Burj Al Arab: Legendary hotel opens to non-guests for first time (2022)

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(CNN) — Showers embellished with 24-carat gold tiles. Duvets filled with eiderdown harvested from abandoned duck nests in Iceland. Pillow menus. Thirty different types of marble. A ceiling made of 21,000 Swarovski crystals representing the Milky Way. These are just some of the luxuries that await at Dubai's Burj Al Arab, one of the world's most exclusive hotels.

Up to now, if you weren't a paying guest at the hotel or dining at one of its restaurants, your Burj Al Arab experience was likely confined to snapping photos of the structure from the adjacent public beach.

But from October 15 this year, the Burj Al Arab's secretive doors are finally sliding open, with a new Inside Burj Al Arab experience promising to offer visitors a glimpse inside, and lift the veil on some of the UAE hotel's intriguing stories.

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For almost 22 years, the Burj al Arab has been standing proud on its own private island just off the Jumeirah seafront, instantly recognizable with its design modeled on the shape of a billowing sail.

(Video) Burj Al Arab: Legendary hotel opens to non-guests for first time

Its cantilevered helipad, suspended 210 meters above the water, has played host to many headline-grabbing events over the years. Andre Agassi and Roger Federer knocked a tennis ball around in 2005. David Coulthard spun donuts in an F1 car in 2013.

In February 2021, with the world in lockdown, DJ David Guetta used it as the stage for his "United at Home" livestream event. And in August 2021, as part of Dubai Tourism's glitzy new campaign, Hollywood duo Zac Efron and Jessica Alba skydived off it.

So why allow public access now? Andy Nicholson, general manager and experience director of Inside Burj Al Arab, points to 2021 being 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.

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."

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Epic opulence

So what exactly will visitors experience when they enter these rarefied spaces? Starting from a new welcome center, the 90-minute tour begins with a buggy ride over the 340-meter 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 meters, the tallest in the world -- and the tour proper begins.

(Video) #Burj Al Arab 7 star hotel.DUBAI NOWBurj Al Arab: Legendary hotel opens to non-guests for first time

Without the context of other skyscrapers flanking the building, it's hard to grasp its scale, but at 321 meters in height it's three meters shorter than the Eiffel Tower (including tip) and 60 meters shorter than the Empire State Building.

The atrium manages to feel modern and retro at the same time, an Arabian Nights-meets-Jetsons setting, with layer upon layer of curves and color shades that become lighter the closer they get to the sky. At the top of the escalators, that glide upwards past twin aquariums, a fountain dances to the rhythms of traditional Emirati dance before shooting a final plume, geyser-like, 42 meters up into the air.

A glass elevator speeds visitors up to the 25th floor (in real terms, the 50th -- each suite in the hotel is spread over two floors) for the main event, a tour of the opulent Royal Suite, after which there's time to explore the interactive Experience Suite, sipping Arabic coffee and learning trivia about the Burj Al Arab's architecture and interiors, as well as the pivotal role the hotel played in the development of Dubai.

Original sketches by interior designer Khuan Chew are on display, as is the napkin on which British architect Tom Wright sketched the first draft of his proposed structure in October 1993.








Building an instantly recognizable icon

The Burj Al Arab is the result of the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. His brief for the building was simple -- to create the most luxurious hotel in the world, a building that would become an icon for the city.

Prior to coming up with the now instantly recognizable shape, Wright considered various symbols of Dubai's culture and history for inspiration. But he came to a clear conclusion -- if the building was to become an icon of a city that was boldly looking to the future, it should not be rooted in the past. Rather, it should be moving forward, and thus the sail-shaped building was born.

It took five years to build the Burj Al Arab -- two years to create the artificial island on which it stands, and three years to build the hotel itself. When originally announced, the location was considered an unusual choice by many due to the fact that it was around 15 kilometers from what was the center of Dubai at the time. But its seaside backdrop on Dubai's loveliest beach is one of the reasons it has become such an icon.

The great indoors

The interior of the Burj Al Arab is perhaps even more jaw-dropping than the exterior. Sheikh Mohammed envisioned an aesthetic inspired by Arabic styles from across the Middle East and given a contemporary interpretation, and instructed designer Khuan Chew to push the boundaries of color and decoration. And push them she did, creating interiors that dazzle with a sense of the theatrical in a space that doesn't take itself too seriously.

"Fun is something that we want to include in the Inside Burj Al Arab experience," Nicholson explains. "The whole building is full of joy with its audacious design and colors, and the new tour picks up on that."

Royal Suite butler Roman Sedev, dressed in a gold tailcoat and white gloves, fully embodies that sense of fun as he opens the doors to the suite with a flourish and a grin, welcoming the visitor into a space dominated by a central staircase covered in leopard-print carpet.

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A superlative space

Whether it's your personal style or not, the Royal Suite is nothing short of astonishing with its no-holds-barred exuberance. The highly polished yellow floor reflects the 24-carat gold ceiling, just part of the 1,790 square meters of the material used throughout the hotel. There's a private lift to take you up to the second floor. And it's on the second floor where things become even more "extra."

"Khuan Chew called the dining room a 'sunburst room,'" says Sedev, pointing to the trompe l'oeil blue sky ceiling dotted with fluffy clouds above a dining table set for 10, sitting on top of a carpet that's like a burst of sunlight. Leopard print makes an appearance again on the high-backed velvet dining chairs, in the cushions in the adjacent majlis room, on the ottomans in the bedrooms, and in some of the carpets.

And it's those carpets that really stop you in your tracks. The attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes into them is extraordinary, each one taking three months to make by hand. And this being the Burj Al Arab, a stain or fray is unthinkable. "We always have an extra one in storage so we can change it immediately if anything happens," Nicholson explains.

Once your eyes adjust to the opulence, the details start to jump out. Golden falcon talons grip the door handles. Walls are covered in silk that appears to change color depending on where you stand, with hand-stitched ladybirds embroidered in more of that 24-carat gold. There's a dedicated team of artisans who come and do repairs whenever needed.

A glimpse into an exclusive world

Now that the doors are open to visitors, is there a chance that the hotel's guests might be a bit miffed to be sharing their space?

"Our atrium is the biggest in the world, and we definitely have space for everyone," says Nicholson. Each group is limited to a maximum of 12 people, and most of the experience takes place on the 25th floor which is reserved exclusively for visitors to Inside Burj Al Arab. In-house guests can take the tour too. "This is a working hotel, open 365 days a year," continues Nicholson, "and the new tour offers a glimpse behind the scenes, bringing to life 21 years of amazing stories about the hotel and its people."

Visitors won't be asked to vacate the premises immediately after the experience, either. A new outdoor lounge, Uma, has opened exclusively for Inside Burj Al Arab, and each of the hotel's restaurants can be booked by non-guests.

You could also just go all out and book yourself in for the night, although with prices starting at around $1,500 a night, it's about 14 times the cost of a tour.

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Inside Burj Al Arab tours begin October 15, 2021, and tickets start at AED 399 (around $109).


Can non guests visit Burj Al Arab? ›

The Burj al Arab is a private resort, and it's closed to non-guests. However, you can visit if you have a dining reservation at one of the restaurants. Afternoon tea is the cheapest way to visit the Burj al Arab. Sky Tea is the only one served in the SkyView Lounge.

What is special about Burj Al Arab hotel? ›

The Burj al Arab Hotel or “Tower of the Arabs,” is said to be the world's only 7-star hotel, and is presently the third tallest hotel in the world. One of the most iconic buildings on the Dubai landscape, the unusual shape of the Burj al Arab Hotel is said to mimic the sail of a ship.

How much is the entry fee to Burj Al Arab? ›


Tickets: AED 249 per adult | AED 99 per kid.

Can a common man enter Burj Khalifa? ›

The very top of the Burj Khalifa is the 163rd floor, however it is not accessible to the public. To get to the top of the Burj Khalifa, you need to purchase a ticket. Your ticket price will vary based on the observation deck you choose and what time of day you stop by.

Is entry to Burj Al Arab free? ›

Entry Ticket for Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Afternoon tea at Skyview Bar in the Burj Al Arab in Dubai costs about AED 650 (INR 12,300) per person. Additional Burj Al Arab entrance fee is applicable to AED 100 (INR 1900) per person for a window table where guests can enjoy the views of major attractions in Dubai.

Can you hug and kiss in public in Dubai? ›

Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon in the great city of Dubai. This would include kissing, hugging, and everything in between the whole nine yards. Even something as simple as someone holding hands with their partner can catch weary eyes from the locals.

What is the dress code for Burj Al Arab? ›

Burj Al Arab is the original home of luxury - Dress to impress! Smart/casual attire. Tailored shorts are allowed. No beachwear.

Why do people go to Burj Al Arab? ›

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks and tourist attractions in Dubai, and is renowned for its 'seven-star status'. The luxury record-breaking all-suite hotel includes a range of fine-dining restaurants, incredible beaches and the expansive Burj Al Arab Terrace.

Is food free in Burj Al Arab? ›

The dinner buffet in the Burj al Arab in the Al Iwan restaurant costs 255 US dollar and includes a private transfer to the Burj Al Arab hotel. When booking you have the choice of various times between 6:00 PM and 9:30 PM.

Is it free to go up the Burj? ›

The entry fee for Burj Khalifa is around Rs 5970.64 per person. While, for general admission, children below the age of 12 years are charged the price of Rs 3222.25 and adults are charged the cost of Rs 3980.42 at the top level and Rs 9951.06 at the top sky level.

How much does food cost in Burj Al Arab? ›

The average Burj al Arab dinner price is around AED 800 per person, excluding drinks. The tasting menu at Al Mahara Restaurant starts at AED 795, while at Al Muntaha Restaurant it starts at AED 1000 per person.

How much is the salary in Burj Al Arab? ›

Average annual salary in Burj Al Arab is INR 34.7 lakhs.

Can I pay to have my name on Burj Khalifa? ›

It typically costs about $67,000 to put up an advertisement or promotional message on the facade of the Burj Khalifa.

Can we take food to Burj Khalifa? ›

A. No food or drinks are allowed in At the Top.

How much is a meal at Burj Khalifa? ›

700 AED per person for normal seat (17.30 – 02.00). Meal Value: 300 AED p.p. 800 AED per person for seat at the window (17.30 – 02.00).

What do you wear to the Burj? ›

What to wear: There is no set dress code for visiting the Burj Khalifa observation deck, so you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in, although it is advisable to dress modestly in Dubai. If you want to dine inside the world's tallest restaurant- At. mosphere, formal dress and smart shoes are required.

Is entry free in Dubai Mall? ›

One can enjoy free entry for shopping and food court inside Dubai Mall. However, there is entry cost for Dubai aquarium located in the mall.

Can I kiss my wife in Dubai? ›

The Dubai code states: “Holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offence to public decency. “Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places, is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.”

Can you kiss in Dubai if you're married? ›

If you are a married couple, the extent of your public displays of affection is limited to hand holding. Couples who are not married cannot engage in any form of public affection. Kissing and hugging in public is not tolerated and couples who are caught could be fined or imprisoned.

Can I kiss my husband in Dubai? ›

According to the code couples, both married and unmarried, cannot show affection in public places. Kissing and embracing out in the open is strictly forbidden. While a married couple holding hands is tolerable displaying affection out in the open is generally not. This rule stands for married couples in the emirate.

Can you wear jeans in Dubai? ›

Skirts, dresses, tops, jeans, etc. anything is allowed. Can tourists wear casual outfits in Dubai? Yes, tourists can wear casual outfits in Dubai.

Can Tourist wear jeans in Dubai? ›

You can wear dresses, t-shirts, tops, pants, jeans, shorts, or skirts. Any shoes are acceptable as long as you're not barefoot. Make sure you are not wearing anything see-through or revealing.

Can I wear leggings to Dubai? ›

Yes, you can wear leggings in Dubai, but ideally not as your only pants. Leggings can be used to cover your legs, especially under short dresses or shorts. If you only wear leggings, it's probably best to wear a very long blouse on top.

Why do rich people visit Dubai? ›

Other factors include success in numerous key sectors including financial services, oil and gas, real estate, travel and tourism, technology, and healthcare, with a first-class healthcare system. In terms of lifestyle, the UAE also offers top-end apartments and villas and world-class shopping malls and restaurants.

Can you walk into Burj Al Arab? ›

So can you get inside the Burj al Arab? The million-dollar question! The hotel is NOT open to walk-in visits from non-paying guests – and don't even attempt it; you will be stopped by security well before you are near the building.

Which is the only 7 star hotel in the world? ›

The only 7 star hotel in the world - Review of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Tripadvisor.

Is eating expensive in Dubai? ›

How much does a meal cost in Dubai? The main dish in Dubai restaurants usually cost around 40 – 100 AED (10-25 EUR). Sandwiches and burgers cost 35 – 55 AED (9-14 EUR). Appetizers and desserts cost around 20-40 AED (5-10 EUR).

How much is food per day in Dubai? ›

The average cost of food in Dubai is around $40 per day. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, you can easily find meals for less than $10 per day if you are on a budget. There are many fast food options and street food vendors where you can get a filling meal for a reasonable price.

Is food free in Dubai Lounge? ›

Our lounges include: Complimentary Wi-Fi. International cuisine with hot and cold beverages.

How much does it cost to put picture on Burj? ›

The cost of placing an advertisement on the facade of the Burj Khalifa ranges from Dh250,000 to Dh1 million depending on how long the projection is up for and the day of the week, according to the rate card from MullenLowe Mena, the agency that manages the building's lighting displays, it has emerged.

What is the rent of one day in Burj Khalifa? ›

The studio is up for lease at Dh1,050 per day, while the one-bed is available on a daily rental of Dh2,800. However, there is no mention of the floor numbers. Rents and price of units in the world's tallest tower vary as per view and floor. “You can save up to 80 per cent on your costs by staying with us.

Can you just turn up at the Burj Khalifa? ›

There are two time slots during which you can visit Burj Khalifa: Prime hours : 03:00 PM - 06:00 PM. In this time slot, you'll be able to witness mesmerizing views of the sunset. Non-prime hours : 08:30 AM- 02:30 PM and 7:00 PM- 11:00 PM.

How much is a meal in UAE? ›

Prices in restaurants in Dubai.
Meal in a cheap restaurant40 AED (20-75)
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course250 AED (150-600)
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)30 AED (25-36)
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)45 AED (25-55)
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)45 AED (35-70)
5 more rows

How much is a cup of coffee in Dubai? ›

2018 Price of Coffee Worldwide
10 more rows
21 Mar 2019

How much money do you need in Dubai per day? ›

You should plan to spend around AED729 ($198) per day on your vacation in Dubai, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, AED164 ($45) on meals for one day and AED38 ($10) on local transportation.

Does Dubai pay good salary? ›

Around 80% of the emirate's population is made up of expatriates, partly because of the high quality of life and the attractive salaries. The average salary in Dubai is AED 21,500 per month, which is equivalent to USD $5,853. The salary of a worker in Dubai is therefore on average higher than in Western countries.

How much is the salary of waiter in Dubai? ›

The average salary for Waiter is AED 1,800 per month in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Waiter in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates Area is AED 8,450, with a range from AED 2,318 - AED 22,080.

Is Dubai salary high? ›

Dubai is the city of opportunity for expats. The tax free salaries, luxury life style and year round sunshine are just some of the major pulls, but so are the salaries.
Highest Average Dubai Salaries By Sector.
ProfessionHighest Average Dubai Salary
Teaching / Education463,200AED
Real Estate463,600AED
13 more rows
21 Feb 2021

Can unmarried tourists stay in the same room in Dubai? ›

According to the law, it's illegal for unmarried couples to stay in the same room during a holiday in Dubai. In reality, this is not strictly enforced and it's unlikely you'll be challenged on it. Many unmarried couples visit Dubai every year without issue.

Can I go to Dubai without hotel booking? ›

Yes you need The basic is Flight and Hotel reservation. It doesn't have to be real though. You can generate these documents there and Also read about all the requirements when apply for Dubai tourist visa.

Can I visit Burj Khalifa on free of cost? ›

Entry Ticket for Burj Khalifa in Dubai

While, for general admission, children below the age of 12 years are charged the price of Rs 3222.25 and adults are charged the cost of Rs 3980.42 at the top level and Rs 9951.06 at the top sky level. For an immediate entry at the top, there is no entrance fee for infants.

Can I stay with my girlfriend in a hotel in Dubai? ›

Based on the aforementioned amendments of year 2000 in the law, the provision of 'indecent assault' has since been removed. Following this, unmarried couples may now live in the same accommodation and cohabit without marriage in the UAE.

Can I book a room with my girlfriend? ›

No, there is no law that prohibits unmarried couples from staying together or checking-into a hotel.

Can 2 male friends share a room in Dubai? ›

You may be arrested and tortured for sharing a bed. The above is not true in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Two males sharing a room is not a crime. Of course don't proclaim that you are gay and in a relationship.

Can you wear shorts to Burj Khalifa? ›

There is no set dress code for visiting the Burj Khalifa observation deck, so you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in, although it is advisable to dress modestly in Dubai.

How much does it cost to show birthday on Burj Khalifa? ›

It flashed a photo of the Spanish model wearing an off-shoulder black dress, alongside the text 'Happy Birthday Geo' in big white lettering. It typically costs about $67,000 to put up an advertisement or promotional message on the facade of the Burj Khalifa.

How much does it cost to post your birthday on Burj Khalifa? ›

The cost is AED500,000 for two three-minute impressions any night between 8 PM and 10 PM and AED1,000,000 for five three-minute impressions any night between 7 PM and 12 AM.

Can a female walk alone in Dubai? ›

Yes, unreservedly. Dubai is considered among the top 10 safest countries for female solo travellers, so there is no need to hesitate before getting that Dubai visa.

How much bank balance is required for Dubai visa? ›

The letter must be signed by ALL partners/owners of the company (as shown in the trade license). b) Copy of Trade License. c) Copy of ALL partners/owners passport and UAE visa page. d) 3 months up to date bank statement of the company (originally stamped by the bank) with a minimum balance of not less than AED 3000.

What happens if you stay in Dubai without visa? ›

You cannot enter without visa in Dubai. If your visa is expired than there will aed 200/- per day fine on you if you go to immigration by yourself. Whereas if police catch you without visa than you will be get deported & banned for the next few years to enter in UAE.

How much does it cost to eat in Burj Khalifa? ›

Cost Of Dining In Burj Khalifa

You may enjoy a breathtaking view of the Dubai Fountain, the Dubai Mall, and the Souk al Bahar from your table. A meal at the Burj Club, which includes a visit to At The Top, costs 83 dollars over 12. Youngsters between the ages of 4 and 12 pay only 76 dollars.


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