Researching your destination online before you travel pays off. I discovered the decadent afternoon tea at Burj Al Arab, the iconic, sail-shaped building, taller than the Eiffel Tower, on a man-made island on the edge if the Persian Gulf. It was the only way I could afford to get anywhere near the 7 star hotel.
This isn’t your average up-market hotel, or your average afternoon tea, it starts with champagne and continues through ten courses and as much tea (there’s dozens to choose from) coffee or soft drink as you wish. All surrounded by luxury and stunning views.
I was very glad I’d read the Gourmantic blog about this experience because I would not have thought to bring the printed email confirmation with me otherwise and, as it was carefully scrutinised three times on our way to the 27th floor Sky Bar, that could have been a problem.
We are first stopped at the boom gate across the narrow causeway that leads to the island. After our taxi is waved through and negotiates the jammed driveway, we enter the opulent foyer. Thick velvety carpet, patterned in gold, red and blue echoes the sculptured ceiling, blue walls and splendid, shell shaped gold concierge alcove at each side of the entry. The escalators are separated by a stepped waterfall and flanked by aquariums of tropical fish. It is stunning but I’m not sure weather the glitz is glamorous or just gaudy.
Typical tourists, we take lots of photos. No one seems to mind, I guess it can only serve to promote the famous hotel but a polite sign requests no video, to respect guest privacy.
More gold, blue and red on the first floor. Velvet curtains screen a ballroom on our right. There are all the classy shops and boutiques, including Rodeo Drive. It brings to mind the line from Pretty Woman “if you have to ask how much it is you can’t afford it”.
We pass through the guest lift lobby, more gold, blue and mirrors with its black suited, discreet and polite security guys and find ourselves at a reception desk in the Sky Bar lifts. Again our paperwork is checked by a delightfully warm and apologetic female staff person. All in order, we are given entry to the glass walled lift that zooms up the tower exposing the vast expanse of the Gulf below and luxury resorts along the beach.
Another, reception and another reservation check and we are admitted to the Sky Bar. The decor here is over the top royal blue and deep green and, of course, gold. We are led to a table by the window.
Afternoon Tea begins. Champagne is poured with a flourish and a silver platter of dates appears. The hostess explains the menu then a delightful entrée of mixed berries and cream on a delicate pastry arrives. Our tea orders are taken. You can try as many of the dozens of different teas on the menu as you like, any kind of coffee and unlimited soft drinks are available.
An unusual course for an afternoon tea is next, a mini plate of beef and mash. Then comes a two-tier Burj-shaped stand of sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese on white bread, beef and mustard on brown, smoked salmon on pumpernickel, creamy tuna in a black bun. A second helping is offered before the next stand bearing scones with cream and 3 kinds of preserve, cakes, creme brûlée, and more cakes.
We get up and take photos, and take our time, wrestling between being full but almost unable to resist the tempting delights. Finally, sorbet and petit fours in an elegant box to take away.
I was glad the blog advised not to have lunch or book dinner!
Ann’s blog #11