We’re sold on this new haunt in the heart of Downtown that puts on a faultless show of serene sophistication.
When Dubai’s Arabesque Qamardeen Hotel became Vida Downtown last year, the new name brought with it an entirely new visage. Traditional touches were replaced with vastly more contemporary interiors – albeit with a decidedly Middle Eastern feel. Stage 2 is perhaps the best embodiment of this cool, old-meets-new and particularly boutique vibe.
Positioned at the very centre of the hotel, just off the main reception area, the lounge feels a little bit like a dream living room – the sort you might walk into someone’s home and feel immediately envious of, and even more so when you realise how at-home you feel on the sofa. Old maps and collections of brass compasses that adorn the partitions between the lounge and the lobby suggest an old-fashioned travel theme, mirrored in rustic lanterns and period trunks that serve as tables around the room, all off-set by minimalist, neutral soft furnishings.
A small outdoor terrace overlooks the modestly sized but stylish swimming pool below and out to Downtown. Open from breakfast time, the venue seems particularly popular among residents in the area for its daily happy hour, which runs 5pm to 8pm, along with the grape and cheese night on Wednesdays, where Dhs125 will get you three drinks and access to the buffet. It’s the serenity of Stage 2 that sets it aside from other places to get a drink in the neighbourhood, separating it from the likes of sports pubs such as Nezesaussi and the super-swanky Calabar, making a hit with older crowds.
It certainly helps that everyone who works in the bar seems to have a good sense of humour and is helpful and engaging, so even though the lounge has an ambience of calm and quiet, punters never feel as though they should be whispering to one another. It’s the perfect place to linger after an intimate brunch with friends, or even relax alone with a fine drink and a great book (Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile would be an excellent choice for such a setting). Stage 2 is elegant, comfortable and welcoming, and absolutely one-of-a-kind.