Enter the Burj Al Arab's towering atrium and you might think you're in a palace, a lavish, undiscovered tomb or some sort of futuristic Star Wars senate chamber. The atrium takes up about a third of the hotel's space and soars 590 feet above the lobby. The lower floors have ocean-blue undersides that fade to an atmospheric light green as they approach the atrium's ceiling -- blurring the line between inside and out. Doors to the suites line layers of scalloped white balconies. Hefty pillars gilded in 22-karat gold stretch up several floors, and gold spandrels leap and crisscross between them. Every half hour, a jet shoots a stream of water 138 feet into the open atrium.The Burj Al Arab doesn't clutter its softly lit atrium with a mundane check-in counter. After a personal greeting and presentation of cool towels, coffee and dates, ushers escort guests to their suites. There, guests meet with a personal butler and privately check in to their lodgings.
The Burj Al Arab has only suites -- two-floor suites with marble staircases, full-size Hermès toiletries and 13-selection pillow menus. The Burj Al Arab's most humble accommodations, a misnomer if there ever was one, start at 558 square feet. They include the luxury features of a five-star's most lavish suites: living room, lounge, private bar, king-size bed, dressing room and Jacuzzi. Guests select their butler-drawn bath from a menu and can pair it with champagne, caviar and strawberries.
But the Burj Al Arab's accommodations only get more luxurious. Two Royal Suites take up the entire 25th double floor. Leopard print, gold and marble swathe the 2,559-square-foot space, and a rotating canopy bed holds court in the master bedroom. A private elevator and cinema lets Royal Suite guests avoid the extremely wealthy riffraff staying in lesser accommodations.
If guests care to venture out of their suites (and they don't have to -- butlers can serve elaborate room service), they have six restaurants and bars to choose from. The under-the-sea-themed Al Mahara restaurant includes a simulated submarine ride and a dining room surrounded by aquariums. Guests can also relax in the tiled spa or head out to Jumeirah's Wild Wadi Water Park to soak up some of Dubai's scorching sun.
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