The building of Burj Al-Arab put Dubai on the map. The hotel has triumphed since its opening in 1999, and its curved exterior has been featured on the covers of numerous design magazines. Sheikh Mohammed wasted no time in exploiting the furor created by Burj Al-Arab, with well-funded advertising campaigns intended to woo the world. Designed by Thomas Wills Wright of Atkins Group, the metal and glass structure that is perched on a small, artificial offshore island posed several engineering conundrums for its constructors.
The graceful curves, designed to mimic wind caught in the sails of a dhow, are beautiful and unique, but it's the interior of Burj Al-Arab that's caught the notice of travelers. It is said to be the world's first 7-star hotel, but its owner (Jumeirah Hotels) insists that it's only 5-Star Luxe—the highest possible quality under the current rating system.
Inside the hotel is one of the world's tallest atriums at 590 feet. A sumptuous decor designed by Kuan
Chew of KCA International blends rich blues, reds, and greens with acres of gilt. Head to the Skyview Bar for exceptional views of the coastline, including Palm Jumeirah and The World. Even if you don't stay here, come for lunch, tea, cocktails, or dinner; however, you must have proof of a confirmed reservation at a restaurant or bar in order to gain admittance (no exceptions).