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Burj Al Arab hotel and spa review, Dubai

Sam Lewis explores the shameless extravagance of one of the world’s more famous hotels

The therapy to try
When you visit one of the world’s most famous hotels, you’ve got to try something a little extravagant. Gold tattoos may shimmer (yes, they’re really on the spa menu) but for something longer lasting, try the La Prairie Caviar Body Treatment.

The treatment
It may start with an exfoliation using what’s essentially a fruit (apricot kernel seed) scrub, but it’s followed by a divine full body massage using a hydrating caviar-based lotion infused with botanicals. Treatment rooms are bright and airy and — at almost 500ft above ground — floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of the Persian Gulf, World Islands and downtown Dubai. Music can be tailored to your preference and beds are plump, heated and so comfortable there’s serious danger of falling asleep.

I hate it when the therapist sticks to the book at the expense of the client. This one didn’t and tailored the strength of the massage to my needs, focusing on my problem areas. The treatment also rids your skin of any flakiness and leaves it silky smooth afterwards. Yes, the price tag may be hefty, but the treatment also gives you access to the enormous spa where you can easily spend an entire day.

The spa
If you stay at this hotel and don’t visit the Talise Spa, you really are missing out on one of its most impressive features. One of the few serene spots in the hotel where you won’t find tourists taking snapshots or selfies, it’s also a vast two-level tardis with corridors decked in marble leading to a plethora of palatial rooms housing saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools, gyms, squash courts and relaxation areas. There are separate areas for men and women — which you may or may not prefer — but you can still book a private Romantic Moonlight Swim, where you’ll get to sip Champagne while enjoying use of the infinity pool decorated with roses.

The hotel
Built on sand in the shape of a billowing sail, this hotel’s reputation is as dazzling as its lofty height with views as stratospheric as the price tag. Housing the world’s tallest atrium at nearly 600ft, nine restaurants and five swimming pools, guests get 24-hour butler service, Rolls-Royce chauffeur-driven transfers and breathtaking views over the Persian Gulf. With acres of gold leaf, marble and chandeliers at every turn, this hotel is outrageously opulent with the top suite’s rotating bed ensuring guests make the most of the views. Located adjacent to the water park Wild Wadi (guests get free entry) things have changed since the hotel opened in 1999 and there was a somewhat pokey pool. Today, they’ve extended into the ocean to create a huge decking area, two infinity pools and a fake beach. Open only to overnighting guests (which means you can escape the hoards of tourists taking selfies) there are 32 air-conditioned cabanas and a cool California beach club vibe with butler service to boot.

Positively palatial suites span two floors with sweeping staircases, super king beds with mirrored canopies and a pillow menu with over 13 choices (feather-down infused with vitamin E and aloe vera anyone?). Bathrooms feature walk-in showers and whirlpool baths stocked with Hermès toiletries including ‘his’ and ‘hers’ perfume and aftershave (yes they’re yours to take home). A butler services every floor and will know what you want before you ask for it.

Best for
Special occasions and a one-off splurge — although this isn’t the place for minimalists, or for those seeking privacy and seclusion. Go for the spa, shamelessly extravagant suites and the cool new beach club.


Double rooms from AED 4,490 (£1,007) including breakfast (excluding taxes), with late offers sometimes available. La Prairie Caviar Body Treatment (80 mins) costs AED 1,295 (£284) with other massages from AED 750 (£164) for 55 mins.

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