Sunday, 24 May 2009

Afternoon Tea at the Burj-al-Arab


Despite driving past the Burj-al-Arab at least once a day for the last DSC0257418 months, we finally went inside!  You can’t just stroll in – you have to have either a hotel reservation, a restaurant booking or be invited!

We had family in town, including Great-Grannie, so really couldn’t think of anywhere more appropriate and more refined for such a lady.

We booked afternoon tea!

Why hadn’t we been in before?  Well, at 375Dhs a person (£70 per person), it has to be for something pretty special.  But fortunately, we had collected enough points through previous stays at its sister hotel, to get the whole lot for free!  That always makes me smile!

So, here are some photographs of the inside and some facts about the building itself.  Named Burj-al-Arab, meaning Tower of the Arabs in AraDSC02003bic, it stands on an artificial island 280m out from Jumeirah Beach.  It is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge – you have to go through security before being allowed to cross the bridge.

Needless to say, it’s rather expensive to stay here – I think that rooms start at the US$1000 a night, which probably suits some people’s budget, but not mine!

DSC02004Inside, it’s all rather brash with a lot of gold and swirly patterns.  Not really very restful and tranquil in my view, although I’m sure some would disagree!  You can see here in the picture of the atrium looking towards the top, the garish decor.  Here is the fountain in the lobby.


The tea itself was very nice.  7 courses in all, which includes a glass of champagne, sandwiches, salmon-en-croute, scones, sorbet, fruit, followed by French pastries and petits fours/chocolates.  Here’s where I get rather picky – I was looking forward to a French pastry, but I got a stick of shortbread that resembled the size of a Cadbury’s chocolate finger.  DSC02007Since when is shortbread a French pastry?  I was expecting an éclair or a tartlet . . . . I was specifically served one piece of shortbread, by a delightful lady with a platter and serving tongs!  No more, just one!  When the chocolates arrived, there were four of them for four of us.  Shockingly tight.  Yes, we had eaten “enough” but at £70 a head, I want the DSC02011works – and if that means two French pastries, then I would like them.  Similarly, a plate of chocolates would have been appropriate, rather than the stingy four . . .  The service was good and attentive, but staff seem to have forgotten, or were never taught, the etiquette of serving from the left and taking away from the right.  Yes, I know this is really extreme, but in a self-awarded 7* hotel, I expect the very best.

After the tea, wDSC02020e took the glass lift right to the top of the hotel to look at the view.  On one side, there was the most amazing view of The Palm Jumeirah – we were so high up that it resembled more of a pop-up book!

Similarly, the marinaDSC02021 was pretty impressive from a distance.  Hard to believe that when we first came to Dubai 10 years ago for a holiday, the marina or The Palm didn’t even exist!



So, my afternoon at the Burj-al-Arab . . . . .  did I enjoy it?  Yes, very much so, but that was probably more for the company than the “exquisite culinary delights”.  I enjoyed being nosy and finally going in the place.  I’m especially more happy since I didn’t have to pay for it.  Had we parted with nearly £300 for the four of us, I suspect it might have stung a little . . . !!!!!


Anonymous said...

hello there....i follow your blog with interest(and also twitter!) as I used to stay in Dubai. When we went to the Burj years ago the afternoon tea was a sort of fill yer boots affair - we came out stuffed - with a carry out cake box!! Changed days.... :)

The Hillman Family said...

Hi - thanks for your comment - what a shame it has changed. I do believe that the cost of the food is miniscule compared to the prices charged and it would win them a lot more custom if they were a bit more generous! Carry out boxes?? One word - fantastic!!! Thanks for stopping by on the blog, Alice

Anonymous said...

I've been now 5 times for afternoon tea, its just for the experience for visitors as I think it is very expensive, like you Tim I find the decor a little garish for my taste - Michelle