Bling it on: Afternoon tea in the Skyview Bar at Burj Al Arab

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Emirates Lounge London Heathrow (after a surprise!)
Emirates First Class London Heathrow to Dubai
Grosvenor House Dubai
Afternoon tea in the Skyview Bar at Burj Al Arab
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island
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Qasr Al Sarab
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
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Cathay Pacific First Class New York JFK to Vancouver

For those of you not familiar with the Burj Al Arab, it’s the world’s only seven star hotel, whatever that means. When I was in Dubai last year I had afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab. However, I was only able to reserve a table at Sahn Eddar, the hotelā€™s lobby lounge. This time around I was hoping to have afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar, which is located on the 27th floor of the hotel.

We were planning only a couple of days in advance, so I figured we had virtually no chance of securing a table. I sent off an email to their reservations department, and was shocked to receive a confirmation for afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar for 1PM on the 13th, our day of arrival.

The afternoon tea is seven courses and costs 450AED (~$122USD) per person, which must be among the biggest and most expensive afternoon teas out there.

We left the Grosvenor House at around 12:15PM and made it to the Burj Al Arab at around 12:30PM. The hotel is located on a man made island, and there’s no public access allowed. So at the gate you have to show your confirmation before they’ll let you enter.

Burj Al Arab exterior

Hotel exterior



As was the case last time, I found the public areas of the hotel to be a complete spectacle. The hotel guests seemed to mostly either be Middle Easterners or older Russian men with their daughters wives.

Meanwhile there were the people at the hotel just to enjoy afternoon tea, which seemed to be mostly Brits and Japanese people, both of which were taking pictures as if it were a red carpet (hey, I was part of that group too!).




Lobby bar (where I had afternoon tea last time)


After briefly touring the hotel we took the elevator to the Skyview Bar at around 12:45PM and “checked in.” We were invited to take a seat, as our table would be ready shortly. If you’re having afternoon tea at either of the facilities it’s worth noting that they seat tables in order, starting with the best tables by the window. So the earlier you arrive, the better table you’ll get. We were among the first there, so got an awesome table by the window.

The bar is interesting in that it feels more like a cruise ship from the late 90s than the world’s most expensive hotel. Though I guess it does feel a bit gaudy/tacky, which fits in with the theme of the hotel.

Skyview Bar


Our table by the window

Our amazing view for afternoon tea

Our waitress was a lovely lady from Indonesia, and she familiarized us with the menu and explained that we could have as much as we wanted of everything, except champagne, which was an extra 150AED per glass beyond the first one.

Service began with a glass of champagne, which was Louis Roederer Brut. That was quickly followed by an artfully presented berry tart with cream.

Champagne and berry tart with cream

The second course was the “chef’s carvery of the day,” which was some sort of beef with potato.

Chef’s carvery of the day

At this point coffee/tea orders were taken. I ordered both a cup of vanilla infused tea and an iced coffee. They encourage you to try as many as you’d like, so I certainly took them up on that.

While those orders were put in, we were offered a selection of finger sandwiches, each of which was explained to us in great detail. We were offered more sandwiches, though had to turn them down as seven courses is plenty for us. šŸ˜‰

Finger sandwiches

As we finished the finger sandwiches our coffee and tea were served.

Tea and iced coffee

We were then offered a tray of sweets, presented on a “Burj Al Arab” style carrier.


This contained lots of sweets.


And cookies/muffins.


And scones.


Which were served with clotted cream and jams.

Clotted cream/jams

The next course was a lychee and rose sorbet, along with some Christmas cookies.


Christmas cookies

We were also offered a to go box with some more sweets.

To go box

I know the summary seems pretty brief, though this was a roughly 90 minute affair. We were always asked if we wanted more, and the service was great throughout.

I’ve now had afternoon tea at both Sahn Eddar (the lobby bar) and the Skyview Bar, and definitely enjoyed the latter more for the amazing views.

Obviously afternoon tea here is outrageously expensive, and it’s not something you have to experience multiple times. That being said, I think everyone that visits Dubai should make an effort to have afternoon tea here once, as it’s an unforgettable experience.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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  1. I can’t really make out what’s so special about it… (To be completely honest & frank). I don’t really like afternoon tea service itself, even when included in AMEX FHR or Virtuoso bookings. Not my cup of tea, šŸ˜‰ so to speak…

  2. I was in Bahrain one year at Christmas and giggled at the abundance of trees and singing figurines at the airport

  3. @ janyyc — Well if you’re not a fan of afternoon tea to begin with then it’ll be tough to sell you on it (I don’t like roller coasters, so no matter how great one is, you won’t sell me on it!).

    But afternoon tea is the cheapest way to visit the Burj Al Arab, and as far as afternoon tea spreads go it doesn’t get more impressive than this.

  4. The Skyview Bar’s decor reminding you of a 90’s cruise ship is right. Good God. The Encounter restaurant at LAX is more tastefully decorated.

  5. To expands on Al’s question when making the reservations do you get to chose whether you get the lobby bar or the Skyview bar? If so, can you see the availability online or is it more of a guessing game?

  6. @ Papa Smurf — You can specify which venue you’d like. Often one has availability and the other doesn’t. So when I emailed them I was clear to say that I had complete time flexibility, but wanted the Skyview Bar.

  7. 150 AED per extra glass of Louis Roderer Brut? Ouch…. that’s about 40 USD… what I would pay for a bottle at my local liquor store….


  8. There is actually a much cheaper and, IMO, a much better option if you want to visit the Burj Al Arab: Majlis Al Bahar restaurant. It is on the beach. You can visit the hotel and they will take you there when you are ready on a golf cart. My wife and I had dinner there this year and the total was around $150 for both of us. Food was OK, but not spectacular.

  9. @FlyingDoctorWu, yeh I was surprised to see that it was that much. Honestly, I think the $122 isn’t too terrible especially since you get what looks to be a pretty full meal, but that champagne per glass is gouging.

  10. Lucky, thanks for the great report! My next big trip will be Dubai and I definitely look forward to afternoon tea @ the Burj. I thought tea at the Crillon in Paris was nice, but the Skyview Bar is a whole other level. Also thanks for the tip about getting there early to get the best seat. Hope I can make it there next year.

  11. What’s the dress code for afternoon tea? I suspect you can’t roll in there wearing shorts and a visor.

  12. Quick tip for others. If you look at the picture ‘Our amazing view for afternoon tea’ you will see a round building at the end of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s pier. This is a very good bar / club, no entry charge, and well worth a vist.

    I hope you toured Madinat Jumeirah as well whilst at the Burj. I have had drinks in that bar and, frankly, it is all very scary if you have taste!

  13. We just stayed at Dar al Masyaf (the on-land villas in this same complex). What a wonderful stay. Several other families in our little compound were repeat guests and now stay in the villa over the Burj.

  14. 2 questions, how much would it cost to stay a night and second, can you visit the view bar if you dont intend to have afternoon tea but have reservation for other dinning venue. the point is to go up there to check out the view. by the way, why didnt you visit the tallest building in DB ?

  15. @ Raffles — Thanks for the tip!

    @ choi — In the off season rates seem to start at around $1,300USD per night.

    I don’t believe you can visit the bar unless you have a reservation there.

    I also went to the Burj Khalifa. :)

  16. @ Randall — Dress code is smart casual. They describe it as follows:

    Gentlemen are required to wear a collared shirt, full-length trousers or elegant jeans and closed shoes (no trainers or sport shoes). Ladies are required to wear a suit or dress, long or short skirt or dressy slack and top. UAE national dress is welcomed. For gentlemen: shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops; open and running, gym, tennis, basketball shoes, etc are not allowed.

  17. Just to clarify, while the Skybar is on the 27th floor, all of the floors with guest suites (as there are no guest rooms at the Burj) are actually two floors in one. So the acutal height of the 27th floor is much closer to the 54th floor in an ordinary building. It is a spectacular view.

  18. Just to remind everyone: dubai sucks. Take your money to paris or london where it will be better spent in every possible way.

  19. Ben- The Skybar seemed empty when you took the pictures. Did it fill up? Also, how much of the food did you actually eat (as opposed to just taking pictures of it).

  20. @ John — I took the pictures as we arrived, and we were among the first there. That’s why it’s so empty. It was full by the time we left.

    Between the two of us we managed to finish most of it, though didn’t go for seconds.

  21. @ Mike–I’m curious about your criticism. Does it stem from the country’s denying rights to and persecution of women, gays, and guest workers, its awful environmental record, or other issues? I’ve never been to anywhere in the UAE and am both intrigued by a potential visit and appalled by the notion of contributing my scant financial resources to such a political entity.

  22. Great review. Except for the obscene upcharge on that second glass, High Tea in Arabia should be experienced once. Of one is a big fan, perhaps twice. Yes, U$D 122 is a bit dear for a ‘late lunch,’ but…
    The glitz, bling and display produced my major Arab hotels is beyond my understanding. It seems to ‘Western Imitation,’ by designers who don’t quite get it. For the best in foreign comfort, a 4/5 star house in England or Bavaria is a far better experience. Christmas trees and similar dĆ©cor in the public spaces of a prime UAE hotel just don’t work for me. If there is any local/cultural influence, I missed it. If not imitation English/Western, the themes are too bland to catch an interest. Three unproductive trips (properly arranged and scheduled) were a waste. It seems that they are trying to copy something Western, but don’t understand what they are trying to copy. Traditional Arab service, food, rooms, etc., would have been a lot more interesting. UAE: Never again. The UK and the whole of Europe (including as much of Eastern Europe as possible): As often as I can get there! Nice series of posts.

  23. Thank you for the tips, I look forward to visiting Dubai, it is fabulous place with beautiful hotels unlike our dire hotels in London! sad but true.
    I have emailed to book high tea at Skyview bar,for the experience…I have also booked high tea at the Atmosphere Burj Khalifa as we will be staying by Mall Dubai at the palace, we will also visit the address for dinner to watch the fabulous fountainDubai is just marvelous luxury, we could never afford here in europe nor the US.
    Thank you Dubai.
    NB: by the way foreign workers flock there by their own volition for money, I never seen anyway being dragged to the UAE to work, it is a priviledge, our children who are unemployed here are only too pleased to find employment and go to work there and earn good money too…what is wrong with that? I guess the same apply to all other nationalities.

  24. Great review. @Lucky I just email Skyview Bar, and they told me if you come with 2 people, then 2 sets of afternoon tea should be ordered. How did you managed to get 1 afternoon tea + extra champagne for 2 people? Any tricks:)

  25. Hello
    Thanks for detailed review. I heard one must be 21 yrs or older to visit Skyview bar.
    I have 19 yrs old son. Do they really enforce age restriction ?

  26. @ Chet — Just take a taxi. They’re easy to use and inexpensive in Dubai.

    And I doubt being under 21 will be an issue unless you’re obvious about it.

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