Dubai may have a reputation for fancy pants nightspots, but canopies of chandeliers and velvet-roped entrances aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, the city also does a strong line in more casual hangouts – the sort of places that won’t bat an eyelid at punters who rock up in flip-flops and shorts, even if it is after 6pm. Garden of Eden, in TECOM’s Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites, is one of these places.
Just across the road from the better known Byblos Hotel and its own popular casual drinking spot The Crown & Lion, Boutique 7 is home to a sprinkling of watering holes – namely British-themed sports pub One Up, and hot new club Ego Urban Lounge, which opened at the very end of last year. Pitched primarily as a shisha café – albeit a licensed one – Eden offers something pleasingly different to its sister and neighbouring outlets, and we’re fans.
Running along the side of the hotel on the ground floor, this al fresco lounge is accessible directly from the street. It’s a change from the usual protocol of roaming through a hotel to find the bar, and as a result has the feel of an inner-city pub garden somewhere in say, Europe.
A small scattering of potted plants line the length of the patio and add a dollop of character (as do the multi-coloured lights after dark), while the familiar scent of fruity shisha places you firmly back in Dubai.
It’s worth noting, though, that even for non-smokers, the aroma is at no point overwhelming thanks to the open-air setting.
Despite low-key appearances, Eden has garnered a none-too-shabby following and is more often than not a bustling evening hangout filled with a noticeably diverse crowd. Welcoming and deeply laid-back, it’s the kind of place you can (literally, as we saw one customer doing on our visit) put your feet up with a book and a glass of grape or get together with a whole gaggle of mates for a noisy catch-up and a bite to eat. A food menu currently boasts all the usual suspects, from mezze to burgers, but there are apparently plans to install a shawarma stand in the new bar area currently under construction at one end of the popular outlet.
Though service can be a little slow at times, it’s unfailingly enthusiastic and friendly, while the drinks menu features an amusing variety of mixed drinks – including TECOM’s infamous amphibious beverage – alongside a reasonable selection of hops and more limited variety of grape beverages. While prices aren’t especially keen (bottled hops are Dhs34), there are deals available on buckets, bottles of grape and mixed beverages, which make for a good value group night out.
So when the pressure of getting on the guest list or forking out an entire month’s pay simply to sit down gets too much, throw on your beach bum best to kick back with those in the know at Eden.
Garden of Eden