As you might find out researching a destination like Dubai, there are a multitude of things to do and attractions to see. Unless you have maybe a month and deep, deep pockets there’s no way you can fit everything Dubai has to offer in one trip. For a twice in a lifetime trip like this (because we plan on going back someday) I wanted to make sure that we did some of the more amazing activities one can do in Dubai (while on a budget, of course). So before I had a chance to book our accommodations and determined what Mrs. West and I were going to do during our stay I contacted a friend who had gone previously with his partner. My friend gave me some very excellent advice that contributed to our amazing trip, but two of his suggestions were truly remarkable. The first was to visit the Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel.
The Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel located on an artificial island and connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The hotel offers suites only accommodation, in-room check-in, a private reception on every floor, a personal butler for every room, and a 24 karat gold iPad. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It also has a private beach and a helipad (for those days when you don’t feel like going through traffic in the Maybach). The hotel is the epitome of luxury, and as such rooms here start at just over $2000 a night. Needless to say, since one night here costs more than our entire hotel stay during our visit, we did not experience the full Burj Al Arab effect. We did the next best thing since we were ballin’ on a budget: we had afternoon tea!
I’d like to set the mood a little before I tell you what it’s like to have the most magnificent afternoon tea in the world. The hotel Meka and I stayed at is in Deira, which is a twenty minute drive from Jumeirah Beach and the Burj Al Arab. We took a town car from our hotel to Jumeirah Beach, where hotel staff flagged our car down. You see, no one is allowed past the bridge to the hotel without a reservation at the hotel or one of its restaurants. Since yours truly booked a reservation a month in advance, we got a courteous “Thank you Mr & Mrs. West. Enjoy your afternoon.” Then we were waved on to the hotel as honored guests.
We passed by these shops, since we weren’t here for $100,000 watches, and made our way past the main elevators to the special elevator in the back for guests of the Skyview Lounge. Again I let them know that Mr. West and his lovely wife would be joining them for tea. The lift was mostly glass and offered us a panoramic view of Jumeirah as we traveled up to the Lounge. I told Meka I felt like Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and being a fellow book lover she agreed. We were giddy with anticipation for our afternoon, since we were already floored by our surroundings without stepping foot in the restaurant yet.
When we got to the Skyview Lounge, we were treated like royalty. Our hostess asked us about our day, where we were from, and gave us a brief tour of the restaurant before leading us to our seat by the window. She asked us if we were celebrating anything, and my wife replied that “we were celebrating love.” Once we were seated our waiter introduced himself and explained the seven courses we were to be treated to, starting with some fine champagna. Of course, in the Skyview Lounge, they don’t pour champagne like they do where I come from. Here, the waiters hold the flute at arm’s length and the bottle perfectly horizontal in a brilliant display of dexterity. Back when I waited tables at the world famous Natomas Applebee’s, we used to call this sort of thing job kung fu: the skills you pick up in order to make an otherwise boring job more efficient and exciting.
One thing we didn’t know was that afternoon tea here was served Master P style: there’s No Limit! We each tried three different teas, including an English Breakfast, and amazing green tea, and an amazing red rooibos tea. In addition, the finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries that were served on a nice little carousel were constantly refilled. Had we known this was such a feast I think both of us would have skipped breakfast. Because of camera issues I didn’t capture every course, but Shi over at what shi eats did a much better job than I could have cataloguing the courses and taking photos.
There was so much food! Afterwards we had coffee and hot chocolate, with no rush to leave our table.
This was one of the best experiences of our stay. After relaxing from a food & tea coma we spent the rest of our afternoon just looking at the view and lovingly into each other’s eyes. Then my wife and I took a shuttle to the gold souks on Jumeirah Beach and then back home to gush about how perfect our evening was. Next time, I’ll tell you about our favorite part of our journey. Unsurprisingly it also involves both food and exploring!