The building of the Burj Al Arab put Dubai on the map. The hotel has triumphed since its opening in 1999, and its eye-catching exterior has been featured in numerous design magazines. It was said to be the world's first seven-star hotel, but its owner (Jumeirah Hotels) insists that it's only five-star luxe—the highest possible quality under the current rating system. Designed by Thomas Wills Wright of Atkins Group, the metal and glass structure is perched on a small, artificial offshore island. The graceful curves, in classy blue and white, mimic the sail of a dhow billowing in the wind. The interior (designed by Kuan Chew of KCA International) by contrast is a riot of color, gilt, and finery. The atrium in particular is a sight to behold, with 590 feet of rainbow hues and curved interior terraces, tropical aquariums, and dancing water features. If you want to get inside, or even cross the bridge to the burj island, you'll need some form of booking. There are many restaurants with
various offers, Sky Bar or Gold on 27 are at the top and provide the best views, or Scape on the terrace is perfect for some ocean-side dining. For those who want to study the interior, Sahn Eddar serve a lavish afternoon tea in the atrium. Some other Jumeirah hotels (e.g., the Jumeirah Beach hotel) may help you out with a tour if you are not interested in dining.