Burj Al Arab
This iconic, sail-shaped hotel—which soars 1,053 feet over the Persian Gulf, on an artificial island off Jumeirah Beach—literally epitomizes Dubai’s over-the-topness. And though the property, which was completed in 1999, is ancient by local standards, guests still stop to gawk at the self-professed “seven-star” hotel’s 600-foot-high atrium when they first enter (many do so after arriving via helicopter or chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph limo). The 202 massive suites (which start at 1,830 square feet and go all the way to 8,396) are all bilevel, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows; dedicated butler service; fully equipped private bars; offices with automated everything; and bed linens, furniture, and window treatments upholstered in opulent velvets and satins. The sprawling baths are stocked with full-size Hermès toiletries (other little gifts, like La Prairie night cream and aromatherapy “sleep spray,” arrive in guests’ suites each night). The property’s common areas are equally excessive; of the six restaurants, Al Mahara, serving high-end seafood, is designed to look as if it were underwater, with a huge aquarium and a dining room accessible via simulated submarine ride from the lobby.
Tip: Splurge for a helicopter tour over Dubai, leaving from the hotel’s very own 28th-floor helipad.
Room to Book: At around 3,500 square feet, the Club Suite is hardly the largest here—but it does have both desert and sea views, perfect for gazing at from your dining room (or snooker) table.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.