food · Travel

The Burj al Arab Experience

Man’s inate fascination for the -est and the unique…

The opening of Burj al Arab in Dubai in 1999 elicited a lot of curiosity, hype and awe. The hotel, uniquely shaped like a sail of a ship, is constructed on a manmade island off Jumeirah Beach and connected to the mainland by a short bridge. Burj is said to be the fourth tallest and the only “seven-star” hotel in the world. The hotel has only 202 bedroom suites, with prices ranging from approximately $11,000 to $45,000 a night.

Working in Dubai for a year, my twice daily dose of Burj al Arab to and from work had me fascinated with this weird-looking structure. I especially liked watching the “sail” change colors when we pass by in the early evenings, Burj’s version of a light show. The hotel observes a strict security procedure so a chance to get up close is unlikely unless you have a hotel booking or a reservation in their restaurants. We just content with taking pictures by the entrance or by Jumeirah Beach where one can also get a good view of the Burj. With the room rates, staying in one of their suites could just be a lifelong wish and I just can’t rationalize spending a fortune (even if I have the means) for a night stay.

In 2010, I was to be sent to Dubai for a few days of training. That was my chance! I was able to search for a reasonable way to live the dream – book SkyView Bar’s Indulgent Afternoon Tea at AED 395 (~$110) per person. And so, one day in May, the dream to be not just up close but “on and personal” with Burj al Arab came true. Excitement galore! 🙂

The Burj Experience

The booking for afternoon tea allowed us a privilege to arrive 30 minutes prior and explore the grandiose structure (common areas only). At the gate, our car was stopped by Security to check our reservation prior to allowing our entry. After a while, our car was crossing the short bridge that leads to the front of Burj. Parked are Rolls Royce and other luxury cars as if they are just ordinary.

True to my expectations, the interiors are grand and lavish with a futuristic theme of gold and blue. As you enter the lobby, a dancing fountain and aquarium escalator walls ala-Dubai Mall Aquarium greet you. Also from the lobby, the 590-foot atrium is worth checking out. I can’t count how many wow’s, oohs and aahs we let out. Photos could never do justice to the luxurious interior and moreso of how awestruck we were. Everything was just designed and created with opulence and class, if not excess, in mind. 

The Indulgent Afternoon Tea

At the appointed time, we went to the SkyView Bar in the 27th floor via a glass elevator overlooking the Arabian Gulf . 27th floor is nothing short of grandness with the shimmering green and gold passageway leading you from the lobby to the bar. We were immediately ushered to our sea-view table, free from any obstruction while enjoying our tea and the view. Yey! 

The experience started with a glass of Louis Roederer champagne. It was a sight to watch the waitress, poised like she was playing the violin, pour it into our glass flutes…

Then we were served mixed berries with fresh cream…

Then, the waitress explained the order by which the dishes will be served. We were asked for our choices of drinks which was not confined to just their extensive variety of teas. We were surprised to find out that drinks are free-flowing, and we can sample as many different types as we can 🙂 For the chef carving, we got Salmon Wellington.

Then, the goodies came which were served in four-tier stands in the shape of Burj. Looking at the spread, we were surprised with the amount of food before us.

The top layer is a variety of finger sandwiches.

The second layer is composed of mini bruschettas and other goodies. I particularly liked the squid ink bread slice topped with mozarella(?) cheese and tomatoes.

Layer 3 is composed of panna cotta, cake slices and shortbreads.

The bottom layer was sweets! Pastries and macaroons! At this point, we were almost struggling to finish the food. But how can Ms. Sweet Tooth resist? 🙂

The last course served were scones and hand-dipped chocolates served with home-made jams.

We were not prepared with the amount of food that came with our tea. It is not only the drinks which are free-flowing, they also offered to replenish the goodies – to which we happily declined. We were just so stuffed!

Did I think my 395 bucks was worth it? Absolutely. If there was one thing that describes the experience, it is really indulgent! The service was impeccable and cannot be faulted for, which was expected. Food was great (and free-flowing); they may not be the best in town but were fantastic enough to go with the experience. Indulging one’s self sometimes comes with a price tag and once in a while it is good to break the monotony of a simple life being just an ordinary Darna and be Princess Darna 🙂

Are you celebrating a memorable occasion or just want to feel special and experience something grand? Why not take the plunge and create your own Burj al Arab moment?

More information:

1. Reservations must be made in advance by sending an email to or by calling +971 4  301 7600. Credit card details are required at the time of booking although the card will only be charged in case of no-show or same-day cancellation.

2. Dress code is smart-casual.

3. While photography is allowed at the manager’s discretion, video-recording is prohibited to respect the privacy of the diners.

4. Indulgent Afternoon Tea at the SkyView Bar is offered between 13:00 – 18:00. The first seating is at 13:00 and second seating is at 16:00. The 16:00 timing is recommended if you wish to view the sunset from Burj.

5. Burj al Arab Website:


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