The World’s First 7 Star Hotel, Dubai
I’ve got on my best smile, but I’m acutely aware that my loose desert safari pants don’t present the type of chic I intended when we check into the Jumeirah-owned Burj Al Arab. I search the ground staff’s faces for judgey looks from behind my large sunglasses. I’m unsuccessful. We’re welcomed by red-lipped smiles in traditional Emirati outfits, cold towels, coffee poured from long-spouted brass jugs and succulent dates. I eat two.
I don’t have to feel out of place with my less than glamourous ensemble for very long, as we’re whisked away, on an escalator that glides past the multi-tiered fountain. The fountain that occupies the bulk of the atrium, spurts colours of jumping water, synchronised in random patterns. Tourists with cameras around their necks gawp and snap away. Women in challenging heels and Italian suits casually browse inside the luxury jewellery stores. Chopard, Bvlgari, Graff, Cartier. My palms get sweaty as my eyes bulge.
I feel like an amateur voyeur, unprepared by the sights around me. A row of spotless golden-doored elevators gleam seriously. We step in and arrive at our floor. I pat my hair hoping that there isn’t a halo of frizziness around my crown. At the very least, I need to be frizz-less at the Burj Al Arab.
Check-in takes place in our humble two storey suite, by a white-gloved butler from Belarus. I was told to expect service on the extreme side of luxurious 5 star.
The rooms are decorated in what can only be described as royal Middle East OTT. It may never be your style, but it’s a joy to try on. I later enquired why everything looked so plush and perfect, considering the hotel has been running since 1999. It appears all the fixtures and soft furnishings, including carpets, are regularly reupholstered or replaced. Custom design, of course.
“What fruit do you like?” he asks, as we stare at the brass platter groaning with possibly every fruit found under the sun. All the produce in Dubai, save for dates and some nuts, are imported. By this stage we’ve been chatting for ten minutes. Our butler has talked us through the remotes, the blinds, the intercom, the pillow menu, his availability to draw us bubbly jacuzzi baths and how the office works (yes, there’s a fully kitted office with Mac and printer in the suite).
“Oh, I like grapes and berries….” I say, not thinking about the consequences, just making small talk and pretending that a room with a white-gloved butler, free French champagne, elaborate boxes of chocolates and pastries and full size Hermés beauty products, is so, so normal. Average, in fact. A day in the life. Just Food and the Fabulous.
“Okay. First thing in the morning I will replace it with only grapes and different berries for you, “he smiles.
My tongue ties. The platter is more than enough for a party of six, let alone two. I know of countless 5 star establishments that don’t even bring out the standard four-fruit plate. Also, I’ve been eyeing the mango greedily.
Besides, by early morning, we, and the three other members of the media invited on this trip, will have stuffed our scruffy suitcases with all the Hermés products, and possibly the plush slippers too, and scooted our groggy selves into one of the hotels’ chauffeur-driven white Rolls Royces, airport-bound.
There would be no time for a platter of grapes and berries. But perhaps, time for a 5 am Vine video to record that, I, did in fact stay in this architectural wonder that soars above the Persian Gulf, a symbol of a powerful ancient Arabian dhow and a modern society created with money, tenacity and willpower.
I eat the mango, prudently covered in tissues, held above over my faux-leather bag and nod my head to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who owns Dubai Holdings, that owns Jumeriah. The beloved Sheikh had the forethought to plan, that when the oil does eventually dry up, there would be much more left in Dubai to still attract wonder, and a playground of visitors.
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in conjunction with DTCM SA & Definitely Dubai who hosted me on a Tastes of Dubai tour. As always, all views expressed here are my own and Food and the Fabulous retains full editorial control. I was a guest of the magnificent Burj al Arab as a result of this trip.
Rates start from $1850 (R19 550) per room per night.
All images here belong to Food and the Fabulous