High tea at the Burj Al Arab on glitzy Dubai's Jumeirah beach strip, is on every tourist to-do list. With celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Andre Agassi famous for frequenting the 7 star venue, it's little wonder, "When I think of luxury I think of this hotel." Says Claudia Schiffer of the city's iconic hotel.
Inside the dhow shaped building is so exclusive most local residents have never seen the interior, preferring to save such sight for a special occasion. A reservation is required to enter, or a price for the pleasure of foyer perusal. If residents have had the pleasure of dining they were probably wanting to show off Dubai's high life to visiting friends, themselves tourists at the time.
Three restaurants offer high tea, the most popular being Sahn Eddar. This is a first class lounge directly under the world's tallest atrium. Upon arrival, a smiling waiter addresses you as Sir or Ma'am and offers a refreshing glass of Moet or sparkling apple and peach. You will be seated by glass walls with panoramic views of sparkling aqua coastline and find yourself listening to a string quartet serenading diners to classical versions of pop music.
The arrival of absolute decadent afternoon tea begins with crustless cucumber finger sandwiches, pineapple and prawn h'ourderves, a beef carvery serving, followed by light sorbet, then tea selection, English style scones, whipped cream and a divine jam assortment. Yes, you read beef and sorbet mid way there - a good sign when one is required to de-sensitise one's palette, darling!
Not long into the many courses of tea and sandwiches, you will find yourself thanking the existence of the 7th Duchess of Bedford who accidently invented afternoon tea back in the 1840's. She would secretly binge on small meals to bridge the gap til dinner. When the world found out they embraced such a radical idea, and today we have the Burj al Arab to remind us of what a pleasure tea and scones really is.
Your extravagant treats continue with a mixed berry basket, French pastries, chocolates and petit fours and then more tea. A tip from me is to arrive with very empty belly and make no dinner plans, you will be too stuffed!
Whilst in the vicinity a must is to explore the interior of such an iconic building. Whereas a night's stay at the hotel will set you back a fortune, many people opt for high tea just to have a look around. The Burj Al Arab's reputation for tacky glamour precedes the hotel interior; its vibe is definitely elegance-meets-cinema-foyer. But after sussing out the entire building I have decided too much gold and Vegas casino reminiscent foyers are all part of the fun and it just wouldn't be a landmark for Dubai with any other design.
Viewing Time: If you want a sneak peek around go to a 3pm sitting of tea because between 5-6pm there is ‘viewing' time on certain levels and restaurants; Sky View for an amazing aerial over Dubai's shoreline, Swarovski Bar to see spectacular crystal elegance and the famous Fish Restaurant where diners are seated next to a fish tank wall which feels like the bottom of the ocean. Definitely worth a look in!