Dressing Up for The Burj Al Arab Hotel

So, you’ve decided to visit the Burj Al Arab on your upcoming trip to Dubai. First things first, get ready for the experience of a lifetime! Whether you’re visiting for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in one of their many world-class restaurants or you’re planning to stay in the hotel, this visit is one that you’ll never forget. But there are some important things you should consider before you hop on the plane and make your way over for drinks at Skyview Bar.

It’s important to keep in mind that many upscale locations, particularly those in Dubai, have particular dress codes that they expect you to adhere to. When you’re visiting a place where the temperature is likely to hover around 100 degrees in the summer months, this may not have been something that crossed your mind as you were packing.

Is there a dress code for the Burj Al Arab Hotel? Yes, the Burj Al Arab hotel’s website generally requests that all visitors adhere to what they call a “smart casual” dress code for common areas, and a “dressy casual” dress code for many of their restaurants.  

Thankfully, they’re not requesting that you walk around in full, swanky black-tie attire as you move from one of the restaurants to the pool, to your room, and back again. But they still may be asking you to wear clothing options that you weren’t planning on bringing with you initially. If you’re getting ready to pack, here are the extras that you should include:

How to dress for a visit to The Burj Al Arab hotel

On any other vacation, you might be tempted to just stroll from the side of the pool to the bar in your shorts, tank top, and flip flops or bathing suit shorts and wet tee shirt, and think nothing of it. On any other vacation, the hotel you’re staying in might not think anything of it either. Unfortunately, that casual attire may not go over as well in the Burj Al Arab hotel.

The Burj Al Arab asks that male visitors wear collared shirts, sweaters, elegant jeans (not too plain or with any holes or patches) or full-length trousers or khakis, and shoes that are closed. They don’t allow sneakers, slippers, or flip flops. Female visitors are asked to wear a dress, suit, or skirt and a dressy top. Considering the level of service that they offer in this hotel and the look that they are trying to culminate, this isn’t too unreasonable and should be easy enough to accommodate for anyone who has enough notice in advance.  

The only confusing thing about the smart casual dress code required by the hotel is the surprising way that it is enforced. Looking through reviews on TripAdvisor, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s enforced in some situations and not in others. A few people have even complained about being asked to swap out inappropriate garments while other people making the same violations were clearly visible.

It seems that the dress code is the most strictly enforced after 6:00 p.m. in the public areas, but the individual restaurants may be stricter at any time throughout the day. Taking your chances seems to work out just fine for some visitors and not for others, with no clear indication of why that might be. While you may get lucky enough to wander around in your shorts and tee shirt without anyone noticing, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk of having to put your night on hold or lose your dinner reservation while you go back up to the room and find an alternative outfit or shoes to change into.

Is “smart casual” the dress code for all of the restaurants in the Burj Al Arab, too?

For lunches at most of the restaurants in the Burj Al Arab, the same smart casual attire should be completely fine. Wearing a nice cocktail dress or a polo shirt and dress pants is perfectly acceptable and could even make for some nice pictures in whichever one of the picturesque restaurants you choose! If you’re looking for recommendations, sunset drinks at the Skyview Bar will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

For dinner reservations, however, the dress code at many of the restaurants may get a bit more complicated. Most of the restaurants ask that you follow a “dressy casual” dress code, which seems to just be a notch above the “smart casual.” For example, visitors have reported that the men in their dinner party were required to wear a jacket at all times when eating at the popular seafood restaurant Al Mahara. Ties are completely optional, but if you are not wearing a jacket, they may request that you go get one and come back.

According to TripAdvisor reviews, it seems that the best time for dressing casually in the hotel and in the restaurants is in the morning. Visitors reported wearing nice shorts and a polo shirt or something equally casual during breakfast and in the hotel lobby during check-in and check-out. Maybe the trick is slipping by hotel employees before they’ve had a chance to drink their coffee!

How many restaurants are there in the Burj Al Arab hotel?

No matter what your meal preferences are, there’s an option in the Burj Al Arab hotel for you. There are a total of eight different restaurants and bars in the hotel, and each one has its own style and specialty. They’re all highly rated and beautifully designed, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you’re staying for long enough, it could be really fun to try a different one each day and see which one you like the best so you can focus most of your meal time there on your next visit! Here is the full list:

  • Al Iwan (specialty: Arabian buffet)
  • Junsui (specialty: East Asian)
  • Al Mahara in the aquarium (specialty: seafood)
  • Al Muntaha (specialty: French)
  • Bab Al Yam (specialty: international mix – their website describes it as “Middle Eastern style meets European flavor”)
  • Skyview Bar (specialty: innovative cocktails and afternoon teas)
  • Gold On 27 (specialty: gastro-bar and cocktails)
  • Scape (specialty: Mediterranean)

The two with the best views are the Al Mahara and the Skyview Bar. If you enjoy seafood and you’re looking for one of the most unique and interesting dining experiences in the world, visit the Al Mahara and enjoy your meal alongside the floor to ceiling aquarium. You can watch 6,500 different marine animals float by while you enjoy your world-class dinner. You’ll feel like you’re dining under the sea and you’ll get some incredible pictures to bring home with you.

If unique specialty cocktails and appetizers are more your style or you’re looking for somewhere with a great view to enjoy a drink or two after dinner, try the Skyview Bar. It’s located on the 27th floor of the hotel and you’ll feel like you’re sipping your martini on a cloud. Bonus points if you get lucky enough to snag a table by the window during sunset!

While these two are the most popular choices (for obvious reasons), each of the restaurants is highly rated, fabulously decorated, and comes with great views of their own. Once you’re ready to move on to one of the others, check out the Junsui where you can enjoy a pan-Asian feast underneath a carefully curated canopy of Swarovski crystals or delectable French cuisine next to a panoramic view of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf.

If you’re not staying at the Burj Al Arab during your stay, booking a lunch or dinner reservation in any one of their amazing restaurants is a great way to visit and marvel at its beauty before you venture back to your hotel. Most of these restaurants are easy to book online, but you should do so as early as possible since seats are limited and they’re often in high demand.

Is there a dress code for visiting other places in Dubai?

Even in 2019, you can expect there to be strict standards for the way we dress in certain foreign countries. In some places, it’s considered wildly inappropriate and offensive to show too much skin or to not wear the traditional attire preferred by the locals. Luckily, Dubai has been relatively modernized over the last few years, so this is not the case here (in most places).

The tank tops, dresses, shorts, polo shirts, and flip flops that you packed up for the trip are safe for most other places you’ll be visiting in Dubai. Dubai in general is very aware and up on current fashion trends. If you want to get a feel for their style or you need some inspiration, just check out one of the many Instagram models that spent time beaching it up and sipping cocktails at the Skyview Bar in Dubai this year. Many of the locals and other travelers will choose to be impressively dressed, but no one will approach you on the Palm Jumeirah boardwalk and ask you to throw on a jacket or tie.

As there are with most rules, there are exceptions. While you can feel free to roam in your beach attire while you’re walking the boardwalk, going to the marine animal park, booking outdoor excursions, or visiting the Burj Khalifa skyscraper’s observation deck, the Burj Al Arab hotel is not the only place that wants you to suit up a bit. The hotel will have stricter requirements for you to follow, but here are a few other places that you should also be cautious of what outfit you’re choosing for the day:

  • Dubai malls / higher-end shopping centers
  • Historical landmarks
  • Mosques and museums

The malls in Dubai don’t expect you to be dressed in suit and tie to do some souvenir shopping on your vacation, but they may ask you to cover up your shoulders and your legs above the knee. You can still wear shorts, as long as they are long enough to reach your knee cap (or close enough that no one would bother saying anything) and you can wear tee shirts and cardigans as long as exposed shoulders are covered. Some shopping centers will be more lenient about enforcing the dress code than others and you may slip by if you’re lucky enough, but if you’re traveling far from where you’re staying to go shopping for the day, it’s best not to have to go all the way back to the hotel to get extra clothes. If it’s a particularly warm day (Dubai can get up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s definitely a possibility), stay in what you’re comfortable in but bring a few extra clothing items in your day bag so you can throw them on over your clothes or change in a bathroom if you need to.

Historical landmarks, mosques, and museums are other places that you may want to be a bit more selective with your clothing choices. These places may not have a strict or outlined dress code, but they are likely to have more older locals than tourists on any given day, so it’s best to be aware and respectful of the older cultures in Dubai that may still be present here to a small degree. As we said before, traditional clothing is no longer required in Dubai, but some older men and women who have lived there for a long time may still choose to wear it, so just be aware, respectful, and polite when you see them.

You don’t have to wear traditional clothing alongside the older locals and you don’t have to cover yourself up from head to toe, but consider dressing a bit more modestly in these places, as it is the culturally respectful thing to do. Again, nothing is enforced here, but I would suggest skipping the booty shorts you wore to the beach and opting for a tee shirt and comfortable jeans, a summer dress that hits the knees, capris, or longer shorts.

The easiest way to pack for your upcoming trip to Dubai is to make a list of all of the places you plan to visit first. Once you know where you’re going, you can use that tentative itinerary as an easy reference guide for your clothing choices. If you’re going in one of the cooler weather months, you may not have to rearrange much at all.

Casual and comfortable attire is fine for any outdoor excursions, outdoor and public locations like the boardwalk, and restaurants that aren’t as high end as the ones in the Burj Al Arab or any of the other, more luxurious hotels. Smart casual is fine for places like the malls and other shopping centers, historical landmarks, museums, mosques, and the public areas of the Burj Al Arab and other hotels. Dressy casual is reserved for fancier places like the restaurants in the Burj Al Arab, including the Skyview Bar. The only place that you’ll likely need a jacket (with or without a tie) is the Al Mahara seafood restaurant in the Burj Al Arab. If you’re staying in another hotel with very high-end restaurants, you should be able to find the information on their dress code on their website or with a quick phone call or e-mail to the front desk.





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