The good times are back, here's where to head for a party as the winter months kick in...
Time Out Dubai Staff
1897: Low-level lighting and low-slung sofas with padded banquettes hugging the walls are countered with a laid-back atmosphere. A DJ sets the tone with chilled beats, and the drinks menu has some surprising combinations – lavender and black pepper martini, anyone? Kempinski Mall of the Emirates
(04 34 409 5999). Open daily 4pm-2.30am
360°: Situated at the end of its own pier and overlooking the Burj Al Arab , 360° could well have the best location in the city. Head down on Friday or Saturday afternoon and the bar is transformed into a hedonistic electronic playground. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8744). Open Fri-Sat 4pm-2am; Sun-Thu 5pm-2am
The 400 Club: A super-exclusive club catering for an upmarket, well-dressed, posy crowd. Expect people to be more interested in keeping up with the Joneses than having a good-old knees-up on the dance floor. Music policy is a mix of Arabic, house and R&B. Fairmont Dubai (04 332 4900). Open Tue, Thu & Fri 10pm-3am
Alpha hosts a variety of bands and DJs among an interesting array of lime green and purple velvet furniture. The diverse range of musical nights offer everything from eclectic indieelectro to heavy metal, house and urban tunes. Alpha also attracts an extremely varied crowd. The club is cosy (read: small), with a bar downstairs and snug gallery areas upstairs, accessed by a glass lift. Le Méridien Village
(04 217 0000). Open Sat-Thu 6pm-3am; Fri 4pm-3am
A two-roomed club, The Apartment has a lavish lounge and a slightly more down-to-earth club room. It’s pretty dark and smoky but you can find a DJ spinning R&B and hip-hop in the lounge room and you will often see some genuinely impressive moves on the dance floor. Jumeirah Beach Hotel
(04 406 8000). Open daily 9pm-3am
Après is a ski lodge-meets-’70s lounge-meets-DJ-bar that somehow manages to find a happy compromise between its many guises. Stocked with every conceivable drink under the sun, the staff whip up arguably the best cocktails in the whole city, and the food is pretty good too. A bar located in a theme park/shopping mall really shouldn’t work, but this one defies the odds – almost as much as the snow dome it sits next to. Mall of the Emirates (04 341 2575) Open daily 10am-2am.
Set on the ground floor of Rydges Plaza Dubai , the ever-popular Aussie Legends is, as the name implies, a ‘down under’ theme bar with a small dance floor and a well-used pool table. Antipodean tipples abound, including bottles of Crown lager and, when supplies allow, the joy that is Victoria Bitter. Big-screen sporting action draws in an impressively large crowd. Rydges Plaza Dubai (04 398 2222) Open daily 3pm-3am.
There’s a plethora of classy venues in Dubai, but the vertiginous Bar 44 – so-called as it proudly sits on the 44th floor of the Grosvenor House – has plenty to elevate its standing. The views across new Dubai are exceptional, while the exquisite cocktail menu will have you revisiting the bar time and time again. Grosvenor House (04 399 8888). Open Fri-Wed 6pm-2am; Thu 6pm-3am
This wood-decked, sun-drenched beach bar is permanently packed – you’ll struggle to find a table, particularly at the weekend. Despite being set in one of the more touristy locations, Barasti still generates a cheery local ambience. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina , Al Sufouh Road (04 399 3333). Open daily 11am-2am
Set in the Madinat’s bustling souk, BarZar’s enticing waterside terrace pulls in the punters. There’s enough space inside if it’s too hot – with the tables and chairs spread across two floors. Together with its wide variety of drinks, regular promotions, friendly staff and laid-back atmosphere you’ll usually find BarZar buzzing with happy customers. Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6197). Open daily 4pm-2am
The Bed is one of the most unique venues in Dubai – how many places, after all, are located in a dome on the end of a pier? It’s worth a look for that reason alone, but it’s also the only club in the Festival City area, which – combined with its focus on Arabic music, a neglected genre in much of Dubai – should help it do well. InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111). Open Wed- Sat 7pm-3am
Belgian Beer Café:
The competitively priced beers here are strictly Belgian (including Stella for the less adventurous). Feel like a Borrower while clutching a huge glass of Hoegaarden with both hands, or sip on fruit beer from a wine-glass-shaped pint. Snack on fish and chips or mussels while enjoying the buzzing atmosphere inside, or the more relaxed vibe on the terrace with a view of the creek. Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City (04 701 2222). Open daily 6pm-2am
This Aussie-themed sports bar finally makes the Palm’s social scene worth shouting about. Although hard to find on the beachside of the Shoreline apartments, once you’re there, you’ll feel like you’ve really arrived. The light, airy bar looks out onto a sun-dappled terrace that in turn gives way to a pool, landscaped gardens and a beach. The stunning setting has already attracted the surfy chic set.
Shoreline Apartments 1-5, Palm Jumeirah (04 427 0515). Open daily 10am-midnight.
Blue Bar easily made it into our list for its true originality – it is Dubai’s one authentic jazz and, obviously, blues bar, showcasing some genuine local talent. But that’s not the only reason to pay a visit. Located on the ground floor of the businesslike Novotel, Blue Bar combines fashionable decor, cigars and an unusually good selection of draught Belgian beers. Just make sure that when you go live music is scheduled. Novotel , Sh Zayed Road (04 332 0000). Open daily 12.30pm-2am.
This swanky wannabe Parisian club ranks as one of the most exclusive venues in the city. Boudoir attracts a predominantly Lebanese crowd dressed to impress. The music varies, but it always comes to a halt when a bottle of bubbly is bought. Yes, that’s right; they celebrate the arrival of champagne by cutting the music out. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (04 345 5995). Open daily 9pm-3am
Still packing them in, Buddha Bar is a chic and only slightly pretentious bar-cum-lounge. The atmosphere is more chilled than many similar venues and the food is superb. Grosvenor House (04 399 8888). Open daily 8pm-2am
With a lavish, Swarovskisplattered interior, rumoured to have cost in the region of US$30million (Dhs110million), this place is seriously decadent, and seriously expensive – but then what would you expect from Roberto ‘King of Bling’ Cavalli? Definitely worth a look if you’ve got the cash to splash. The Fairmont Dubai (04 332 5555). Open daily noon-2am
A restaurant with a large semicircular bar and outside pouryour- own beer pumps, which, sadly, don’t seem to get much use. It’s busy most nights, but be sure to go there on the weekends for its great-value a la carte brunch.
The Aviation Club, Garhoud (04 282 9333). Open Sat-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-2am
Comprising four rooms that often feature different genres (typically house, R&B/hip-hop, indie and chill-out), it has probably the widest appeal of any of the city’s clubs. As a result it pulls in a diverse, up-for-it crowd, especially on the monthly ‘cheesy’ nights. The garden is one of the best outdoor areas in clubland. Al Nasr Leisureland , Oud Metha (04 337 9470). Open daily 8pm-3am
This rooftop bar has free Wi-Fi, reflexologists (random), fake grass (even more random) and, along with the usual table and chairs, it has four-poster beds and ‘love seats’, allowing for everything from raucous group parties to romantic tête-à-têtes. Pretty odd place, then. Royal Ascot Hotel , Bur Dubai (04 355 8500). Open daily noon-2am
A number of wine bars have sprung up across the city in recent years, yet Cin Cin still ranks among the finest. Head into the main bar area on any given night and you’ll find a good vibe and a lively but smart crowd. We actually prefer the sofas and Sheikh Zayed Road views in the Cigar Lounge, where Cuban rollers play perfect sidekick to a warming spirit or a glass of red – a slice of Dubai luxury that makes the traffic jams outside seem worthwhile. Almost. The Fairmont Dubai (04 332 5555). Open daily 6pm-2am.
As British as launching complaint after complaint about the weather while bemoaning the lack of buses, Double Decker is an unashamed Anglophile of a bar. It might not harbour the most adventurous atmosphere, but with excellent service and a resident DJ armed with party tunes, it’s a frequently packed pub.
Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites Dubai, Defence Roundabout (04 321 1111). Open daily noon-3am
A cosy Asian-themed venue, Ginseng has a large array of cocktails and, while it’s stylish, it’s not as pretentious as many similar bars in the city. Pop next door to Plan B for a boogie. Fairmont Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 4777). Open Sat-Mon 7pm- 1am; Tue-Fri 7pm-2am
Hive has got a large al-fresco terrace where you can enjoy sipping on your cocktails on the edge of the Burj Dubai Lake with views of The Address. The inside doesn’t have much atmosphere, so take an outdoor pew when it’s cool enough, sit back and enjoy a mojito or two. Souk Al Bahar, Burj Dubai Old Town (04 425 2296). Open daily noon-3am
This snug basement bar has the feel of a speakeasy thanks to an unmarked door and staircase next to the hotel car park. And due to its pint-sized proportions, it fills up quickly at the weekend with a mixed, vibrant crowd and music selection. Metropolitan Hotel (04 343 0000). Open daily 7pm-1am
iKandy Bar: A sleepier version of 360°, the contemporary white, ambient sounds and al fresco rooftop setting on the Shangri La’s fourth floor make it popular among the city’s pretty pack (hence the wince-worthy name, no doubt). Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed, (04 352 0900). Open daily 10am-late
The Irish Village:
A great option if you’re looking for a pint, a nibble and a crowd to enjoy them with. The major draw during the winter months is the fantastic outside terrace that hugs a duck pond.
The Aviation Club, Garhoud (04 282 4750). Open Fri-Tue 11am- 1am; Wed-Thu 11am-2.15am
One of the best live music venues in this scene-starved city, JamBase is a place that prizes style as highly as substance. The furniture is artfully angular and the decor art-deco chic. Thankfully, JamBase has the mouth to back up its immaculately cut trousers, with a rather good house band. Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6914). Open daily 7pm-2am
The more recently opened branch of the popular Left Bank (the other being in Souk Madinat Jumeirah) is pulling in plenty of punters. Thanks to its superb, long list of sophisticated cocktails,delicious bar food – try the fish and chips – and plush decor, it’s a guaranteed people pleaser. It can be a struggle to find enough seats for a large gang, but once settled there’s a pleasantly intimate vibe. Staff are friendly and attentive, plus there’s a veritable rainbow of bottles behind the bar. Souk Al Bahar , Burj Dubai Old Town (04 368 4501). Open daily noon-1am
Long’s is one of those places ruddy-faced expats refer to, with a crinkly grin, as being a ‘Dubai institution’. Certainly, some of the punters here could do with being removed to a facility of some sort, but the reason it’s such a longstanding favourite is because it’s a fairly authentic reproduction of a spit ‘n’ sawdust British pub. Towers Rotana Hotel (04 312 2202). Open daily noon-2.30am
The Music Room:
Once renowned for its Filipino rock band Rockspiders, The Music Room has since broadened its scope to encompass reggae nights, Brazilian carnivals and occasional appearances by the likes of The Proclaimers. A good venue for a solidly entertaining night out. Majestic Hotel , Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888). Open daily 6pm-3am
Located on the 63rd floor of this chic hotel, Neos offers some incredible views of modern Dubai, while the decor inside harks back to another era, with art-deco paintings and waiting staff in bow ties and white tuxedos. The food and drink delivered by the impeccably mannered staff is faultlessly five-star – even if finding something without foiegras in it is a mission. The Address , Downtown Burj Dubai (04 423 8888). Open daily 6pm-2.30am
The name may be utterly unpronounceable, but Nezesaussi is usually buzzing with animated punters. The curved bar should be generously populated by sports fans, and the restaurant full of favourite dishes from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Try the ‘Ref’s Advocate’ – three giant skewers of tender beef, juicy chicken and flavoursome lamb. Al Manzil Hotel , Burj Dubai Old Town (04 428 5888). Open Sun-Wed 6pm-2am; Thu-Sat noon-2am
Okku is one of the few places that attracts gourmands and scenesters alike. The latter can perch at the bar, where supermodel wannabes hobnob with the rich realtors left in town. It’s no wonder they like the place, the decor is cool (check out the black lights and fish tank bearing iridescent jellyfish for evidence) and the cocktails deliciously sophisticated. Monarch Dubai (04 501 8777). Open daily 7pm-2am
Oscar’s Vine Society:
A noted member of Dubai’s small wine bar scene. The fare features oysters, cheese, cold cuts and a truly splendid black pudding with roasted apples and mashed potatoes. Oscar’s also has a good range of grapes on the menu. Crowne Plaza Dubai (800 276 963). Open Sat-Thu noon-2am; Fri 6pm-2am
This sports bar is hardly one for the posing set, but it is a popular haunt for footie fans. The big screens and individual TVs at the bottom of each table ensure you won’t miss any of the big matches.
Country Club Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 398 8840). Open daily noon-3am
In the cooler months, the setting at QD’s is as evocative as any in the city. As wafts of shisha whisper through the air, lazy dhows chug by against the twinkling backdrop of the creek at twilight. The perfect way to while away an evening. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club (04 295 6000). Open daily 6pm-2am
With Persian nights, house and R&B nights, Quantum is luring in the party-going crowd. Podiums are dotted around a central square bar, lasers light up the dancers and there are only a few seating areas, so this is the place to head if you’re in the mood for an all-night boogie. Crowne Plaza Dubai (800 276 963). Open daily 10pm-3am
Rock Bottom Café:
Officially a bar and restaurant rather than a club (or café, for that matter), Rock Bottom comes alive as other venues kick out, pulling in an impressive crowd with its proven blend of bullfrogs (a highly potent, luminous green, cocktail) and a resident DJ and live band. There’s even an in-house shawarma joint for dancers with the munchies. Regent Palace Hotel , Bur Dubai (04 396 3888). Open daily noon-3am
The Roof Top:
A sedate sipping station, The Roof Top remains one of the most magnificent drinking venues in the city. The views, which take in the serene Gulf and the Palm Jumeirah, can’t be beaten, and the soundtrack of commerical chilled beats peppered with the odd classic is perfectly judged. Arabian Court, One&Only Royal Mirage , Al Sufouh Road (04 399 9999). Open daily 5pm-1am
Being the nightclub at Atlantis, Sanctuary is unsurprisingly exclusive and expensive. If you take a seat you have to order a drink off the menu – which only serves spirits by the bottle. However, it has some good house nights, a luxurious decor, great service and a nice outdoor area. Atlantis , Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000). Open daily 9.30pm-3am
Another of Dubai’s three-in-one specials, Scarlett’s is a popular bar/restaurant/nightclub with a Dixieland theme.. It has become a bit of a Dubai institution with its young, mostly affluent and invariably well-dressed crowd spending its time drinking and attempting to strike up conversations with members of the opposite sex. It follows that Tuesday's ladies' night is particularly popular. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road,(04 330 0000). Open daily noon-3am
Sophisticated, classy and dead trendy, this is where the beautiful people go to play, pose and look pretty; you will not see an ounce of spare body fat in the place. Tuesday nights are rammed, but phone ahead for reservations or arrive as a couple, as the door policy is notoriously anti single males. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (04 346 1111). Open daily 7pm-3am
Located in the heart of Media City, the open-air Tamanya Terrace is a hive of activity every weeknight during the cooler months thanks to media types talking shop. There’s also a good range of live music at the bar, with regular performances from jazz, soul and, occasionally, hip-hop acts. Radisson Blu Hotel Media City
(04 366 9111). Open daily 5pm-2am
If there’s one thing that summers in Dubai were designed for, it’s drinking, eating and watching as much sport as is humanly possible. It’s with open arms, then, that we embrace the latest – and according to the management – biggest sports bar to grace Dubai. With more televisions per square inch than Mike TV’s dream living room, and with a range of seating (there are beanbags, high chairs, tables and bar stools), you’re never short of a good view. And while the main sports like football and cricket take precedence, on our visit they happily embraced badminton, both rugby codes, Formula One and tennis. Ramee Royal Hotel , near Al Maktoum Bridge (04 334 4088). Open daily 7pm-1am.
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge:
Trader Vic’s has carved out a niche for itself in Dubai; there’s a branch at the Madinat and another over at the Crowne Plaza, while the world’s second Mai Tai Lounge – an extension of the Trader Vic’s brand – can be found in Dubai Marina. Not a place for a quiet, intimate chat, but good if you like your cocktails.
Al Fattan Towers, Dubai Marina (04 399 8993). Open daily 6pm-2am
The Underground Pub:
A Brit boozer based on that noted English institution... the tube. Still, decent sports coverage and a lively atmosphere make it popular on match days. Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa (04 399 5000). Open daily noon-2.30am
Laid-back elegance at premium prices has well-heeled conversationalists heading up to this swanky 51st-floor bar, which boasts one of the finest views in Dubai. Arrive early in the evening to watch the sun go down and the lights go up across the city, an experience made all the sweeter thanks to the bar’s mouth-watering cocktail list. Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel , (04 330 0000). Open daily 6pm-3am
Incorporating elements of chic wine-bar, sushi restaurant, swanky drinking spot and nightclub, this ‘Frankenstinian’ venue somehow manages to be more than the sum of its parts. It’s not the cheapest place in town, but it’s one of the few upmarket venues to stay on the right side of the classy/ gaudy divide. Le Méridien Village (04 217 0000). Open daily 5pm-3am
The reason for this permapacked Irish pint pit’s success is simple: the proprietors have lined up a deluge of deals to entice the budget-conscious hop admirer. Try the raucous Friday brunch for Dhs85 including all you can eat, plus fi ve drinks. Ascot Hotel , Bank Street, Bur Dubai (04 352 0900). Open daily 10am-late