With its infamous over-the-top luxury and sail-shaped silhouette guarding Dubai, Burj Al Arab has long been one of the most iconic and talked-about hotels in the world. Now 17 years old, the property has a mystical, legendary aura about it, from stories about the time Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played a friendly match of tennis on the hotel’s helipad to whispers of the endless diplomats and royals who have graced the hotel’s 22-carat-gold-lined corridors.
During my recent stay at the hotel, Hussein, one of the Burj Al Arab’s chauffeurs (who has been there for an impressive 18 years), humbly told me how, during his time with the hotel, he’s driven everyone from Michael Jackson to Serena Williams in his white Rolls-Royce Phantom.
But like any legend, especially one that flies the flag for the ever-evolving Dubai hospitality scene, it must change with the times in order to stay relevant. As a result, several projects are currently underway to give this storied property a makeover. Read on to discover what to expect from the Burj Al Arab 2.0.
The North Deck
During my stay, I spent two nights on the 13th floor of Burj Al Arab in one of the duplex deluxe one-bedroom suites, complete with red, blue, and gold interiors, a brigade of butlers, and a full-sized Jacuzzi. The suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows offered views not only of the cerulean-blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, but also revealed a glimpse of the active construction of the hotel’s North Deck, a 328-foot deck manufactured in Finland that will soon provide guests with access to 32 air-conditioned cabanas and over 400 sun loungers. Set to open in early fall, the North Deck will also feature two types of pools, including a 6,587-square-foot fresh-water pool and a 8,912-square-foot salt-water pool.
Chef Nathan Outlaw
I rode a golden elevator down to Burj Al Arab’s Al Mahara seafood restaurant for dinner, where sand sharks and schools of colorful fish mosey through the floor-to-ceiling aquarium around you throughout your meal. Al Mahara, which translates to “oyster shell”, is currently in the business of serving an opulent menu of the United Nations of Fish, from Japanese scallops to Norwegian halibut, at very seven-star prices. Come September, award-winning British chef Nathan Outlaw will join the Al Mahara team, and under his guidance the restaurant’s dishes are set to move in a simple but upscale direction. What’s more, the interiors will be refurbished to reflect a more understated vision for the seafood dining destination.
Gold on 27
One of the most extraordinary things – and that’s saying a lot considering the number of golden iPads and mounds of Beluga caviar available – about staying at Burj Al Arab is undoubtedly the view. As a Dubai resident, I was so used to constantly looking at the sail-shaped structure that it felt incredibly surreal to look out from the landmark itself. With that in mind, the hotel opened a new top-floor lounge on its 27th floor this past April. With a contemporary art-deco design, resident DJ Darko De Jan on the decks, a team of expert mixologists, and unbeatable views, the venue is a fresh addition to the hotel’s current food and beverage offering. What’s more, residents of the city can now make bookings for the lounge via the Gold on 27 app, which will allow you to skip the hassle of the notoriously strict security process currently enforced at the entrance of the hotel.