Be ready to enter a world of unwarranted opulence, over the top exuberance and a crazy clash of the most flamboyant colours. The Burj al Arab is by no means your average quietly elegant hotel.
The hotel was built to resemble the sail of a dhow (typical wooden boat used by the locals). Two "wings" spread in a V to form a vast "mast", while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium. The architect, Tom Wright, received a very specific brief: to build something that would become as iconic as the Eiffel Tower or Sydney's Opera House. The result is nothing less than any of the world's greatest contemporary monuments and it is safe to say that the Burj al Arab is THE symbol of a fast-moving, brash Dubai.
The hotel is an accumulation of various features - from the gaudy entrance based on an underwater theme, to the choreographed fountains riding up in a triangular shape in the centre alongside the escalators, to the breathtaking views. Whatever angle you look at the architecture, it is spectacular. Once inside the 180m high atrium, if you look up, your head starts to spin and you risk losing your balance; in the same way as when you look up at the Eiffel Tower.
The interior designer, Chinese born Mrs Kuan Chew, imagined the interior according to Arab tastes (50% of the customers come from the Middle East). Luxury, grandeur, and vibrant colours set the tone. One thing is sure: you won't be left indifferent.
The sauna, hammam, and Jacuzzi are designed with a section reserved for women and another for men further distinguish the Burj al Arab from the rest. Mosaic floors, wood panelled ceilings, complete with panoramic views from the relaxation room located on the 18th floor, it is an experience not to miss as a guest here. In comparison, the outdoor swimming pool for both genders seems very small. Surrounded by a tiled solarium, there is no view of the surroundings as the area is enclosed in order to maintain the guests' privacy; needless to say the hotel receives a high number of famous guests from all four corners of the globe, from politicians to royalty and show business celebrities. There is also a ladies' only pool.