Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Highest of High Teas



 I've been talking a lot about Dubai lately, haven't you noticed?

When I returned to the states from my massive trip overseas this year, I thought about taking my sweet long time blogging and mixing in a few entires on Dubai with Pakistan and other places...but you saw how well that went with Scandinavia, in which I STILL have not finished all my posts on Helsinki and Copenhagen....

So now, let's talk about  Dubai, start to finish.

And what better place to have this talk than At.mosphere at the Burj Khalifa.

I believe it needs to be stated that I absolutely love afternoon tea. Ever since my experience at the Penninsula in Hong Kong I want to have afternoon tea all over the world. So when I arrived in Dubai, this was on the agenda.

Bare in mind, this is the land of luxury hotels, so I had a lot of options. I could have tea at the infamous Burj al Arab, but after an indecorous experince there (my friend was refused entry because of his shoes - which I found ridiculous), I decided I wanted to go with another option. There are dozens of smaller hotels that offer perfectly acceptable teas, but I wanted some exquisite, something that really says  "Dubai."

So I phoned the Burj Khalifa and made reservations for Sunday at 3:00 pm. It's just the tallest building in the world, no big deal.







Besides this place being extremely luxious and high-end, nothing about my journey there was.

After an awkward taxi experience to the Dubai mall the previous week, I opted for taking the metro to my high tea appointment. I also mapped out the station and figured that I could walk to the metro from my friend's home in less than 10 minutes, which seemed like the reasonable alternative to taking a cab to the metro station, like my friend suggested. I'm used to walking everywhere in Portland. I've even developed what is called, "the Portland walking pace" meaning that I move pretty swiftly.

I walk 35 minutes to work everyday, but that is in Portland, and this is in Dubai. After a ten minute walk to the train station I was covered in sweat down to my hips...and wearing an orange silk blouse.
Orange silk was a bad choice....

Also, it should be noted the the "Dubai Mall" stop on the meto station is about a 30 minute walk to the acutal mall. And that the "At the Top - Burj Khalifa" shop at the Dubai Mall is not actually where you enter the Burj Khalifa for tea. Oh no. To get to At.mosphere, where the afternoon tea is held, you actually need to exit the mall and walk about 15 minutes in the heat to get there.
Needless to say, I looked like I jumped into a swimming pool before I arrived, and was over 30 minutes late for my appointment.
Not a classy first impression.






However, the entire mess of the day melted away when I sat in this cool, serene lounge, 122 floors in the air. Watching this  man-made behemoth of a city unfold before me, I began to feel like my entire trip was worth while.

Even though it was Sunday afternoon - the ideal time for tea - At.mosphere was only half full, so they were able to accommodate my late arrival. Also, I was promptly moved to a window seat when it became available, even though I had not specifically requested one. Score!




This was absolutely the best afternoon tea of my life. The food, tea, and service was flawless.
I loved loved loved that I could order as much tea, coffee, and drinks as I wanted, unlike some places, where the fee only includes one pot of tea. This place pretty much ruined high tea for me, as I will never be satisfied with any other place after the Burj Khalifa. Tea aficionados, beware. 

I ordered an iced tea with vanilla, which was the most delicious iced tea of my life. My actual pot of tea was the Aux Sept Parfums tea:

"A blend of China and Ceylon teas, flowery and fruity savor, improved with lemon essential oil, bergamot, fresh fig, lotus, flowers, pitanga flavors, enriched with orange peels, red roses, and pale petal rose."




And for what I paid, my experience was well worth it. For about 275 AED, I had a glorious view all to myself, with enough food to fill me up for a day, unlimited drinks (non-alcoholic for me), and I could sit there in peace as long as I wanted.

To give you an idea of what it costs just to go to the top floor of the Burj Khalifa, you can pay 125 AED for a reserved ticket, stand in line for an absurd amount of time, fight through crowds of people to take photographs from a tiny observation deck, then get whisked down to the ground when your very limited time is up. Or to avoid the line, you can pay 400 AED.

Now, doesn't lounging around with delicious food all afternoon sound like such a better alternative?
I though so too.




Now let's talk close ups!




















Before I left, I wanted to snap a few pictures of the bathroom at At.mosphere. It was amazing!I guess I have a weird thing for amazing bathrooms. I hope this doesn't tern into a new item for me...



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