“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James
With that in mind, where better to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon cradling a china cup than at the top of the world’s tallest building. On the 123rd floor to be precise.
At.mosphere Lounge, located high up among the clouds in the iconic Burj Khalifa is so much more than just a restaurant with a view. Although if we’re going to talk about views, they don’t come much better in Dubai than from the highest man-made point.
Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, the restaurant and lounge is one of those places normally reserved for special occasions and tourists with deep pockets.
However, as we discovered it’s also one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy Dubai from the air-conditioned bliss of inside, taking in every square foot of new cityscape below from the Dubai Canal to the soaring new hotels of the Downtown area; it’s a place that allows you to explore the emirate from above, marvelling in the bird’s-eye view that you’re given and remembering how insanely lucky you are to live/visit this astonishing part of the world. Yes, it’s for special occasions but why not make every day special?
High Tea at At.mosphere is the kind of event that conjures up murmurings of excitement long before the actual date itself and arriving at the foot of the Khalifa does nothing to squash the butterflies. From the gleaming Bugatti Veyron’s parked outside the entrance of the Armani Hotel to the impeccably dressed porters ushering you into the fragrant hotel lobby and to the lifts where your journey sees you go down instead of up at first, it’s all really quite exciting.
After confirming your booking, you’re whisked up to the 123rd floor in what feels like no time at all and greeted by some of the most breathtaking views you’ll have ever seen. From the blue of the Dubai Fountains to the perspective of the sheer enormity of Dubai Mall, the scorching Arabian sun reflecting off the sides of the world’s tallest building that you are standing at the top of, and bouncing off each and every seemingly minute skyscraper in your shadow.
Tearing yourself away from one vista you’re politely ushered to another. You are required to pay extra for a window seat but we recommend you do.
At.mosphere Lounge invites you to enjoy this very English of traditions with a twist with two distinct ways that you can take it. La Gourmandise is classic afternoon tea as you will know it; a small but nonetheless beautiful selection of mini sandwiches accompany mouth-watering scones and pâtisseries and the obligatory tea itself, of which there is an infinite selection. Or if you’re feeling flush upgrade your high tea to the Luxurious Menu, which not only includes signature delicacies but also includes a main course (roast of the day) and a chilled flute of something sparkling. Both options more than do justice to the charm of this quintessentially charming European tradition.
Opting for La Gourmandise our few stolen hours of indulgence began with a homemade ice tea which was served alongside fresh berries and cream. From the zesty fruitiness of the deep purple ice tea to the thick yet fluffy consistency of the lashings of cream that enveloped a petite selection of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, every last mouthful was savoured. High Tea indeed.
After you’ve snapped the necessary instagram-worthy photos posing against the backdrop of Dubai in its entirety, you’re lured back to the velvety coziness of your seat by the melodic sounds of the resident saxophonist and your declinations are served in the form of 3x chef selected finger sandwiches. Now, this may seem like a relatively small selection compared to other afternoon tea’s that you may have tried but as you’ll discover each perfectly formed crustless sandwich is so rich in its filling that even if like us you request more, you’ll be full before the second batch arrive. Great for fish lovers with tuna on rye bread and smoked salon and cream cheese, yet perhaps not so great for those wishing to see more traditional afternoon tea sandwich fillings such as cucumber and egg mayonnaise.
High Tea at At.mosphere is not an affair where each course of the tea comes out individually, in fact we are presented with a cake stand with all the elements of our experience in one go; sandwiches, pâtisseries and scones.
Being quite particular about the order in which we eat (read: devour) our high tea, we began with our savoury sandwiches and rather quickly moved on to the perfect looking pâtisseries, each one topped with gold leaf. Well, this is Dubai after all.
Orange macaroons sit proudly next to chocolately goodness, each one threatening to melt under the lowering sunshine beaming in through the windows unless you eat it fairly promptly. This receives no resistance of course. The scones as you would expect, are homemade and include both a traditional scone and a chocolate version and can be lathered with jam, clotted cream or marmalade.
For tea lovers, as we mentioned before, there is a wide and varied selection. From the more widely regarded Royal Darjeeling, the king of Indian teas with its exquisite fragrance and vibrant taste, to the slightly more unusual offerings such as Earl Grey Chocolate which is a rich, aromatic black tea accented with notes of rare bergamot and pure dark chocolate.
If you’d rather something slightly more refreshing to enjoy the views with then the High Berry mocktail is really quite fabulous with its pink flamingo tea blended with blackcurrant, cranberry and elderflower.
High Tea at At.mosphere is certainly an experience; it’s a relaxing, civilized way to spend your afternoon, not to mention make all your friends green with cake envy. Offered daily, it’s imperative to book due to its popularity and available from 12 noon to 4:30pm with last bookings being taken at 2:30pm.
La Gourmandise (traditional) – AED 320 per person for non-window tables only.
Luxurious Menu – AED 420 per person (non-window table), AED 490 per person (window table), AED 650 per person including a bottle of sparkling beverage
For reservations call 04 8883828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org