It’s time to bring a little glitz, glamour and sophistication to this hap-hazard, accident prone, dopey blog. Let’s elevate. Let’s entertain the #RichKidsOfWordpress (is there such a thing?!). We’ve spoken about scary moments in Marrakech, dubious conditions in Cuba and sexy encounters in Sydney but have you heard the one about the luxury lunchtime? The champagne quaffing and scone scoffing? The one with the helipad and the 24 karat gold plated…. everything…! The story of a masterful, panoramic afternoon tea at the world’s only 7 star hotel? Let me divulge…
For our epic honeymoon of 2015 we stopped in Dubai for a few days on route to Australia (and, eventually, Fiji). We hadn’t much planned aside from the regular Dubai highlights. We’d explore the mall and towering Burj Khalifa, soak up some sun and basically just enjoy some well earned R&R from the beauty of Junior Suite (free upgrade!) at Sofitel, The Palm. We’d done all the usual desert related excursions (quad bikes, camels, bedouins etc) in previous trips to this deserts so we’re keeping ourselves clean and out of trouble for a change.
One ‘must-do’ for our trip was afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab and, my word, what an absolutely amazing experience. For those in the shade, the Burj Al Arab is undoubtedly the world most opulent hotel. Opened in December 1999 it branded itself as the worlds first (/only) 7 star hotel. It’s not far wrong. Gold leaf is everywhere, room rates can start from £1000 per night and if you’re staying or visiting here you will certainly be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s wealthiest people.
Arriving at the Burj Al Arab
At a steep £125(ish) it’s easy to be put off from visiting for tea; however the experience is so much more than just a light lunch. Expect a stuffing of cakes, sandwiches, tea and even a seasonal hot dish. The Burj Al Arab has a closed door policy and entry is only granted to those with a reservation, so booking tea let’s you roam around the forecourt which was simply a must.
As we pulled up at the front door in our hired limousine (not a stretch, just a luxury sedan) we were greeted by a team of tall, white clothed doormen all happy to assist with opening doors. Large smiles, pleasant greetings and directions to the front door followed. These chaps are hired for their size, stature and ability to hold themselves well in the soaring 40 degree heat. No stone is left unturned and the Burj Arab considers every small detail to be essential to the experience; the best of the best is the only option and as such, the hotel brings it’s staff and the world’s finest luxuries from all corners of the globe.
We stepped into the lobby and we were simply amazed. We turned our heads full tilt to take in the Burj Al Arab in its full glory. Faultless. The high ceilings and the shape of the lobby echo the large sail like design of the exterior. Golden balconies adorn the walls that tower above our head and we made our way to the escalator heading for the first floor. All the Gold here is real and the slightest mark will result in the entire object receiving a new, full, 24 karat gold leaf coating. There are no quick or easy fixes here.
The escalator is flanked by a larger than life aquarium and jumping fountains that trickle down the length of the moving staircase. The first floor is home to more fountains, some dark and fancy looking eateries plus a host of designer jewellers… which is great because I often fancy purchasing a £500,000 timepiece after a big lunch.
Time for Tea / High Tea Tips
We make our way through the corridor directly ahead of us to a waiting area. This waiting area besides the elevator is used for guests and visitors attending any event upstairs in the Al Muntaha restaurant. Evening cocktails, two servings of afternoon tea and dinner are examples of occasions you may enjoy here. *TIP #1* I recommend you arrive early as you will be ticked off of a list by the concierge and evetually you will be called to your seat in the order of your arrival. Give it thirty minutes like we did and you will likely be within the first or second group to be taken up to the 27th floor. A short wait and a good nose at the clientele later and our name is called in the second group into the elevators. *TIP #2* When your name is called it is typical for your ‘group’ to rush and clamour into new surroundings. Don’t be a sheep. Think about it for a second… There’s only one door in this elevator. Therefore, the first in is the last out. Play it cool, let the other couples in before yourself. Straighten your tie, tie your shoelace, play with your handbag… anything to be the last person in the lift (in the earliest group possible). That way, when you exit the lift it’ll be you getting your pick of the tables. Boom. Elevated.
We sat down to the best seats in the house.
What To Expect
We sat down in complete awe of the view. The menus were promptly delivered by the maitre-de, who offered us a choice of Champagne. The tea includes one glass however there is an upgrade option for a finer brand.
Our 5 course tea began with Dates (a traditional welcome sweet in the UAE), followed by a delicious White Chocolate ‘Petit Pot’ with Strawberry. Our hot course on this occasion was Duck (note: Not Dogck) Confit Pie with a Foie Gras Cranberry Dressing; I’m not a fan of duck so downed this quickly but it was actually quite tasty; fairly rich and the sauce was sweet enough and tangy enough for me to not think about the duck. Finger sandwiches followed (we asked for no fish) and then we receivd a pallette cleaner of Lychee and Rose sorbet which left us fresh for more of what was to come….x
The next course was home-made scones complete with jam and cream- delicious. This was served on a Burj al Arab shaped tower that also housed mini patisseries, small cakes and lots of fancy little treats. This was the real star of the show. We scoffed our faces and drunk tea until it could be drunk no more. Owing to us having the best seats in the house, we were no stranger to people posing for photographs right by our table – they should have read my High Tea Tips, right? Well lucky for you… you can 🙂
We left before the close of our two hour slot, though you are welcome to stay at the bar for a little longer. Before leaving the staff handed out gifts from the hotel; we each received a Burj Al Arab pen and a small box of chocolates. Owing to it being our honeymoon, The Wife received a darling red rose. That’s right… the first flowers she has received since being a married woman were from another man(!!). A truly unforgettable day.
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this afternoon tea, I can highly encourage you. All the visitors left with large smiles, unforgettable memories and bragging rights for life. There is no afternoon tea experience that can come close to this in terms of quality, service and most importantly; experience. If its a special occasion for yourself or a loved one you can’t do much wrong when looking into booking afternoon tea at Burj Al Arab.
If you’re UK based I would highly recommend catching up on this show: channel4.com/…/the-billion-pound-hotel
WITH THANKS TO:
brando.n (MAIN IMAGE)
What was the most extravagant meal or lunch service you’ve ever received? Ever had a dinner experience you will never forget? Have you ever watched in horror whilst a tall, olive skinned, rich Arabian handed your newlywed a red rose and wished her a lifetime of happiness whilst you’re sweating in 40 degree desert heat, worrying about your bank balance and waiting for the ground to crumble around you? Yeh… no… erm.. me neither…! 🙂
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