24-Hour Room Service: Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Almost any contemporary publicity photograph of Dubai shows the Burj Al Arab, a 321m edifice that rises from the Gulf above its own man-made island. Burj Al Arab means "Arab boat"; the hotel is shaped like a giant sail. To connect the new island to the mainland, a causeway was built. Everyone must pass through a security gate and to keep out rubberneckers, non-residents have to pay 100 dirhams (£20) for the privilege; this is then deducted from your restaurant or bar bill.

Almost any contemporary publicity photograph of Dubai shows the Burj Al Arab, a 321m edifice that rises from the Gulf above its own man-made island. Burj Al Arab means "Arab boat"; the hotel is shaped like a giant sail. To connect the new island to the mainland, a causeway was built. Everyone must pass through a security gate and to keep out rubberneckers, non-residents have to pay 100 dirhams (£20) for the privilege; this is then deducted from your restaurant or bar bill.

Inside, escalators flanked by vast aquariums filled with tropical fish lead up to the lobby, past the Al Iwan restaurant, a vision in red and gold. Then it's on to the lifts, and up to your suite. There are only suites here. They start at 170 square metres (a deluxe) and go up to the Royal Suite at 780 square metres. Each floor has its own reception desk and each suite has its own butler.

Your butler will show you around the suite. Pay close attention. You will need the remote control to open and shut the curtains, switch on the television, listen to music and, indeed, summon the butler.

Location, location, location

The Burj lies 280m off the Jumeirah coast, looking down on a vast stretch of beach. Burj Al Arab, PO Box 74147, Dubai, UAE (00 971 4 3017271, www. jumeirahinternational.com)

Time to international airport: it is 25 minutes from the airport in one of the hotel's fleet of Rolls-Royce Silver Seraphs.

Are you lying comfortably?

I was tempted to spend the night in the whirlpool bath, which was huge. The bed, however, was also immense, with pillows as soft as down.

Freebies: Hermès, darling. Your butler will supply you with bottles of 24 Faubourg eau de toilette, body lotion, shower gel and shampoo, plus enormous wedges of soap. There's also a selection of things like nail files and shaving kits. And lots of stationery, printed especially with your name.

Keeping in touch: the 42-inch plasma TV has video, DVD, internet access and satellite.

The bottom line

A one-bedroom deluxe suite costs around 3,000 dirhams (£600) per night per suite. (The royal suite costs 30,000 dirhams a night, or £6,000.)

I'm not paying that: A room at the Emirates Towers Hotel (00 971 4 330 0000; info@emirates-towers-hotel.com), in the centre of Dubai, costs 1,200 dirhams (£240) per night and offers wonderful cityscape views.

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