Atlantis: Dubai's maddest hotel

Gemma Pitcher
Atlantis Lost Chambers suite
Atlantis Lost Chambers suite
This is the place to check in to if the words 'financial meltdown' merely cause you to frown in faint puzzlement...
Gemma Pitcher

It was the Greek philosopher Plato who spawned the legend of Atlantis, a great empire founded by the sea-god Poseidon. Although scholars agree that Plato's tale was just that, the lost city of Atlantis has long captured our imaginations.

Its remains have been "found" over the years by psychics, adventurers and amateur archaeologists in locations ranging from Sweden to Palestine, Central Asia to Antarctica and Ireland to the Mediterranean.

According to Plato, Atlantis' inhabitants were punished for their greed and decadence by being submerged in a deluge. In Dubai, where decadence is certainly not a punishable offence, Plato's lost city has now been recreated in hotel form. The man behind the myth is Sol Kerzner, the squillionaire who created the giant piece of tack known as Sun City in South Africa. He's already built a resort called Atlantis in the Bahamas, and has now expanded his empire to Dubai with the opening of the new 1,539-room, $1.8 billion megaplex Atlantis The Palm.

The maddest hotel in Dubai

Britain's Times Online website described the development as 'the maddest hotel in Dubai'; quite an accolade for a city where bonkers architecture is most definitely the order of the day (think ski slopes in shopping malls). So just what is it that makes Atlantis so crazy? Well, for starters, it's situated in the centre of a manmade sand island shaped like a palm tree. The two 120-metre high towers that span the site are linked by a bridge containing what's quite possibly the world's most expensive suite — at $33,000, this is the place to check in to if the words 'financial meltdown' merely cause you to frown in faint puzzlement.

An aquarium in your bathroom

There's arguably no point staying in a hotel called Atlantis, though, if you're not actually underwater. Fortunately, the hotel's Lost Chambers suites provide views from both the bedroom and the bathroom windows into a lagoon filled with 65,000 marine animals. So you can relax on your bed and watch giant manta rays float slowly by, or admire the sharks from your toilet. If you can't tear yourself away long enough to eat at one of the hotel's seventeen restaurants, your personal 24-hour butler can organise room service.

Waterslides — with sharks

By day, guests can frolic in the 42-acre Aquaventure waterpark, built to look like an Atlantean monument, where waterslides like whitewater rapids shoot you through a 'shark-infested lagoon' (presumably the sharks are on the outside) before 'water escalators' take you back up to the top for another go. There's also the chance to swim with those ever-obliging dolphins at a dubiously-named 'conservation centre'.

The 'lost' chambers

The hotel's pride and joy, however, is the Lost Chambers — giant underwater fishtanks filled with lumps of carefully styled cement, supposedly 'modelled on the architecture of Atlantis'. Apart from there's no such thing as Atlantis. So presumably the Lost Chambers should really be called the Made Up Chambers. The hotel's website describes one part of these as 'An ancient refining chute with filtering grills previously used to separate ore, surrounded by lobsters in pools that have filled the chute over time.' Er, sorry? The hotel opened in late September this year, so presumably those 'ancient' refining chutes (what IS a refining chute anyway?) are actually just a couple of months old.

Still, if you're determined to find the fabled lost city, book a flight to Dubai — it may be expensive, but it's still cheaper than a submarine and a searchlight…

Would you cough up for a visit to Dubai's Atlantis? Have your say using the comments form below

User comments
have just come from Dubai, what an amazing place and atlantis was worth the visit . Although a little over the top. the chamber was nothing special just another aquarium. As far a being safe where we stayed was a little scary but was never threatened in any way. Dubai is well worth the 16 hour flight to get there
Yep - ok, there really is something obscene about all the money being spent in dubai whilst there are thousands of starving children in the world. The cost of build water parks in the desert etc but so what? There are people who marvel at the amazing engineering involved in the creation of those structures and man made islands. There is a market for everything and if you dont like it - dont go there. Honestly - if you feel so bad about the plight of the marine environment or the starving massess - get up out of your comfey chair, ditch your expensive PC and go and do something constructive about it. I'm off the dubai with my kids to show them whats outside the box they live in. I only wish we could afford to stay at Atlantis, but will definately catch the monorail out there for the day trip.
Would love to go there one day, just one pet peeve...Would anyone else find it uncomfortable having sex with all those fishes swimming around? I know they aren't people but wouldn't it create that same awkward feeling?
just letting everybody know i would,nt go to this place dubai especially if they owed me $60 billion dollars,theres better things to spend your own money on in your own country. further more dubai is not safe there is two sets of law one for the locals of dubious dubai and one for expats stay safe dont go, go to australia or europe..
True that what Jade posted!!! But jade how many fish tanks in the world... this one is just much much bigger. Its an amazing place. And as for the waterslides... yes there are many... but with sharks?? I didnt see no sharks.! where did you get that from. If you want to see many many sharks swimming round and round in one tiny confined space.. report on the aquarium in the new shopping centre..
if the journalist didnt give an opinion this would just be a commercial for the hotel wouldnt it. That in itself would be biased
A fool and his money are some party! Its a bedroom for gods sake,you sleep there dough-head.
I feel like I need to write in and say a little.. I moved from Melbourne to Dubai 12 years ago and have seen many changes here. For starters its not $33,000US a night in a standard room its more like $450US a night however if you want to spend $33,000 you can do so by staying in there one and only penthouse which is one of the largest I think you will find in the world. I do agree they should free the Whale shark its just not right !!! I stayed in this hotel when it first opened and apart from the normal teething problems it was fantastic and for Dubai its a great attraction and I hope that some of you may see it as its around the same cost of most of the Hotels along the coast line and even cheaper than some. As far as Burj Al Arab sinking into the see what a load of rubbish !!!
Enough with your damned opinionated journalism.
If I had the money, I'd go there right now.It sounds wonderfull. I love the ocean and to stay in a hotel like that wound be great!