It’s the hotel everyone touching down in Dubai wants to get inside, experience and feel what seven star luxury feels like. There are only a few ways to grant yourself access across the bridge leading to one of the world’s most iconic buildings; with a room reservation or with a dining reservation. You’ll also have to ensure you’re suitably attired too; ripped jeans, shorts, sandals and other casual wears are not welcome. Whilst most people are heading for the Skyview Bar for panoramic sea views; there are other dining options in the Burj Al Arab that  may offer better value for money or a different experience.

Al Iwan is a self service, buffet restaurant located in the upper lobby of the hotel. The decor is suitably opulent and as you would expect rich, a mix of reds and golds are used in the palate of this restaurant. As you walk in there is a buffet area, quite limited in size by Dubai standards, offering a mix of mainly Arabic with international cuisine mixed in. Your server will offer you rose water and arabic coffee to further enhance the Arabian theme. The service was polite, friendly and not in the slightest bit stuffy; as some would tend to expect in a hotel of this stature.

On the night I visited, I was the only table occupied. I was shown around the buffet and each dish explained in detail, with special attention being paid to any allergies or intolerance. There is a section dedicated to camel milk; with milk to drink, chocolate and cakes. A large hot food station including a huge warming plate with whole lamb inside. For the non-arabic food fans there is roast chicken, chicken skewers and a few more international dishes, not a huge selection for a fussy eater though.

Where the buffet really does excel is presentation, and especially with the deserts and sweet treats. A beautifully designed selections plate of arabic and non Arabic cakes, pastries and also a selection of hot deserts.

As with most eateries in the Burj Al Arab you could eat better quality food at much lower prices throughout Dubai, but they don’t have the branding and the opportunity to access one of the world’s most awe inspiring pieces of design and architecture.