An adult Disneyland with sand – Dubai is crazy, hot and crazy hot with a lot of things I expected (malls, air conditioning, middle eastern food, Lamborghinis, very tall buildings) and a few things I absolutely did not (brilliant brunch, French supermarkets, nightclubs and Starbucks)
London to Dubai is a relatively easy 7-hour daytime flight. I’m used to Dubai being an airport stopover, marking one leg of a fairly brutal 22 or so hour flight to Australia. But when you get to get off and stay off the plane in Dubai, it is definitely much more civilised!
As we were staying with family (and meeting the newest member of it!) we had a brilliant time in Dubai and got to see a less touristy and more interesting side of this city on the Persian Gulf of the UAE .
We did manage to do a few touristy things though including…the world’s highest high tea! It is me we are talking about after all; I will wrangle eating cake into the itinerary of any trip.
The world’s highest high tea is served at Atmosphere, on level 122 of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. You really feel like a celebrity or fabulously wealthy oil baron from the moment you pass through the doors of the Armani hotel lobby on ground floor. Hostesses in floor-length black dresses greet guests, and lift access is guarded by discretely placed Armani suited security. The lift up to level 122 takes less than a minute, but there is a lot of ear popping and a slightly disconcerting wobble to the lift as you reach the higher floors.
Atmosphere has the wood paneled, crisp linen thing that many modern premier high tea venues have, but it also has an incredible panoramic view of Dubai and the desert beyond from almost half a kilometre up. There is glass from floor to ceiling in the dining area and there’s also an epic view from the bathrooms. Service is very attentive, bordering on gushing, and, on request, extends to enthusiastically taking twenty different photos of you having high tea from various angles.
High tea is served on a tiered stand (tick) and includes warm scones (tick) with jam and proper clotted cream (double tick), tiny fancy sandwiches and a selection of French style cakes.
There are a few subtle nods to the fact that you’re in the Middle East. The high tea starts with a glass of iced tea, which makes sense given it is typically over 40 degrees outside, and palate cleansing coconut milk mousse. The selection of gateaux also included a hot weather friendly coconut macaron and the scones were served with a tropical style passionfruit jam, as well as the traditional berry jam.
Particular standouts for me were the cucumber sandwiches, which were actually perfect slices of white bread with cream cheese layered in the middle, wrapped with very thin strips of cucumber. They looked quite striking and tasted delicious. I also loved the miniature chocolate brownies on the top tier, which were so decadent they were like eating pure chocolate fudge. A surprise favourite was the choux pastry, which, when you bit into it, was filled with a salted caramel custard. Winner!
There’s a traditional tea menu, served in large china teapots, and also a very extensive mocktails menu. You can opt for alcohol, but it is very expensive in Dubai and we found it was fairly unnecessary given how many other delicious drinks were on offer. The meal concludes with the female guests being given a small takeaway box of chocolates and the men being given the bill. Excellent.
We took a few final shots of the view and left Atmosphere on a real, dare I say it...high!