Dubai is full of iconic structures, many of which have Guinness world records for being the tallest or something-est.
One of the more iconic buildings might just be the Burj Al Arab, one of the world’s most exclusive hotels with seven stars, instantly recognisable by its billowing sail shape.
Having taken five years and over a billion dollars to build, the Burj al Arab has been standing proud on its own private island just off the Jumeirah seafront for 22 years.
The only way for visitors to look inside this legendary hotel has been to dine at one of its restaurants or book an overnight stay, which could cost around $1 500 a night (around R22 000).
Otherwise, the Burj Al Arab experience was likely confined to snapping photos of the structure from the adjacent public beach, notes CNN.
But now, as of October 15 this year, the Burj Al Arab’s “secretive doors are finally sliding open” with a tour for non-guests at 14 times less than the cost of a night stay:
Starting from a new welcome centre, the 90-minute tour begins with a buggy ride over the 340-metre bridge that connects to the private island on which the hotel stands. But there’s a pit stop to make first.
“We noticed that most guests come and stand on the bridge to take photos of the hotel,” says Nicholson. A new platform has been created to let visitors have the perfect vantage point.
On arrival at the Burj Al Arab, after a traditional welcome with a sprinkle of rosewater by Emirati hosts, you enter the cavernous atrium — at 180 metres, the tallest in the world — and the tour proper begins.
Some of the luxuries that guests and now day visitors can experience are:
- Showers embellished with 24-carat gold tiles.
- 24-carat gold ceilings.
- Duvets filled with eiderdown harvested from abandoned duck nests in Iceland.
- Pillow menus.
- 30 different types of marble.
- A ceiling made of 21 000 Swarovski crystals representing the Milky Way.
- Aquariums and lavish fountains.
- A glass elevator that speeds visitors up to the 25th floor.
- And so, so, so much more.
There’s also the headline-grabbing cantilevered helipad suspended 210-metres above the water, where Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played tennis in 2005, David Coulthard drove an F1 car in 2013, and DJ David Guetta played a gig in 2021.
Plus, Zac Efron and Jessica Alba skydived off of it for Dubai Tourism’s new campaign:
Andy Nicholson, general manager and experience director of the tour, called Inside Burj Al Arab, says the hotel is finally allowing public access because:
This year “the spotlight is really on Dubai, and it seems like the perfect time to open up one of the city’s icons to visitors,” he says. “It’s a glimpse of the original home of luxury in Dubai.”
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates and the recent opening of Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.
YouTuber Ben Morris got to stay at the hotel. Take a look:
Inside Burj Al Arab tours begin October 15, and tickets start at AED 399 (around R1 600).