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Review: Burj Al Arab, Dubai – “the world’s most luxurious hotel” (Part 2)

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This is the second part of my review of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

Part 1 of my Burj Al Arab review is here if you missed it.

Butler service

The hotel promises butler service. It doesn’t exist.

This is the butler desk outside our room. In theory we shared this person with the other seven rooms on the floor:

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

In reality, over the three days we were in the hotel, I saw this desk occupied a grand total of once.

Some other random Burj Al Arab shots …..

Before I head outside, here are some more OTT interior shots. This is the restaurant where a terrible a la carte breakfast is served (on our first day we waited an hour for the food, which arrived either cold or in miniscule portions) which also acts as a bar in the evening.

This is a PR photo, which doesn’t show the astonishing view as you are virtually on the top floor here:

Burj Al Arab review Dubai

Here are the lifts on our floor:

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

and:

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

This is taken from outside our room:

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

Facilities

Here is the odd thing about the Burj. Until a couple of years ago, it had no real facilities of its own.

It has no dedicated beach. It shares part of the beach of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel next door, which is reserved for Burj guests and ‘executive level’ guests at Jumeirah Beach. It is quiet but not exactly high class.

On the other side of the approach road is a new beach club called Summersalt. This is accessible to guests of Jumeirah’s Al Naseem hotel, Burj guests plus anyone else willing to pay. This IS classy, but as children are not allowed in for lunch I didn’t get a proper look. If you go as a couple I would stick with this.

Of course, you can also use the other 2km (not a typo) of beach which Jumeirah controls. Cross-charging is allowed across all of their hotels. This also means, of course, that booking the cheapest room at Jumeirah Beach Hotel gets you the same beach and cross-charging privileges as staying at the Burj for many times the price.

The new beach deck

To address this, a couple of years ago the Burj built a large deck in front of the hotel. Since this is built over the sea it was a trickier job than you would think. Here is a PR shot:

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

The Burj now has its own beach club, albeit with no beach. This is NOT exclusive to hotel guests as they appear to sell memberships. It is fair to say that, over the weekend, it looked like the sort of crowd you would expect to see on Sir Philip Green’s yacht. Once the weekend was over it became far more pleasant.

The decor of the beach deck is utterly, totally different to the hotel. It is very classy.

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

and

Burj Al Arab hotel review Dubai

Along with the pool at Four Seasons Athens (which is a beach resort, despite the name) it is about as close as I have got to being transported back to the jet set age of the 1950’s.

I can’t comment on the hotel restaurants because most were still closed. We ate our evening meals at Madinat Jumeirah next door, being whisked around by golf buggy.

Guests get free access to the Wild Wadi water adjacent. Whilst this saves £200 for a family of four, this is a perk you get at all of the Jumeirah hotels so it is not a reason to specifically stay at the Burj.

Conclusion

A review of the Burj Al Arab cannot have a meaningful conclusion. It operates in its own little world, and you either want to try it or you don’t.

Putting on my Mr Logical hat, it may make financial sense for a family compared to booking two connecting rooms at one of the other five star Jumeirah resorts.

Apart from that, you would stay because you’d done everything else. Because you are bored with hotels where you don’t get a mirror over your bed, or a grand staircase in your room, and you are relatively ambivalent about the cost.

Don’t stay here for a high-service experience. If you are on a special trip with a loved one, get down to the Four Seasons. (EDIT: comments below suggest that recent developments nearby mean the FS is now less pleasant than it was. Perhaps Mandarin Oriental or Bulgari are better choices now.)

Don’t book in if you have to scrimp and save to get the money together because it’s not worth it unless you get a deal like ours and it isn’t ‘special’ enough for that sort of treat.

There is no scenario under which I would have stayed here for more than a couple of days. I also don’t think that I would go back unless it was cheaper than two connecting rooms elsewhere.

I’ve ticked it off the bucket list though, and I don’t regret doing it for what we paid. It was good to do something a bit daft to end 2020. It also means I have a bathroom of Hermes toiletries at home to keep me going until the shops re-open …..

If you are thinking of booking Burj Al Arab, you may be able to get a lower rate than the Jumeirah website by contacting Emyr Thomas, our luxury hotel booking partner, via this page. The rate he obtained for me was almost Dhs 1,000 per night lower than the cheapest online rate.


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Comments (86)

  • Simon says:

    Stayed there around 13 years ago when service was really on point. Had heard it is due to close for a year for a complete internal refurb after the dubai expo but presume this has been delayed. Personally Four Seasons every time for me. We don’t even consider anywhere else anymore.

  • M alam says:

    When I visited end of 2018, there was butler there and service was amazing.
    I think you went at a time where there’s less people and hotel really not operating at its usual.
    Maybe after this virus is gone it will go back to normal

    • Rob says:

      Do note, though, that after we left the price jumped to £5,000 per night for a standard room (Christmas week) and you still wouldn’t have had a butler.

  • Ivo says:

    Interesting review Rob. Great to read but not for me though. Not in Dubai, but if you want a mirror above your bed… we stayed at Alkoclar La Boutique Hotel in Turkey in 2008 and they had the same – huge mirrors above the bed. It had great service as well.

  • RajBad says:

    Thanks for the review
    I have to say this does not appeal to me
    FS in my eyes does more for their guests for a fraction of the price

  • Alan says:

    Thank you for the interesting review. I regularly fork out for expensive trips but would genuinely not want to stay at this hotel even if was £100 a night – mortifyingly tasteless. An example of something that’s considered desirable simply because it’s expensive rather than actually being good. Many businesses rely on people going for something reassuringly or aspirationally expensive in order to validate their identity and because they have no other measure to decide class. I see it with colleagues all the time, from wine to watches to restaurants – going entirely on price to determine quality rather than having any sense of discernment.

    • Rob says:

      To be fair, you would stay there at £100 if the other beach hotels were £500 per night 🙂

      I accept that, if travelling alone or as a couple, you don’t actually NEED 170 sq m. If the price were the same as a decent room in one of the beach hotels I’d probably do the beach hotel too.

      I think anyone who turned down a chance to stay there for 1 night on a deal no worse than a deal elsewhere would be a bit of a curmudgeon though!

      • Alan says:

        I always end up paying for something larger than strictly needed, so i’m with you there. Interesting for the experience too, as you say. My post was partly in mind of just seeing a friend’s new 10k watch, and it’s a bit ugly, though of course I wouldn’t let on!

  • Alan says:

    Useful review, Rob – massively unimpressed with it, especially the appalling service for the money. Clearly they’ve got enough folk with more money than sense happy to pay at full whack rates for tacky decor, none of the promised service and rubbish food. Can think of much much nicer places to stay for that sort of money!

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