Located on a manmade island 280m off Jumeirah Beach, Burj Al Arab (meaning Tower of the Arabs) is a luxurious hotel that is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. Measuring 321m, the hotel was opening in 1999 and was designed to resemble a ship's sail. Reportedly the world's only 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab offers the ultimate in luxury featuring a 180m tall atrium, a fleet of white Rolls Royce cars, dancing fountains and touches of gold leave everywhere.
The iconic nature of the building sees it dominate the Dubai skyline and its designer, Tom Wright of WKK Architects, has compared it to Sydney's Opera House, London's Big Ben or Paris' Eiffel Tower. Designed to make a statement and become synonymous with Dubai, the building resembles the sail of an Arabian water vessel know as a dhow. A vast 'mast' creates the intersecting point for two 'wings' which open out into a V formation. The space between the wings is where you'll find the massive enclosed atrium.
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Although the exterior of the hotel is exceptionally impressive, many visitors can't help but want to see the inside. Unfortunately the only way to do this is to book one of the very expensive rooms or make a reservation at one of the equally expensive bars and restaurants. The hotel offers 28 two-storey floors with 202 suites, the smallest of which measures 169 sqm while the largest reaches 780m². East meets west in the Burj Al Arab accommodation which features elegant white columns and mosaic tile accents in the bathrooms. The Royal Suite ranks 12 on the list of the world's 15 most expensive hotel suites at a whopping US$18,716 per night.
If staying here is out of your price range but you're willing to splash out on a night out, the hotel features two restaurants. Al Muntaha (Arabic for 'Ultimate' or 'Highest') offers excellent views of Dubai and sits 200m above the Persian Gulf, suspended by a full cantilever that is accessed in a panoramic elevator. Al Mahara ('Oyster') features a large saltwater aquarium and offers entry via a unique simulated submarine voyage.