Indulging in Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


The Burj Al Arab has developed a reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. It has been described by travel writers as one of the view world’s “seven star” properties. With room rates starting at over $2,000 USD per night, it remains an exclusive place to be. While it doesn’t allow walk in visitors, there is a way of visiting the hotel by enjoying it’s afternoon tea or a meal in one of it’s fine restaurants. We set ourselves up for a visit with afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar, amid spectacular views over the Dubai shoreline.

This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Afternoon Tea at the Burj al Arab, Skyview Bar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

On our last visit to Dubai, we missed out on afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab on our last trip through. Naturally, it was high on our list to try out on our second visit to the city. In a city of escalating costs, The Burj Al Arab have recently increased the Afternoon Tea price up to 580 AED ($157 USD) with a glass of champagne in the Skyview Bar rooftop restaurant. They also had a lower priced offering in the Sahn Eddar lobby bar at 510 AED ($138 USD) with champagne or 450 AED ($122 USD) with unlimited non alcoholic drinks. The lobby bar doesn’t have any water view at all, and doesn’t match the views from the Skybar. If you are going to partake in this over the top experience, I’d highly recommend having tea in the Skybar.

The Burj Al Arab Hotel – Home of the Skyview Bar

Booking an Indulgent Afternoon Tea:

We booked on line via the hotel website. We booked about 30 days in advance and had our choice of availability. We aimed to start the experience right at the start of the first tea time seating at 1 PM – 3 PM in order to get the better window tables. There is also a seating time at 4 PM – 6 PM as well. The Burj Al Arab hotel has recently monetized the tables near the windows at an extra 100AED ($27 USD) per table, which seems like an easy decision if you’ve come all this way.

We had to provide an advance credit card along with a photo identification for the reservation. The reservations were handled promptly and professionally.

Arriving to the Burj Al Arab:

We arrived to the hotel by taxi from The Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina. We had to show a printed emailed reservation slip at the front gate. This was cross checked by a security guard using a wrist attached iPad. There were heaps of onlookers at the front wanting to take photographs of the building. Several (a small busload of) tourists were outside gawking at the whole experience so it’s plain to see why the security screening is enforced. 

Our taxi dropped off at front of hotel where the hotel staff had no issues with us taking photographs. Several guest or house cars were parked at the front, including several Rolls Royces.

Arrival Fountain at the The Burj Al Arab
Valet Cars at The Burj Al Arab
Arrival Valets
The Burj Al Arab Hotel Sign

Inside the Burj Al Arab Hotel:

We entered into the lower lobby and were personally greeted by a host who explained where to go. The lower lobby has a large fish tank as a feature. The lobby was a bit of a scene. It was full of tourists gawking like us, who happened to have restaurant reservations. There were indeed quite a number of tourists which was were slightly less than the amount outside. I think this would be expected considering that the hotel is a bit of a tourist attraction in itself.

Lower Lobby at The Burj Al Arab
Fish Tanks on the Escalator Ride to the Upper Lobby
Dancing Fountaints – As one does in a seven star hotel
Reverse View to the Lower Lobby

We self led ourselves up the escalators to main lobby. A lot has been said about the décor of this property. Although it’s not personally to my liking, I can understand the challenges in decorating a property that needs to make a statement and to have its guests remember the experience. The Burj Al Arab does that in spades.

Upper Lobby – The Burj Al Arab
The Outlandish Lobby at the Burj Al Arab
Lobby Restaurants

The building itself is hollow as there is a large atrium, making it able to see almost to the top floor inside the cavity of the structure. All the hotel rooms appeared to face the water. There was also the Sahn Eddar lobby bar, which faced the land side and vehicle entrance. There were also several interesting water features.

Looking Up: The Inner Lobby Atrium
Views of the Lobby from the Elevator Access
Resort Views from The Burj Al Arab

Arriving to the Skyview Bar:

The Skyview Bar at the Burj Al Arab is situated on the seventh seventh floor of the hotel. Given the expense of the tea, I was keen to get us a window seat in the Skyview Bar. We approached the visitor access elevator to the Skyview Bar at 12:30 PM and was turned away. “Come back at 1 pm.” It’s worth noting that the early tea is at a set 1 PM reservation time. We returned to the lobby and waited around. We returned to the elevators at 1245pm, explained the aim to get a seat by the window and were permitted access.

We rode up an outside elevator up to a very small holding area that was the reception for the restaurant. We were held here along with everyone else until a few minutes after one o’clock. We were then seated in order of arrival. A bit of an amusing experience as many people just walked into the restaurant thinking that they own the place and the staff do their best at frantically keeping people to hold in the reception area. Do these people really think that twenty people are standing around waiting here in the lobby just for fun? (Laughing). There was one Chinese woman who arrived and walked in without listening to any instructions. Within about 2 minutes, they had a staff member speaking to her in Chinese to prevent her from wandering about the restaurant. Overall, it was quite impressive on how Jumeriah dealt with the situation professionally and sensitively. In the end, it seems she had gotten lost from her tour group, which shows you how exclusive this place really is (or isn’t).

Lobby of the Skyview Bar
Reception at the Skyview Bar

Eventually, we were led to our seat. We were fortunate enough to be seated near a window, which is really best part of the whole experience. On our visit, the restaurant was configured with 6 seats on the right hand side (East facing) of the restaurant that has double seats angled outward at ninety degrees with both seats faced toward the window. With the other tables of two in the north side of the restaurant, one sesat faces the window and the other seat faces inward toward the middle of the restaurant. If you want a window facing seat where both of you are facing the window, make sure you get there early as the restaurant only had 6 tables for two that were configured this way on the east side on the date of our visit. 

The Bar at the Skyview Bar – The Burj al Arab
The Setting for Afternoon Tea at the Skyview Bar
A White Piano at the Skyview Bar
The Seating Area of the Skyview Bar

The Indulgent Afternoon Tea Menu:

As mentioned earlier, the Afternoon Tea set menu was offered at 580 AED ($157 USD), including a glass of champagne. Since we’re on the topic of price, there was no mention of included gratituity but there was a spot for it at the end of the bill. I thought it was a bit over the top asking for gratuity on a set menu $400 bill without it being included. Most places I’ve experienced at this price point have it included. There was also a live classical piano playing music throughout the service. 

Afternoon Tea Menu – Part I
Afternoon Tea Menu – Part II

Afternoon Tea – a six course affair:

The service started with Louis Roederer Brut NV champagne and some “off menu” fresh welcome dates.

Louis Roederer Brut NV and welcome dates
The Table Setting for Afternoon Tea at The Burj Al Arab
Views of the Dubai Skyline from the Skyview Bar
Skyline Views
The Burj Khalifa as seen from The Burj Al Arab

We had peek-a-boo views of the Palm Jumeriah in the distance…

Views of the Palm Jumeriah

As the food service got underway, our first course was a berry tart. 

A Berry Tart
An elegantly placed first course

Followed by the Chef’s Carvery of the Day. Today was Roast Beef served with mashed potatoes. It was perfectly cooked at medium rare.

Chef’s Carvery of the Day: Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes

The third course was an etagière of finger sandwiches and soft buns. All were tasty with delicate unique Middle Eastern spices and influences.

The fourth course was a second etagière of home made scones with Devonshire clotted cream and home made jams. The jams were super tasty and we each quickly found our favorites.

Home made scones with Devonshire clotted cream and home made jams

Part way through the festivus of food, the champagne had gone down awfully well. We had to indulge in another drink. MrsWT73 had a Cosmopolitan, where as I had a Tom Collins decorated with a rose petal.

For the fifth course, we enjoyed a lychee and rose sorbet, along with a choice of teas. 

Lychee and Rose Sorbet
Afternoon Tea and Lychee and Rose Sorbet

Of course, things wouldn’t be complete the visit without take away chocolates.

Take Away Burj Al Arab Chocolates
Beautiful Chocolates to Conclude

Overall, the food was very good but not of excellent quality. The service matched this as being very good but a bit “assembly line” in nature. For example, many dishes were brought on on etiagères and it would be common for staff to bring out more than one etagière on their arms, rush through the explanations of the dishes holding the other etagiere at an awkward angle, then move directly onto the next table to repeat the process. One would expect that at a hotel of this caliber that the service would have been the top of the class. Needless to say, I was expecting a little bit more at this price point. I happened to mention this in a after the fact e-survey and received several apologies from the hotel property. 

The two hour service was taken leisurely. As can be expected, it was too much food. The best part of the experience was the view and the pleasure of a dining in a unique experience and atmosphere. It’s best reserved for a special occasion. If you are coming, aim to arrive early for one of the better tables. Those on the inside were not as enamoured with the view as we were, and left much earlier.

My Closing Thoughts on Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab:

There are travel attractions around the world that fall into the category of “I’m happy I did it”. The Burj Al Arab fits into that category quite nicely.

While the Afternoon Tea itself was exceptionally pleasant, it wasn’t over the top memorable. The memorable portions of the visit included the over the top lobby, the indulgent views from the Skyview Bar, and the concept of eating in one of the world’s most exclusive hotels. The setting was lovely and the food was pretty divine. Initially, I thought that while we enjoyed the experience, we’d likely never be back. Now, with the passage of time, I actually look back on this afternoon as a memorable travel occasion well worth celebrating.

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