Simply walking into the Burj Al Arab is a sign of prestige.
In its 21-year-long history, it has been famously inaccessible to anyone who is not a hotel or restaurant guest. This meant that unless you were willing to shell out some serious cash, your access to the hotel was restricted to tourist-friendly snaps from nearby Kite Beach.
Not only has that policy increased its exclusivity, it has elevated global curiosity regarding what’s within the world-class hotel, dubbed the "world's first seven-star" property and often considered one of the most luxurious in the world.
All that changed earlier this year when Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts launched Inside Burj Al Arab, an immersive, 90-minute tour at the hotel, in October. Not only can you now step foot inside the hotel without being a hotel or restaurant guest, you can also explore its most exclusive spaces.
This includes the Royal Suite, which I am guided to after a buggy ride and a trip up to the 25th floor via gilded lifts.
Most hotel suites are lavish, sprawling spaces, but nothing really prepares you for a visit to the Burj Al Arab’s. The suite that’s part of the tour doesn’t even resemble a hotel residence, but the interior of a mansion, gilded and sprawling. It’s spread across two floors, with so many gold elements that it’s hard to take it all in at once.
The lower sections feature a living room to one side, and a dining room and library to the other. What connects the two is an intricate staircase, with 24-karat gold plating, under a 24K gold-plated ceiling.
Don't feel like taking the stairs? Fret not, there’s a private lift – naturally.
One of the best aspects of the tour is the fact you are guided by butlers who go out of their way to make you feel like you’re in the lap of luxury. From offering to assist in any way, to sharing lesser-known facts about the room, it’s VIP treatment all the way.
That’s how I find out I’m walking into the same living room that has hosted the likes of Nelson Mandela, Justin Bieber, Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton, Selena Gomez and some of the Kardashians.
The space is a burst of colours, plush textures and geometric patterns. The hotel’s interiors have been inspired by the four elements – fire, water, wind and air – I am told, and a lot of the decor reflects that, from fiery reds to soothing blues.
Be sure to stop and revel at the gold-plated television.
Upstairs there’s a separate bedroom for him and her. The master bedroom features hand-stitched gold from one of the best fabric houses in Europe on the walls, a TV on the ceiling and a revolving bed. It's useful when you don't want to get up, so instead spin around to check out the Dubai skyline views from the windows, the butler tells me.
Attached to this room is the most gold-laden bathroom I have ever seen, thanks in part to unique golden marble on the walls – the "last of its kind", I am told. Other highlights are the marble bathtub and the toilet that comes with its own remote control.
Across the hall, the other bedroom is another sprawling space, done up in pink. A majlis seating area that can easily seat 20 is followed by another bedroom with a mirrored ceiling. The adjoining bathroom is designed in white and black as opposed to glittering gold, but you really can’t miss the shower, which features 24K gold-plated tiles, or the gold-plated taps.
Downstairs, the dining room reveals a spectacular circular table, while an adjoining library presents more ostentatious photo opportunities around every corner.
The second part of the tour explores the Experience Suite.
While the Royal Suite has been designed to give visitors an inside glimpse into the lives (and luxuries) of the wealthy, the Experience Suite delves into the hotel’s history, architecture and technology. This encompasses stories about the architect Tom Wright’s early inspiration for the shape of the hotel and a showcase of the uniforms, to name only two elements.
Inside Burj Al Arab ends with a visit to the store for those looking to pick up a souvenir. By this point, I’ve gotten very accustomed to this level of grandeur. The world outside simply isn’t gold-plated enough.
Inside Burj Al Arab takes place daily; 9.30am-8.30pm; Dh249 per person, groups of up to 12; insideburjalarab.com