This is the lobby of the Burj Al Arab. Take a good look at this because it is an (annoyingly but very Dubai) excluuuuuusive view.
We were in Dubai for Christmas and felt pressured to visit the Burj Al Arab. Every single day, there is a mob of people outside the gates of the Burj taking selfies with the sailboat hotel. It is the world’s only 7-star hotel. No one is allowed past the gates unless you live there or have reservations at one of the restaurants. The cheapest option to gain access is to book a seat at the Skyview Bar, which has a minimum of $75 per person. My brother is under 21 so that wasn’t an option for us. The second cheapest option is to have afternoon tea, which is $115 per person around the holidays. Dinner at one of the restaurants is about $300 to $500 per person. We were going to have dinner to fully experience the hotel but I found out that the food quality is sub par. One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for bad food so vetoed the option. Tea is what we ended up going for!
The first of six courses, not including the champagne, date juice, coffee, tea, or petit fours, was the Berry Tart. I came kind of expecting the food to suck, which may be why I was so pleasantly surprised. The tart came on a light, crisp base with a thin layer of whipped cream and fresh berries. It was delicious.
Our second course was an Assortment of Finger Sandwiches. At the center here is smoked salmon, caviar, and quail egg on rye. To the right is a a classic tuna sandwich with mayo on a squid ink and pureed apple bun (did not taste as complicated). Immediately left of that is a small sliver of a roast beef sandwich. Left of that is cucumber and cream cheese on white bread. And finally, a local grilled chicken wrapped in pita.
I remember growing up thinking cucumber sandwiches were stupid, because cucumbers “don’t taste like anything.” My taste buds have since grown more “refined” and I am beginning to appreciate the more subtle flavors, like cucumber. Actually, cucumber no longer tastes subtle. It is sweet, refreshing, and crisp; a really great sandwich filling.
Our third course was the Chef’s Carvery, which was a roast beef with a side of mashed potatoes and fried… somethings. Even though it was beef, I swear it was carved on or with something that had touched lamb. My fatal flaw as a so-called “foodie” is that I really can’t eat lamb. The gaminess kills me. And my sensey taste buds, that loved exploring the subtle flavors of cucumber, could not handle this beef. Sad for me, but it made my brother happy because he scooped the roast beef right up.
Our fourth course was a palate cleanser: lychee sorbet. The sorbet was definitely homemade, as it wasn’t perfect. There were chunks of ice mixed in with large pieces of lychee. It was still deliciously refreshing, but not as smooth as some of the more professional sorbets I’ve had.
Preserves were orange, passionfruit, and strawberry preserves. Our server also brought us some dates and date preserves, courtesy of the chef. My favorites were the classic clotted cream (so light and fluffy, half cream half butter tasting), passionfruit preserves (so tart), and date preserves (very fresh, like mashed dates).
Our server brought us more little cookies to munch on with our tea and packed little gift chocolates and petit fours to take home. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. Even though it was expensive, we were showered with endless food and champagne (all “refillable”) and very attentive, yet not intrusive, service. The manager even came by to say hi… in Chinese. We were thoroughly impressed. But we wouldn’t have expected any less of a 7-star hotel. They even let my family and I played mafia (classy, I know) all afternoon at the Burj.