When visitors come to Dubai for the first time, most of them want to see two things: the Burj Khalifa, and “that seven-star hotel”.

They are talking, of course, about the Burj Al Arab, the sail-shaped structure that sits on its own man-made island off Jumeirah Beach. The hotel that is so fancy it doesn’t have “rooms” – it has “suites”. The hotel that is so exclusive it has its own helipad. The hotel that is so attentive to guests’ needs that it has a 24-hour butler service and a staff-to-suite ratio of 8:1.

Basically, this is a hotel that is so luxurious it was somehow deemed beyond the regular five-star rating system for hotels.

Located on a manmade island 280m off Jumeirah Beach, Burj Al Arab (meaning Tower of the Arabs) is a luxurious hotel that is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. Measuring 321m, the hotel was opening in 1999 and was designed to resemble a ship’s sail. Reportedly the world’s only 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab offers the ultimate in luxury featuring a 180m tall atrium, a fleet of white Rolls Royce cars, dancing fountains and touches of gold leave everywhere.

The iconic nature of the building sees it dominate the Dubai skyline and its designer, Tom Wright of WKK Architects, has compared it to Sydney’s Opera House, London’s Big Ben or Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Designed to make a statement and become synonymous with Dubai, the building resembles the sail of an Arabian water vessel know as a dhow. A vast ‘mast’ creates the intersecting point for two ‘wings’ which open out into a V formation. The space between the wings is where you’ll find the massive enclosed atrium.