Getting inside the Burj Al Arab is a must-do for all who set foot on Dubai’s sand, whether a tourist or a resident. You can’t come here and fail to check out Dubai’s first truly iconic building, the desert city’s answer to the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building, the ‘world’s first seven-star hotel’ (though many dismiss this as hyperbole, arguing that hotel rating systems have a five-star maximum. Spoil sports).
However, unless you have Dhs9,000 to spare for an evening in one of the Burj’s cheapest suites, finding a way over the bridge to that man-made island, where the sail-shaped structure towers regally with an air of ‘I’m very important, and you’re not’, could be a bit tricky, right? Well, no actually. The cheapest way to walk inside is a visit to the Skyview bar.
All you need is a willingness to drop Dhs275 per person while you’re there – a requirement of being allowed in – and immunity to vertigo. The bar is set on the Burj’s 27th floor, suspended 200 metres above sea level. Put simply, it’s that sticky-out bit that isn’t the heli-pad.
So, is it worth the dizziness and the dirhams? The answer’s got to be yes. The Burj Al Arab is famed for its garish interior, as though the designers exhausted all of their taste on the majestic exterior and went a bit mad when they got inside. The Skyview bar is no exception, decorated with a squiggly ’70s-esque carpet and light fittings that possess all the subtlety of Las Vegas.
But it’s an enjoyable kind of kitsch, and once you’re settled with a cocktail and can take in the views – the best in town until the Burj Dubai is finished – things start to feel very luxurious indeed. Staff are incredibly attentive, treating you like the millionaire you’d like to be mistaken for, even though it’s clear you’re in the hotel’s version of the cheap seats.
The beverage menu is extensive, although the prices ensure there’ll be no trouble getting shot of that Dhs275. But what else would you expect? You come here for a taste of ridiculous opulence, a look at a lifestyle you usually only see on TV, and the ability to say, ‘The Burj Al Arab? I’ve been in there.’ The Skyview bar delivers on all three.