“The Burj,” as it is known to locals, is Dubai’s original glitzy icon. Designed by architect Tom Wright, the 202-suite luxury hotel is set on a private island off the coast of the beach neighborhood of Jumeirah, and constructed in the shape of a sail.
It’s all very 007, no matter how you choose to arrive. Book an Uber chopper and circle over the Arabian Gulf and surrounding manmade islands, touching down on a helicopter pad perched high in the sky. Or drive down the peninsula to a gate, where you’ll be asked to present a secret code you’ve received with your booking.
Once inside, the lobby is dripping in gold, scented with oud and roses, and ripe for photo ops. Al Mahara, the underwater restaurant, is worth a splurge (not to mention the excuse to pack a full-length evening gown), as exotic fish swim right past your eyes, and waiters skillfully carve local hammour fish baked in salt right at the table.