ID -they don’t let you in without it.
As you wander through the lobby watch the fountains dance and if you hang around for long enough, you’ll see one of the fountains shoot a jet of water 6 stories high.
If you’re staying, you get a choice of breakfast served in the room, poolside or at Jinsu if you feel like something Asian.
They are quite literally the best breakfasts you could imagine. Think bowls full of fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, every possible yoghurt, eggs any which way you want and if you are eating Asian – you can literally order anything – the husband had black bean chicken one day – for breakfast!
At this time of year it is really hot but if all you intend to do is lie by the pool, eat the amazing food and soak up the experience – you can’t beat it.
Plus it makes the thought of heading home just a little easier to bare. They say the last great thrill of any holiday is arriving home – I’m not sure that will be true of this one!
We’ll find out tomorrow. In the meantime – we’re off to the pool!
Highlights from small heights
The Burj is amazing, no doubt about it. It’s defiantly worthy of its seven star coining (even if the food and drink prices are nuts) but hey, I think some of Jumeriah’s other hotels are catching up. Or more specifically the Al Naseem.
For one it actually has a beach toy inflator (the almighty Burj misses out on those) and it’s views well lets just say I enjoy looking out at swimming pools rather than miserable, grey ocean. The Al Naseem has a calm, fun sort of air to it-the Burj can be rather formal at times.
Naseemy might be lacking in room space and butlers but who needs that when you have huge swimming pools, which I must say are similar sizes to the ones of the Burj. If your budget gasps in horror at the prices of the Burj, you’ve been before or you just think all that’s unnecessary, than maybe the Al Naseem is for you.
Burj fun rating: 9 out of ten.
Improvement tip: Get an inflator. Seriously you guys need one.
Charlotte’s two top tips: Think carefully about the prices and necessity of the Burj before choosing it over Al Naseem and if you do go there watch the dancing fountains in Burj land. You’ll thank me later.
Winner of the holiday fun ratings: Taormina, you’re on top!