Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thanks Sian!

So, I had afternoon tea at the Burj yesterday. You know, the world’s only 7 star hotel. It’s funny – the first time I saw the Burj, on my very first day in Dubai, I actually squeaked with excitement. It’s absolutely stunning when you get close to it, and being such an internationally iconic building, it is impressive to see it in the flesh.

That was day one. Since then I must have seen it a hundred times. I used to be able to see it from my bedroom window, and I’ve driven past it often. Amazing how quickly one becomes blasé to something so impressive. Oh, there’s the Burj. There’s the Burj again. And again.

But actually paying it a visit, and going inside, well that’s quite an experience. To get to it you actually have to drive across a bridge. Or, of course, land on the helipad on the roof. As I am not a rock star, and hate helicopters (Maggie, remember New York 2006?!), I went for the taxi across the bridge option.

Before you’re allowed across the bridge, your taxi has to pull up at a welcome centre. Here a very nice man checks your booking reference number before you’re allowed in. Well, it keeps the riff raff out. And there was plenty of that – if you are old enough to remember ‘Bros-mania’ or even the scenes when Take That descended on the BBC in the height of their fame, then you can imagine the kinds of crowds that are at the gates. A LOT of tourists taking photos and videoing. (maybe Bros/Take That were actually inside….?)

Across the bridge you then go. The taxi driver, who has clearly done this a thousand times and is not even vaguely impressed, slows down so you can ooh and aah and hang out of the window taking photos. (I have no shame.) We pull up next to a fleet of white Rolls Royce/selection of Ferraris, and other sports cars which I cannot name but look expensive. It feels a bit like being in an MTV base video. A team of staff greet you and you sail inside.

The reception is vast, jaw droppingly gorgeous, if you like the gold and flashy look. How is there any gold left in the world – surely they have purloined it all for this hotel! Up some escalators, pasta lot of fountains, past boutiques selling very expensive diamonds, bags, clothes – and the world’s most expensive mobile phone. (700k of your British Pounds, if you’re interested.)

Into a panoramic lift which zooms up the side of the building at a very rapid rate and delivers you into the Sky bar – that’s the sticky out bit at the back which is level with the helipad at the front. If you’re a fan of afternoon tea at the Lowry, then you’d love this. The food is in a similar vein, lots of gorgeous little treats, sandwiches mini buns, pastries, caked, scones, chocolates. And of course, tea and champagne. I realized very early on that the tight trousers I was wearing were the wrong choice! Elasticated waist next time…

All of which is consumed whilst watching speedboats below, helicopters landing on the helipad, and general people watching in the bar itself. A mixture of tourists and locals (that’s us now, bizarre!) and some people who could have been famous or were just acting like they were.

After a very pleasant 3 plus hours (well it would have been foolish to rush off without a cocktail) we reluctantly left. A golf buggy took us back across the bridge to a taxi – well you can’t walk anywhere after all that food! As a pathetic attempt to curb the excess of the afternoon I did 20 laps in the pool later on.

Sian, we love you, thank you so much!

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