Need a new nightspot? Take a look at our list of the best new bars in Dubai
Bar DADA: Bar DADA calls itself ‘a haven for mature individuals seeking intelligent nightlife.’ Although the description reeks of singleton desperation, the concept behind this new Ibis venue is spot-on. How many 30-somethings have stood jostling in a nightclub queue with a bunch of scarily young-looking party-goers with the sinking feeling that they’re neither cool nor young enough to cut it with the in-crowd anymore? So, will DADA give us a new lease of life? Well, the welcome is genuinely warm and pretension free, but the current lack of bodies in the room makes it difficult to judge what sort of vibe it will settle into. It has potential but could do with a few tweaks. The room is divided into two areas and the first feels like an extension of the hotel lobby – never a good thing. The ambient lighting in the second is too low and the music too loud for grown-up conversation. A slight lighting and musical treshuffle, however, and this lounge-club may take off in a big way.
Bar 44: With its swanky décor, top floor location and ceiling-high windows on all sides, Bar 44 is reminiscent of Emirates Towers’ Vu’s Bar – the only difference is that Bar 44 actually has a readily accessible view. Based around a large central bar offering 44 different types of champagne, the place is huge, with pockets of intimate sofas scattered around every corner. Better still, there’s a giant balcony that will support the hottest tables in town once the weather cools. The soundtrack is languid beats with the occasional jazz noodling and the cocktail menu packs more punches than a prizefighter in a paper bag. Once the construction dust settles over Al Souf, this already good bar will become truly great.
Chaos: Hidden behind a labyrinth of sterile, whitewashed walls and with only a lame David Bowie remix to greet you, Chaos isn’t the most welcoming of watering holes. Intriguingly on our visit, the surly staff told us that we weren’t allowed to sit at any of the nine vacant tables, even though it had just gone midnight, as they had all been reserved. The lack of placards and people told a different story but our arguments fell on deaf ears. The décor is reasonable: white sheets and wafer-thin seats combine to give a laidback, laissez-faire feel. On the plus side, the drinks are cheap and the lighting is dark and moody, giving sun-scorched eyes a welcome rest. But a much better idea is to take a left at Chaos and end up in the cosy confines of the Red Lion Pub instead.
Double Decker Pub: For all the symmetrical, turreted, cartoon baddie fortress-style splendour of the Al Murooj Rotana Hotel, the Double Decker Pub delivers a welcome lack of sophistication. We sashayed into the hotel’s grand lobby to ask for directions, only to leave the building completely moments later, traippsing over a construction site, and ambling down a little road to an unmarked door presided over by a heavy-duty security guard. Given that DD has been open for next to no time, it’s remarkable that it’s full of people who look like they haven’t moved from their chairs since 1985. Unless the Murooj has resorted to rent-a-crowd tactics, they’ve done a fine job of recreating an old-school expat boozer so swiftly. And in spite of the undistinguished location it’s a nice enough venue, cavernous and colonial, with Premiership football radiating from every corner. The wine list is impressive and the selection of bottled drinks is fantastic, with such under-represented brands as Pilsner Urquell and Kingfisher on sale at a decent price.
Embassy: Does Dubai really need another ‘exclusive’ venue peddling vocal house? Apparently so, according to the newly-launched Embassy at the Shangri-La which will no doubt be trying to steal Peppermint’s thunder with its own night for the beautiful people. We can’t tell you what the place actually looks like, as security is ludicrously tight in the run-up to opening. Still, what we do know is that Hed Kandi, along with DJs Danny Neville and Sticky Fingers, will be hosting the opening night on Friday 9, that the venue is a black leather and chrome ballroom with space for up to 2,000 revelers and that the bouncers are under orders to smile at everyone when they come in. Which will make a nice change.
Red Square: Shabby opulence is the dish of the day at this Soviet-styled bar at the Moscow Hotel. When we visited on a Saturday it was Ladies’ night, meaning that the male member of the party had to pay Dhs50 for entrance and one free drink while the ladies got the same drink for free. Live entertainment is provided by a mulleted monstrosity of a band who massacre songs by Dire Straits, Hoobastank and, erm, Dire Straits again. When the band thankfully retires they’re replaced by a brace of emaciated dancers who wriggle along gamely to Slavic-sounding trance. Drinks are delivered by a coterie of stern-looking waitresses dressed in what appear to be synthetic interpretations of national dress. Despite the fact that the bar was practically empty when we arrived, a determined looking member of staff barred our entrance to the comfortable looking booths in the seating area, which are apparently reserved solely for diners. Red Square gets full marks for authenticity but, then again, reality can be vastly overrated.
The Terrace: Given its opulent, arabesque surroundings, The Terrace at the brand new Park Hyatt hotel doesn’t really fit in. While the rest of the complex resembles the extravagant home of a medieval Persian aristocrat, The Terrace looks like a cricket pavilion clad in white, uPVC double glazing. Thankfully, The Terrace’s interior is a little more sophisticated with low lighting, random bronze plinths, and chrome furniture. Despite being labeled a vodka bar, their selection of the clear stuff isn’t as extensive as you might have hoped, with about a dozen or so mainly Russian and Polish brews on offer. But their large beer and wine list, not to mention the tasty and eminently reasonable menu (the spicy beef salad is sublime), more than makes up for it. Given that it has just opened, we can forgive a few of the more grating aspects (ear-splitting jazz-funk, for instance) but when the weather cools and we can enjoy the huge outside terrace, this bar could well become an in-crowd favourite.
Traiteur Bar: If Dubai had a design award, Traiteur would win top prize for being the best-looking bar in the city. It’s simply stunning to look at with its beautifully crafted (and for once, immensely comfortable) bar stools and modern art pieces. But the pièce de résistance is their pulsating ceiling. Much like Herzog and De Meuron’s groundbreaking Allianz football stadium in Munich, the ceiling gradually changes colour, bathing the bar in warm shades of orange, violet and yellow. But it won’t be Traiteur’s stunning aesthetics that keep you coming back again and again: its mammoth wine list is among the best in the city. If we had a complaint, it was that there are few wines you can buy by the glass, the cheapest being the light and palatable Duas Quintas at Dhs35 a pop. But it’s a small sacrifice to make for an evening of beautifully-crafted grandeur.