Return to the Maldives: Tea at the Burj al Arab, Dubai

Trip Report Index:

  1. Introducing and Strategy
  2. New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, Etihad First Class
  3. Park Hyatt Dubai
  4. Touring the Burj al Arab
  5. Tea at the Burj al Arab
  6. Abu Dhabi – Male, Etihad Business Class
  7. Male – Kaadedhdhoo, Maldivian and Transfer to the Park Hyatt
  8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
  9. Kooddoo-Male-Abu Dhabi, Maldivian and Etihad Business Class
  10. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
  11. Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf – London, Etihad First Class and British Airways Club Europe
  12. London Heathrow – San Francisco, British Airways New First Class

Our hotel media rep dropped us off at the Skyview bar, where we identified ourselves to the desk. We were the third reservation there, they found us on the little slips of paper at the desk. It was important to us to be on the early side (and we arrived about 10 minutes before our booking) because they seat people in order of arrival — and we wanted a table by the window. Now, there are plenty of tables by the window but about half a dozen are really prime where both guests have views of the water, while many more tables are more densely packed with only one person looking out directly on the water while the other has their back facing it.

Since we were early we were asked to have a seat. I took the opportunity to peak into the gift bag we were given by the hotel. By way of full disclosure, they gave me a bag with a press kit on the hotel, a red box of fortune cookies, and Hermes something-or-other that I’ve honestly long forgotten (since I don’t think I brought it back with me).

At the appointed time we were invited into the Skyview bar to be seated. The room is difficult to describe, thank goodness I have pictures! While the colors are different, just like the Royal Suite photos in the last section of this report it’s colorful and busy, although it feels like it belongs to a different era. I don’t know whether the comparison holds water, but it feels very 1980s cruise ship to me. (Maybe that’s because the last time I was on a cruise was… oh, nevermind.)

Since we arrived early enough, we got a prime seat right at the window looking out at the beach and coastline.

The view was fantastic, though I thought it would be better if the windows weren’t so dirty, no doubt it’s difficult to get up there to clean but it did detract just a little bit.

There were menus on the table, and we were brought hot towels and dates to begin.

The tea costs 450 AED, which is about US$122. That includes all you wish of each of seven courses — except that you are allocated one glass of champagne only — if you want another glass of Louis Roederer Brut N.V. it’s another 150 AED (US$41..!!! That’s what a bottle costs in a U.S. bottle shop).

A glass of champagne is a wonderful way to begin, at the top of the Burj al Arab looking out at the gorgeous view.

Service began and always seemed rushed. Everything was pre-plated, probably for quite a long time, and the wait staff carried everything around, enough for several tables at a time. They did come around asking us if we wanted anything more, although several times I had to flag them down to request to try another tea, I also tried the hot chocolate which was wonderful (second only in recent memory to Angelina’s in Paris). I ordered a cappuccino, and it arrived with gold flecks in it. When our table ordered a second one it was delivered… without any gold. I jokingly said something about it (I wasn’t complaining, I was amused, and I can’t imagine that it affects the enjoyment of the cappuccino!) but the staff must have overheard because minutes later they returned with a replacement cappuccino and an apology that the first one was missing the gold on top!

All of the food was perfectly fine, though nothing was especially standout. The desserts were mediocre, the mini-crème brulee had actually broken from sitting so long and I didn’t feel comfortable eating it. Still, it was overall enjoyable and it was a lot especially if you wanted more than one serving of anything.

And the tower was impressive – in some ways reminding me of Lufthansa first class service, although their tower was shaped like the hotel itself which is so very Burj al Arab, over the top yet at the same time attention to detail but the server was carrying three at a top which meant that she just ‘plopped it down’ on the table and moved quickly on to deliver the next one to the table beside us and the next to the table beside that one without stopping to engage.

We finished up with sorbet, followed by petit fours delivered with the bill.

Everything was over-the-top, enjoyable as an experience, and well worth it for the theatre of it all (but it was much more Fat Duck Restaurant than it was El Bulli). I was a little disappointed in the food, there was plenty but none of it memorable. It was all about the presentation and the place and that you were at the Burj al Arab.

On the way out of the hotel I stopped down in the gift shop to purchase a baseball cap — both a momento and functional, because I’d be heading to the Maldives and hadn’t brought one with me, it seemed advisable to wear one out in the sun especially if we were going to head out onto the water by boat (which you do for the airport transfers there but also I had plans to fish, etc).

We walked out front, there were cabs waiting and we took one back to the hotel. On the way out, once past the hotel gates, there were still plenty of tourists taking pictures from afar.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well if we’re going for picky then may I point out I think you meant ‘peek’ rather than ‘peak’ 😛

    Seriously though thanks for these TRs, really make great reading!

  2. OOOH this post came just in time! I’m planning a trip to the Dubai and I wasn’t sure which dining option in the Burj would be the best to pick to see the hotel. Would you do the tea option agin? I’m also considering just dining along their beach so I get the view of the building (and then go inside for drinks afterwards). Thoughts?

  3. Fantastic. Now I know where we are having tea next time we are in Dubai. I assume the bill was equivalent to what one would pay at the Savoy or Claridge’s in London?

  4. Whoops: I see it— 450 AED. Perhaps 1.5x the top London tea. Thanks for this detail in the report, Gary. I’m enjoying this report immensely.

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