Although the structure was finalized quite recently, in 1999, during its relatively short lifetime the Burj Al Arab came to enjoy the same fame that world-renowned historical landmarks do. For Dubai, the Burj Al Arab is what the Eiffel Tower is for France and what Big Ben is for England. While the exterior of the Burj Al Arab expresses an ultramodern architecture and vision, the same cannot be said about the interior, which is an interesting blend of both occidental and oriental elements, a gentle passageway between tradition and the present.
Literally meaning the Tower of the Arabs, Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s most luxurious hotel, commonly referred to as the only 7 star hotel in the world, although it is officially classified as having five deluxe stars. One of the most spectacular buildings on the planet, renowned for its height and postmodern architecture, it managed to redefine the meaning of opulence. Even though it is no longer the tallest building in Dubai, surpassed by the Burj Khalifa, the tallest in the world, it remains the symbol of the emirates.
Rising 1,053 feet above the ground, the Burj Al Arab was designed by American architect Tom Wright, while its exterior is the work of designer Khuan Chew. Built on an artificial island, only 918 feet away from Jumeirah Beach, it is connected to the mainland through a private suspended road. Construction began in 1994 and was finalized in 1999. At that time, it was the tallest building in the world. Nevertheless, the Burj Al Arab is still the tallest building in the world used exclusively as a hotel, and currently the third tallest building in the world.
More than 230,000 square feet of cement and over 9,000 tons of steel make up its structure. It took no less than three years just to make the foundation because it was raised off the shore, 230 concrete pillars, stuck in the sand 131 feet deep, were required in order to sustain the foundation built from massive rocks and concrete. The total cost of the Burj Al Arab reached a jaw-dropping $1.6 billion.
The sail-shaped building is striking to say the least. Resembling a traditional Arab boat called “Dhow” with sails up, it is home to the largest atrium in the world, rising 590 feet tall covered in 26,246 square feet of 22 karat gold leaf and 78,740 square feet of marble. In the middle, a huge water fountain splashes water up to 100 feet high. The balconies opening to the atrium are brightly colored in different shades and shaped like scales, symbolizing the evolution of colors in the deep seas, from tints of green to light yellow.
The Deluxe Suites
There are 202 luxury duplex suites which spread across 26 floors, each floor with its own reception. While presented with their room, which is in fact a large apartment, guests are served with the finest dates. Stretching on two floors, covering a surface of 557 square feet, each deluxe suite offers quite a swaggering design and is decorated in warm colors. Each has its own lobby, a bedroom, a bathroom, and living room, equipped with air conditioning and large glass walls overlooking Dubai’s coast, internet access, and non-stop personalized butler service. The bathroom is dressed in marble, has its own jacuzzi, and gold fittings. Suites come in five price levels, but even the cheapest still has two floors. One standard night in a Burj Al Arab deluxe suite costs between $2,000 during the off-season (summer) and $3,000 during season (winter/spring).
The Royal Suite
While Burj Al Arab’s deluxe suites sound fabulous enough, the Royal Suite on the 25th floor is 2,559 square feet and you need to drop $18,000 to spend one night in it. The price includes the services of a heliport, airport transfer in a Rolls Royce, access to Assawan Healthclub, as well as access to the undersea restaurant. The two-bedroom suite offers two king size beds, two bathrooms with their own jacuzzi, internet access, private elevator, and private cinema. Luxury was never the same after Burj Al Arab’s Royal Suite was inaugurated.
There is a total of eight world-class restaurants and bars in the Burj Al Arab. Bab Al Yam and Junsui are the only two restaurants in the hotel that serve breakfast, while Al Mahara is the top rated among all. Al Mahara is the underwater restaurant, serving seafood specialties, with expansive glass walls overlooking the aquarium. This restaurant also made it in the top 10 best restaurants in the world list. Al Muntaha Restaurant is 656 feet high, overlooking Dubai, the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail or afternoon tea. Al Iwan serves international and Middle East cuisine, while Majlis Al Bahar is located on the beach of the Hotel and serves Mediterranean cuisine. There are also a swimming pool with Poolbar and a cafe-restaurant.
Facilities and services
It may be the world’s most luxurious and tallest hotel, but it is the excellent service in itself that earned Burj Al Arab its fame. Despite the fact that the hotel is a tourist attraction in itself, the operators care for their customers privacy and intimacy and have created a security system that keeps the crowds of tourists away from the interiors and restaurants, unless they have made reservations. Plus, all visitors must comply with the dress code. Men are not allowed to wear shorts or T-shirts, while women are not allowed in short skirts, tiny tops, or exposed cleavage.
In addition to the eight restaurants and bars, the hotel takes pride in its 4 swimming pools, an Assawan spa with jacuzzi, spas, and beauty parlors on the 18th floor, a fitness studio, squash field, and the Wild Waldi Water Park.
Skyview Bar and the World’s Most Expensive Cocktail
At the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab, access to Skyview Bar is only permitted if you are staying at the hotel or if you dine at one of the restaurants. Overlooking the entire emirates, dominated by Burj Khalifa and Atlantis The Palm, having a cocktail 656 feet above sea level is priceless.
Burj Al Arab is not only known for its incredibly expensive rooms, but also for owning two world records: the most luxurious hotel in the world and the most expensive cocktail in the world. So, if you have $9,000 to throw down the drain, you can spend them on a cocktail mixed by Salvatore Calabrese, the world-leading drinks expert, made from ingredients that are more than 200 years old. In 2012, this particular cocktail broke the record previously owned by the same Skyview Bar, the Burj Al Arab Cocktail which cost “only” $5,000.
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