The History of the Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Discover the history of the most iconic hotel in the Middle East and in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab Hotel
Discover the history of the most iconic hotel in the Middle East and in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab Hotel | © Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo
Judy Cogan

Known for being the seven-star hotel that’s shaped like a sail, the Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dubai, offering off-the-charts luxury. If you are lucky enough to stay here, expect a fleet of matching Rolls-Royce Phantoms, gold-plated duplex suites, Hermès toiletries, a helipad and poolside cabanas with wide-screen televisions at your disposal – with a hefty price tag, of course. Culture Trip takes a look inside.

1. A brief history of the Burj Al Arab


The magnificent Burj Al Arab, Dubai
© Burj Al Arab / Expedia
The Burj Al Arab – translating as “the Arabian Tower” – was designed by architect Tom Wright in October 1993 and the magnificent sail-shaped property was completed by November 1999, just in time for the millennium.

This iconic landmark is up there with the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building in New York. It stands at 321m (1,053ft) high, supported by 250 columns, making it the tallest all-suite hotel in the world. Talking of records, in 2008, the Burj Al Arab broke the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail, valued at AED 27,321 (£5,424) and the world’s largest tin of caviar in 2016.

Privacy is a guarantee because it’s positioned 280m (918ft) from the sandy Dubai coastline on a man-made island with restricted access. As a result, a revolving door of A-list guests have stayed here including Kendell Jenner, Roger Federer and Selena Gomez. It’s a prime selfie backdrop for tourists.

What are the rooms like at the Burj Al Arab?

Did King Midas stay here and run riot touching everything? We don’t know, but everything is dripping in gold; there’s even an 18 karat gold-plated iPad in every suite. Expect king size beds with a 17-option pillow menu, televisions that rise at the push of a button from decorative cabinets and bathrooms with ornate whirlpool tubs, walk-in showers, gold-plated taps and Hermès toiletries. The Royal Suite boasts two master bedrooms, a grand curved staircase, cinema room, full-size snooker table and private dining fit for 12 guests. You also enjoy a private butler who will be at your service 24 hours a day, ready to bring you whatever you desire.

Room interior of Burj Al Arab, Dubai

This opulent hotel boasts a whole hospitality portfolio, but what else would you expect? The world-famous flagship restaurant Al Mahara wraps around a floor-to-ceiling, a 260,000-gallon decorative aquarium filled with fish and serves fancy seafood dishes. The three-starred chef Kim Joinie-Maurin is currently at the kitchen’s helm, having taken over from Nathan Outlaw. On the 27th floor, the SkyView bar offers a decadent afternoon tea, while Sal is a super-chic eatery, serving tuna tartare with caviar, oyster ceviche and lobster linguine overlooking the Arabian gulf. Fancy Asian food? Make a beeline for the Swarovski-encrusted Junsui. Meanwhile, the poolside menus offer upscale lobster rolls and club sandwiches. Needless to say, you won’t go hungry here.

Dining area at Burj Al Arab, Dubai

What are the wellness offerings like at the Burj Al Arab?

The Talise Spa on the 18th floor offers a sweeping infinity pool with wraparound views of Dubai. The spa treatment menu includes the Burj Al Arab signature massage and a Caviar facial, as well as manicures, pedicures and the most luxurious body scrubs. Outside on the Monte Carlo-worthy terrace, enjoy a slew of wellness facilities such as jacuzzis, enormous day beds and a swim-up bar. The hotel has five pools, a private beach and regular yoga classes and paddleboards to book. With a butler at your disposal, it’s funny how quickly stress-levels drop.

Indoor pool at Burj Al Arab, Dubai

What makes the Burj Al Arab stand out from other hotels?

Outside, the terrace was unveiled in 2016 and fans into the Arabian Gulf with 32 air-conditioned cabanas equipped with flat screen TVs, a restaurant and bar and two pools. Also, a lesser-known fact is this hotel has a Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary. Since 2004, over 1,950 turtles have been released back into their natural habitat.

Inside, there’s also a 180m (590ft) atrium as high as the Eiffel Tower, while approximately 1,790sqm (19,267sqft) of 24-carat gold leaf was used to embellish the hotel’s opulent interiors. Fun fact: Roger Federer and Andre Agassi once enjoyed a round of tennis on the 28th-storey helipad.

Luxury interior at Burj Al Arab, Dubai

How to get to Burj Al Arab

Dubai International airport (DXB) is little more than 15mi (24km) away and 25 minutes by car. With the Burj Al Arab being at the frontline of luxury, don’t settle for a standard local taxi to get you there. The hotel can arrange airport pick-ups in a Rolls Royce, Mercedes V-Class or BMW.

A family meets a car at the entrance to Burj Al Arab, Dubai

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Erina Baftiroska.

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