Even entering the Burj Al Arab is a sign of prestige.
In its 21-year history, it is well known that it has not been accessible to anyone who is not a hotel or restaurant guest. This meant your access to the hotel was limited to tourist-friendly snaps of nearby Kite Beach unless you were willing to spend some serious money.
This policy has not only increased its exclusivity, but also piqued global curiosity about what to find in the world-class hotel, which has been dubbed the “world’s first seven-star hotel” and is often considered one of the most luxurious in the world will.
All of that changed earlier in the year when Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts launched Inside Burj Al Arab, an immersive, 90-minute tour of the hotel, in October. You can now not only enter the hotel without being a hotel or restaurant guest, but also explore the most exclusive areas.
This also includes the Royal Suite, to which I am taken via gold-plated elevators after a buggy ride and a trip to the 25th floor.
Most hotel suites are lavish, expansive spaces, but nothing really prepares you for a visit to the Burj Al Arab. The suite that is part of the tour doesn’t even resemble a hotel residence, but rather the interior of a villa, gilded and expansive. It’s spread over two floors, with so many golden elements that it’s hard to take it all in at once.
The lower areas have a living room on one side and a dining room and library on the other. What connects the two is an intricate staircase with 24-carat gold plating under a 24-carat gold-plated ceiling.
Tired of climbing stairs? Don’t worry, there is a private elevator – of course.
One of the best aspects of the tour is the fact that you will be led by butlers who will go out of their way to make you feel like you are in luxury. From offering to help in any way to sharing lesser-known facts about the room, it’s VIP treatment.
So I find out that I am entering the same living room that Nelson Mandela, Justin Bieber, Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton, Selena Gomez and some of the Kardashians were guests.
The space is an explosion of colors, plush textures, and geometric patterns. The hotel’s interior was inspired by the four elements – fire, water, wind, and air – as I am told, and many of the decors reflect this, from fiery reds to soothing blues.
Be sure to stop and indulge by the gold-plated television.
There is a separate him and her bedroom upstairs. The master bedroom has hand-sewn gold from one of the best fabric houses in Europe on the walls, a TV on the ceiling and a swivel bed. It’s useful when you don’t want to get up so instead turn around to take in the views of the Dubai skyline from the windows, the butler tells me.
Attached to this room is the gold-laden bathroom I have ever seen, thanks in part to the unique gold marble on the walls – the “last of its kind,” as I am told. Further highlights are the marble bathtub and the toilet with its own remote control.
Across the hall, the other bedroom is another spacious room that is decorated in pink. A Majlis seating area with 20 seats is followed by another bedroom with a mirrored ceiling. The adjoining bathroom is done in white and black in contrast to glittering gold, but the shower with 24-carat gold-plated tiles or the gold-plated faucets cannot be overlooked.
On the ground floor, the dining room features a spectacular round table, while an adjoining library offers more eye-catching photo opportunities on every corner.
The second part of the tour explores the Experience Suite.
While the Royal Suite was designed to give visitors a glimpse into the lives (and luxury) of the rich, the Experience Suite explores the hotel’s history, architecture, and technology. This includes stories of architect Tom Wright’s early inspiration for the shape of the hotel and a display case of the uniforms, to name just two.
The interior of the Burj Al Arab ends with a visit to the store for those who want to buy a souvenir. In the meantime, I’ve gotten used to this level of size. The outside world just isn’t gilded enough.
Inside Burj Al Arab takes place daily; 9.30am-8.30pm; Dh399 per person, groups of up to 12 people; Insideburjalarab.com
Updated: November 22, 2021, 3:53 a.m.