Continuing on with some of my Middle Eastern Adventure – it’s afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab hotel.
In case you haven’t seen the Travel Channel special (and who ARE you…it’s amazing), the Burj is the world’s first and only 7 star hotel – they said so. Each room comes equipped with a golden iPad. Each room is at least 2 stories and 2,000 square feet. You have to bring your printed out confirmation for meal or hotel room just to get up the driveway – there are plenty of lurkey-loos but they all have reservations somewhere in the enormous hotel. The lobby is – well, let’s just let the photos speak for themselves:
Dancing fountains. A Technicolor atrium with an escalator and gold columns. I think Liza Minelli wept for its gaudiness. A gargantuan tropical fishtank. A multicolored fountain. Aladdin’s coffeeshop? And this little setup – the tea at the Skyview Bar.
An oasis in the clouds where white gloved servers whisk your coat way from you and encourage you to take photos of Dubai’s famous Palm Island from the vast plate-glass windows at your side. Where harp music drifts in and our of your world as you are plied with plate after plate of food and see others without reservations getting turned away coldly.
A place where I almost stole the toilet paper from the bathroom because – come on – when am I going to get back here again?
A place where I so lathered myself in the free amenities that I’m sure that the attendant was rolling her eyes behind my back.
Where the amuse bouche is a buttery shortbread topped with chantilly and a forest of tiny, sweet berries that are bright and juicy as if they were just picked that day.
A place where the lamb comes to a nice, steely gray and the potatoes are little more than mealy mash. So far, the portions are small and the food is unimpressive.
A place where every course is everflowing.
A place where the tea sandwiches are lovely and sprinkled with gold and caviar. The saffron bread is aromatic and the salmon salad is soft and lush – easily the best savory bite of the afternoon.
A place where the tea tower looks like the hotel. Every detail is thought of here, down to the very tea tower that they use.
The surroundings are gorgeous. The service is deferential almost to a fault. The food is…well, it’s meh. And it’s way too expensive, even with a glass of lovely, dry Louis Roderer champagne at the beginning. But it’s the only way to get into the Burj al Arab without ponying up for a room there – that’s right, you have to pay for this rather mediocre tea at a rather extraordinary price just to get inside the gilded gates. And it’s a once in a lifetime experience. And I still wish that I had stolen that cool toilet paper.