Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The little t guide to… Holidaying in the Emirates (Part 4)

There are a handful of hotels in the world that consider themselves  a class above the international  5-star recognition.  The overachievers of the hospitality world, they scoffed at the offering of a standard 5 gold stars. What?  Only 5?  I say.  Preposterous.  Instead, a decision was reached that they were at least two stars better than their highest competitor.  The jury is out on how many 7 star hotels actually exist (partly because the extra two stars are self-awarded).  Let’s go see two of them and make up our own minds!

1. The Burj Al Arab, Dubai

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) sits on an artificial island jutting 280m out from Dubai’s coastline .  The architect responsible for the project, Tom Wright, worked under a brief to create an iconic landmark for Dubai and that he did.  The building was designed to resemble the sail of a dhow (a traditional Arabian vessel) and has become an emblem for the city.


If you’d like to stay here, it would set you back (on average) about €6000 per night.  The Royal Suite (below) costs €21,000 per night. This kind of money gets you things like access to a chauffeured Rolls Royce fleet and a private butler.  And pretty much anything else you ask for, I imagine.



Even if you intend on a short daytime visit, be prepared to pay for it.  When you’re making your reservation, there are a number of ridiculously- priced options available.  I’ll admit I hesitated before booking their famous Sky Tea- an overindulgent Afternoon Tea served on the 27th floor.

skytea burj al arab

I put it to vote and the unanimous verdict was that if we didn’t go, we’d always wonder… and we could always offset the cost by spending the following day chilling on the beach with a packed lunch.  It’s all about balance.



While browsing pictures of its interior, you might find yourself wondering (as I did) what the designers were smoking when they put it all together.  It’s futuristic, like something from Star Wars and I’m not sure that I even like it.  One thing is certain: you won’t have seen anything quite like it in your life:


The 600ft atrium in the lobby is the tallest in the world and covered in 24kt gold.


The hotel also features a large seawater aquarium.  Diners at Al Mahara seafood restaurant can experience a unique 3-minute submarine ride from the hotel lobby to the restaurant entrance.


Just an average meeting room

tennis court burj al arab


Even though I’m sure we won’t get to see the hotel’s helipad, I should mention that two of my favourite tennis players, Agassi and Federer shared a friendly game on it- just watching the video makes me shaky (it’s ver-ry high up)!


2. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

emirates palace8

Next on our 7-star agenda is the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.  This hotel cost over €2 billion to build.  €2 billion!  I’ll just allow you a moment to let that sink in.

emirates palace3

Set on a site of 100 hectares and the building itself spanning about 1km from wing to wing, the Palace is big. It’s big and it’s gold.

emirates palace1

Everything you see is gold.  The lobby is covered in gold.  The suites are furnished with gold.  The toilets are gold- have you ever peed in a gold toilet? You should. It’s awesome.

goldtogo atm

There is even a gold ATM dispensing real gold nuggets. This is not a joke. The kitchen uses 5kg of pure edible gold every year for decoration, mainly on deserts. Yes, we eat gold here in the UAE.

emirates palace11

As with the Burj Al Arab, you can’t just show up and expect to be let in.  Off the street.  You need to make a reservation first- even if only for a cup of gold coffee.

gold coffee

Handy tip (that I intend on using):  You don’t even have to honour your reservation, just making one will get you past the security gates and allow you to snoop around!*

emirates palace7

emirates palace9

(See Part 3 of my guide to the Emirates here!)

*This works at time of publication- don’t say I told you!


Elly @ Caribbean Living said...

Are you kidding me?! A submarine to get to dinner?!

Ha, I have to set eyes on these places sometime, I'm not quite sure I believe you reading about them... :)

Johanna said...

You're killing me with these pictures! Makes my little trip to FL look so boring. HA!

fluff and fripperies said...

Have you been for your afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab yet? My mum went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. But isn't it sad that after all the money you spent on the building, you're not even sure that you like it?! xo

little t said...

Johanna, I've seen your pics- nothing boring about Florida!

No I haven't been yet Emma- I know I'll love the experience, it's only the decor I'm not sure of.

hello, Friday said...

OMG! heavenly! It all look so wonderful and perfect. xoxo

Ashley said...

WOW! Can we say "extravagant?!?"

Style, She Wrote said...

What a great guide! I love these hotels and the sweets look delicious! xo style, she wrote

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Looks luxurious!! I want to play tennis on that thing, would be marvelous!! xx

em.me.ma said...

woow.. i'm ready for vaca now!

little t said...

Imagine a game up there! I'm pretty sure it was a once off thing though.

Mikko Tyllinen said...

very beautiful article! amazing pictures!

Valentina said...

OMG Sweden is so cold, this looks amazing!

Valentina de Pertis