There’s only one hotel in the world that offers a truly luxurious experience, and that’s the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. But just how luxurious IS luxurious?
Technically speaking, there’s no such thing as a seven-star hotel – international bodies will only award hotels with up to five stars (some organizations, like the AAA, award hotels with diamonds instead of stars). There isn’t even a six-star rating. And yet the Burj Al Arab in Dubai is regarded as the first and only seven-star hotel in the world – unofficially, of course. Officially, it “only” has five stars, a rating that only the world’s best and most luxurious hotels are awarded with. Even the hotel’s management company, Jumeirah Group, doesn’t use the seven-star description they’ve been lauded with in their marketing efforts which, according to a spokeswoman, emerged when a British journalist visited the hotel on a pre-opening press trip. In the journalist’s article, she described it as “above and beyond anything she had ever seen and called it a seven-star hotel,” and it just kind of stuck.
But just how luxurious is the Burj Al Arab exactly? Just what made that journalist laud the Burj Al Arab a seven-star hotel?
Well, put it this way: it was the first hotel in the world to offer a butler service for every single one of its 202 duplex suites when it opened in 1999. And get this: it employs the largest brigade of professionally trained butlers than anywhere else in the world with a fleet of 1,600 stewards attending to your every need during your stay. In other words, there’s a butler-to-suite ratio of 8:1.
Still not impressed?
(I mean, seriously. There aren’t just one or two but eight butlers to a room here, and if that really doesn’t constitute as grounds for being impressed in your book, then I really don’t know what will).
Fortunately, however, the Burj Al Arab has plenty to boast about, like the fact it’s the third tallest hotel in the world at 1,053 feet. It’s also one of the most expensive hotels in the world: staying here will put you back about $1,400 just for a night – and that’s in the smallest and cheapest available room!
So, what exactly makes this “seven-star hotel” the ultimate destination for the luxury vacation many of us only ever dream about? What makes it the luxury hotel of all luxury hotels?
A Luxurious Welcome
Your luxury vacation at the Burj Al Arab begins with a rather luxurious welcome. Whether you arrive in your own private car or in a taxi, you’ll immediately “retreat into a state of privacy in an environment of spectacular elegance and sophistication.”
After you’ve gotten over the fact you’re standing in an impressively 590-foot-tall atrium, a dedicated butler will check you into your room (in your actual room, of course), help you unpack, and will even shine your shoes, all while you enjoy a complimentary bespoke fruit basket, Arabic sweets and dates, and a bottle of wine or grape juice.
Meanwhile, if making an entrance is kind of your thing, the hotel can help you arrange the entrance of the century, one that won’t be forgotten any time soon. For just AED 10,000 (about $2,725), you can choose to arrive by helicopter straight from the airport (plus AED 1,500, or about $410, for every additional passenger). The seven to ten-minute journey offers a breathtaking birds-eye view of the city and a truly unforgettable experience. If, however, you and heights don’t do well together, you could instead opt for the equally luxurious white Rolls Royce Phantom airport transport (rates start from AED 900, or about $245, depending on the season).
A Suite Fit for a King
You don’t have to be royalty to stay at the Burj Al Arab (you only have to be rich, really), but you’ll certainly feel like it – especially if you’re planning to stay in the $24,000-per-night Royal Suite, blissfully located on the 25th floor of the self-described most luxurious hotel in the world.
Each of the hotel’s 202 suites is a luxurious duplex room – we use the word “room” lightly; a better word for choice would be “palace” – but the Royal Suite is quite something else: it perfectly demonstrates why the Burj Al Arab belongs on every list of the ‘most expensive hotels in the world’ it’s ever been featured on (usually in the coveted top spot).
The palatial 8,395-square-foot suite is Dubai’s answer to Buckingham Palace. Spanning two floors and filled with plush carpets and pristine furniture, it features everything you could possibly dream of (in your most luxurious and gold-covered-everything dreams). From a majlis-style lounge to full-size Jacuzzis (one in each of the suite’s two master bathrooms along with separate five-head rain showers), the Royal Suite simply oozes elegance and sophistication.
A library, a cinema room, a personal in-suite elevator, downstairs and upstairs bars, a private dining room for 12, and two large dressing rooms are just a handful of the many luxurious things the suite boasts. It also features a small office area, two 20-inch iMacs (gold-plated iPads are also available for the duration of your stay), a range of 32- and 42-inch widescreen interactive HD TVs, a remote-controlled environment (including curtains, lighting, music, and TV), Hermes toiletries, and a selection of 14 types of pillows that can be selected from a menu. Oh, it also comes with a rotating bed – because why the hell not?
From the moment you enter your room, your dedicated butler will guide through everything you need to know (the induction process is a reputedly long one) and will grant your every request and satisfy your every need during your stay. Want a Ben and Jerry’s cookies and cream cheesecake ice cream? Consider it done. Want tickets to the opera? They’re already booked. Want to dispose a body? Okay, maybe not every request but they will provide you with a fresh supply of gold-leafed chocolates every time you step back into your private palace, so that’s got to count for something.
7-Star Amenities for a 7-Star Hotel
In addition to the gold-plated iPads and rotating bed found in the Royal Suite, you’ll also be able to enjoy luxury outside your room. And if you thought you could only enjoy panoramic views of the City of Gold in your private palace, think again – even the fitness and spa facilities, which are located at the hotel’s marina (yes, it even has a marina), provide views that can, quite simply, take your breath away.
Meanwhile, there are a total of nine restaurants and bars throughout the hotel, each focusing on a particular cuisine, be it Arabic, Fareast Asian, or modern European. The Scape Restaurant & Bar, which is located on the hotel’s 100,000-square-foot terrace (which, by the way, was built in Finland and then transported to Dubai by sea), is one such place, extending over the Arabian Gulf. Another option, and perhaps the most famous, is Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara. It’s located underground and patrons can not only enjoy delicious seafood dishes but also a floor-to-ceiling aquarium filled with colorful bright fish (the Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara is currently closed and set to reopen in October 2016).
But that’s not all. The hotel also houses a collection of lavish (and obviously expensive) designer shops (some of which stock the famous gold-plated iPads, for those interested), the Sinbad’s Kids Club (which features a spacious playroom, a large plasma screen showing The Disney Channel, and a variety of board games, books, and computer games), and let’s not forget the Wild Wadi Waterpark (where guests enjoy complimentary unlimited access). Oh, you can also hire out your dream car like an Aston Martin, a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini.
So, to answer the question we previously posed (how luxurious is the Burj Al Arab exactly?): very.
Have you ever stayed at the Burj Al Arab? Tell us all about your stay in one of the world’s best luxury hotels in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with family and friends who are currently planning their own luxury vacation to Dubai!