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Visiting the Burj Al Arab for Asian Afternoon Tea

Old Apr 21, 14, 7:46 am
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Visiting the Burj Al Arab for Asian Afternoon Tea

The Burj al Arab, claimed to be the world’s most luxurios hotel, is the most iconic landmark in Dubai. It is beautiful from the outside though the interior is also special. In order to see the hotel from the inside, one has to be a guest of the hotel or have a reservation in one of their restaurants.

The cheapest way to get into the Burj al Arab is to have a Afternoon Tea in one of their venues, as did we on our last vacation in Dubai.
I had been to the Burj Al Arab twice before, in 2009 and 2010. Both that times, I had an Afternoon Tea in the Sahn Eddar Lobby bar. This is the ‘classic’ afternoon tea with scones, finger sandwiches and the like. In 2010 I wanted to sample the other offerings, namely the Asian Afternoon Tea in Junsui restaurant. Unfortunately that year, due to Chinese New Year the restaurant was closed during our visit. This time Junsui was open.

My family however preferred the Sahn Eddar option because you then sit in the atrium (the highest in the world) so you can enjoy the architecture and atmosphere. Luckily because I went there multiple times before, preferred a hearty option and love Asian food they allowed me to go on my own to Junsui.

I made a reservation by email through the Burj al Arab website and enquired about the prices and menu. The ‘Ultimate Afternoon Tea’ at Sahn Eddar is priced at 425AED (85EUR) inclusive of a glass of champagne, soft drinks and juices. Sans champagne the price is 375AED (75EUR). Asian Afternoon Tea at Junsui is priced at 300 AED (60EUR) and the cheapest option to dine thus visit BAA.

The two reservations were confirmed and we were asked for a creditcard number as deposit in case we did not turn up. In the email the dress code were also stated as well as a confirmation number.

On the day of our visit we were at Madinat Jumeirah next to the BAA. This Arabic inspired souk features canals and offers great photo opportunities for the Burj. Access to the hotel with a dining reservation is permitted 30 minutes before your reservation time so we walked from Madinat Jumeirah to the entrance of the hotel, next to Wild Wadi Waterpark. The hotel is on a manmade island some 200m out of shore, connected with a bridge. Access to the hotel is strictly enforced. To enter the bridge, you have to present yourself at the ‘Welcome Center’ and show your reservation. Your name is then checked against a list and you are free to walk to the hotel.

View from Madinat Jumeirah

Construction next to the hotel

Wild Wadi

Shining RR

Welcome Center

JB Hotel

Jumeirah Beach Hotel beach

Car fleet

Once arrived in the hotel, there are staff welcoming guests with cold towels, dates and Arabic coffee. After the obligatory pictures we headed upstairs via the escalators flanked by two big fishtanks and fontains. You then arrive in the atrium with golden pillars and colorschemes which become lighter towards to top. Obnoxious. Again, there are fountains with water beams going up several floors.


Reception area

Lobby seating



Roses for Valentines day

High end shops

Arabic restaurant

As said before I visited Dubai in 2009 and 2010. Between those years I already could notice the increase in tourists. In 2009 were virtually were the only tourists in the plane. Also when visiting the BAA, it was quiet with no tourists taking photo’s etc. . It looked like we were the only non-guests. In 2010 you could notice more tourists. Already in the plane, at the main sights and boulevards on Jumeirah and also at the BAA there were some more tourists taking photos.

But what has happened the last four years I can’t understand. The atrium was packed with busloads of tour groups on a photostop (they did not have a reservation either for a room or diningvenue). Real guests had to be escorted through the crowd. Would I be a guest, I’d be annoyed by the number of people the hotel lets in for just a phototour. It was quite a mood killer for the seemingly exclusive atmosphere.


Centre fountain


Tour group

Either way I dropped of my family at Sahn Eddar right at the front of the hotel adjacent the ‘sail’. If you decide to go there, I’d advise you to ask for a table next to the window or to come early and ask for one. You then have a view of both the lobby, atrium and outside to the Jumeirah Beach hotel, Wild Wadi waterpark, Madinat Jumeirah and the supercars arriving at the hotel.
I proceeded to my own restaurant but I did not know where it was located so I asked one of the staff. In order to get to Junsui, you will have to walk to the back of the hotel and then take the elevator down. I got in the elevator and immediately a guard jumped in to look where I was going. ‘Oh you’re going down’. Guess they had tourists trying to sneak to the suites.

Once downstairs the entrance to Junsui was hard to miss. I was welcomed by a hostess and asked for my name. After verifying my reservation I was asked to wait in the lounge for my server to fetch me. The hostess then questioned my shoes as they were not according to the dress code according to her. If I could change them. I wasn’t a guest so I couldn’t just go up to my room and change. Besides those were the nicest shoes in my collection and I was convinced they were neat and not trainers or sneakers. So I told that to the hostess and upon showing they were Ralph Lauren they were instantly OK. Weird but fine by me!


Junsui entrance

Junsui lounge/waiting area/bar

My server arrived and I was walked to my table. The server introduced himself and explained the concept and food and tea menu (the food menu was different from the one I got from the reservations department). Although I by far am not allowed under UAE law to drink alcohol, he did explain I could order alcoholic drinks for a premium, everything else was included.
He left me alone to peruse the menu and decide on my first drink. I decided on a iced tea first as it was hot outside and took a orange juice inspired creation. When the drink arrived I also got a basket of prawn crackers with a number of dips (plum sauce, chilli, sweet sour etc.). Those things were addictive! The orange juice tea drink was very, very nice! Refreshing and sweet.

Junsui restaurant


Table setting



Prawn crackers and dips

Iced tea with OJ

What I did not like was the fact that menus were taken away when you had ordered (I forgot to take a photo of the tea menu, which was quite extensive). I like to know what I am eating during a multi course menu. My table was also less than ideal, probably because I was alone. It was right next to the register. From the restaurant you can overlook the gardens around the building and the sea. Inwards I had a look into the open kitchen as Junsui serves as a Asian buffet restaurant during breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were multiple live cooking stations in various Asian cuisines and it looked appealing.

Junsui main restaurant

The first course arrived and consisted of a rice paper spring roll with vegetables, nuts and a sweet sauce. The vegetables were fresh and crisp. In the meantime I switched to a hot green tea for the next course.

Spring roll

Crisp greens

The second course was by far my favourite. Sushi roll with soft shell crab. I had never eaten such delicious sushi before. Very nice meat in a crispy batter. By then I had also gone through two or three baskets of kerupuk. More were offered but I managed to control myself and decline.

Delicous sushi roll

Green tea

The next course was wagyu dumpling in broth. I had high expectations of this course and especially the wagyu. I was slightly disappointed. The broth was lukewarm and quite salty. The single wagyu dumpling however was indeed as tender as it could be. It just melted in my mouth.


Wagyu dumpling
With the fourth course I noticed the courses were coming very fast after each other. It was if they tried to get me out of there as soon as possible. The fourth serving was an Indonesian pasty. It was nothing special and I can get it better at home. I also found it too sweet for my taste. After this course, I choose a jasmine tea.

Indonesian pastel with curry filling

The fifth course would be the last hearty serving and I liked the sushi so much I could have another portion. I had the impression from reviews on the Internet that you could have more servings from one course so I asked my waiter. He said it was not normally done but I managed to sweettalk him to ask the chef. After some minutes he came back with a second helping of the sushi and when I thanked him he said ‘Jumeirah stands for hospitality’.

More sushi

The last hearty course was a macaroon with roasted duck and hoisin cream. I don’t know if I really like the combination of the very sweet macaroon and hoisin with the salty duck. The crème between the macaroon was also quite fatty.

Roast duck macaroon with hoisin

In anticipation of the desert courses I ordered my last iced tea, Apple breeze or something. Both desert courses were served in one go; the banana spring roll with vanilla icecream and assorted petit fours on a stand. The spring roll was very good. The crust was crispy and the banana was not too mushy but flavoursome. The ice cream was devine!

Banana spring roll

Vanilla ice cream

Petit fours

The wait for the iced tea took quite some time and I had to follow up on it as I already had finished all the food. It was not even worth waiting for. The tea was very watery and sour. Not up my street.

Apple iced tea
My family was already done upstairs and they were already waiting in the Junsui lounge. By the way there is free WiFi in the entire hotel without a password. It was pretty fast too.

I asked for the bill and in the meantime went to the toilet. It was as shiny as the other parts of the hotel and immaculately clean.

Junsui restroom

For both my bills, I also earned points on my Jumeirah Sirius card. After the bill was settled I thanked the staff and we went back to our hotel.

Pictures from Sahn Eddar:


Live music

Hearty sandwiches

On site chef

Chef's carvery


Assorted cakes

View of car fleet

View of JB Hotel
Apparently both the service and food at Sahn Eddar were underwhelming according to my family. Staff wasn’t very kind and attentive and there too, my family got the impression staff wanted them out as quickly as possible hence a quick serving pace. After our visit I received a survey from Jumeirah and duly filled it in, noting my issues: staff attitude, pace of servings, temperature of F&B and following up on orders. I got a reply from the F&B manager saying the chef and staff got a retraining so that it would never happen again, a close look at the menu blahblahblah . I sincerely doubt they do anything about it but do understand that you should not go to BAA and expect stellar food and service. For a peek inside the hotel, these options are perfectly fine. The food and service is certainly not bad though for the price we paid and the reputation the hotel has, we expected more.

Thanks for reading!

In case you are interested in my other trip reports:
KLflyerRalph is offline
Old Apr 21, 14, 8:10 am

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Very interesting verdict. I enjoyed your pictures!
UTex09 is online now
Old Apr 21, 14, 9:12 am

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Interesting------ but the place looks FANTASTICALLY vulgar to me.
handsomestpete is offline
Old Apr 21, 14, 11:33 am

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Originally Posted by handsomestpete View Post
Interesting------ but the place looks FANTASTICALLY vulgar to me.

Not to sound blasé, superior, haughty or anything, but does one expect anything else ?
Cofyknsult is offline
Old Apr 21, 14, 12:22 pm

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The food looks interesting - possibly worth a stop if you want to do a tourist thing! A few years ago we went for afternoon in the Emirates Palace Hotel in AUH....very nice, and hardly anyone else eating there....we have a very plesant afternoon, and wasn't as expensive as in Dubai. I guess it's busier and more expensive now
shefgab is online now
Old Apr 21, 14, 7:45 pm

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Thanks for the report. IMO it's interesting that they've managed to make a beautiful building on the outside while making it horrible on the inside.
FAA1996 is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 2:08 am
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Burj is OK to stay in, but the Food is nothing special.
offerendum is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 2:23 am

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Looks very nice!
kkl is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 7:39 am

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Can you explain the part about it not being legal for you to drink Alcohol? You seem to live in the EU. I assume you are Muslim?
largeeyes is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 9:04 am

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Thanks for this interesting trip report.

Enjoyed the images and the up-front and honest evaluation of the service attitude.

Never been there but think of some luxury shops where the personnel (=salespersons!!) are behaving in the same manner.

But the images alone are worth the large price tag, assuming that there is no cheaper way in.

Last edited by gum; Apr 22, 14 at 9:13 am
gum is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 11:19 am

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Originally Posted by Cofyknsult View Post

Not to sound blasé, superior, haughty or anything, but does one expect anything else ?
Erm-----perhaps not!!!!!.Give me taupe,give me greige,give me minimal.Give me the Lufthansa First class lounge school of interior design!.
handsomestpete is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 12:26 pm

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My 18 yo son and I were at the Burj al Arab last Sunday for their Culinary Flight lunch. Four courses, each one served in a different BAA restaurant. The food and service were excellent and the experience memorable to be sure. Was it worth it? Yeah, once, if only to say we've been there and done that.

What surpassed the BAA lunch for us was dinner at Table 9 in the Hilton Dubai Creek the following evening. We reserved chef Darren Velvick's tasting menu and his chef's table. If you have one "splurge" meal in Dubai I suggest doing this as opposed to the BAA.
El Cochinito is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 10:02 pm

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Great report and pics. Afternoon tea looks interesting.

We visited last year for evening cocktaiks which, as far as I know, is one of the cheapest ways to visit with a 250 minimum spend per person (some pics in trip report http://cpi-web.ru/forum/trip-...j-al-arab.html). I thought that was pretty reasonable for Skyview Bar. I think I read at the time that breakfast was the cheapest way to get access.

We also found service a bit patchy in Skyview Bar - took a while to get drink orders taken and for drinks to arrive.
ellie_nz is offline
Old Apr 22, 14, 11:17 pm
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That was a great report with beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing your tea with us.

El Cochinito, I am surprised that the Hilton Dubai Creek has a chef who can present a spectacular meal. Thank you for that comparison. It's been many years since I stayed there, but I really enjoyed the hotel when I did.

Originally Posted by El Cochinito View Post
What surpassed the BAA lunch for us was dinner at Table 9 in the Hilton Dubai Creek the following evening. We reserved chef Darren Velvick's tasting menu and his chef's table. If you have one "splurge" meal in Dubai I suggest doing this as opposed to the BAA.
SanDiego1K is offline
Old Apr 23, 14, 6:00 am

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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
I am surprised that the Hilton Dubai Creek has a chef who can present a spectacular meal.
There has been a genuinely good restaurant here in several guises for 10 or so years now. Used to be Verre by Gordon Ramsay (which had both Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton as head chef at various stages) before becoming Table 9 by Nick and Scott when the Ramsay agreement ended. Nick and Scott left earlier this year and Darren (who used to work with Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley) has taken over.

It has always been good and I actually think I've liked it more with each change. It isn't a staggering venue (like the rest of the hotel, it's looking a bit dated) but I think that, food wise, it's one of the best two or three restaurants in town and is the only one of these where you will see the guy whose name is on the door on a nightly basis.
FinalCallDXB is offline

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