Lively sports bars, pumping clubs and some classy joints in Bur Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Chill: Bur Dubai is one of the last places we’d expect to find a rooftop bar. Oh, the newer parts of the city are awash with them, sure, but the Bur has always struck us as more of a grungy hotel bar kind of place. So imagine our surprise when we were invited to a ‘chic rooftop oasis’ from the architect who designed Chi@ the Lodge and Keva. First impressions were grand: clearly going for an off-kilter design aesthetic, the expansive rooftop is clad in teak, slate, pink paint and, er, fake grass. Towards the edges of the venue, the tables and chairs give way to four-poster beds and love seats, allowing for everything from raucous group parties to romantic tête-à-têtes.
Royal Ascot Hotel, Call 04 355 8500 for reservations
Barrels: This is a cosy spot for munching comfort food while gazing at one of the umpteen TVs showing sport. There are even private screens by the tables that line the walls, so your view of the football, rugby, trout fishing or men grappling each other in tiny pants from the confines of a cage will remain unfettered. The main part of the dining area is made up of bar stools around beer barrels, in keeping with the bar’s name. The food is pretty greasy, and won’t win any awards for aiding a balanced diet, but it’s unlikely that the punters are much bothered.
Majestic Hotel Tower, Call 04 359 8888 for reservations
Club Mint: Bur Dubai’s Manhattan Hotel, located just down the road from the Dhow Palace Hotel, seems to have cornered the market on late-night curios. And while its downstairs bar, the blue-lit, spaceship-like High Mile Club, is simply quirky, Club Mint is downright baffling. Are we overselling it? Maybe, but every time we’ve gone in there, we’ve come out not quite knowing how we feel about the place. A shadow-wreathed black hole of a bar, the tiny, dark surroundings might be perfect for a clandestine meeting or a quiet chat with friends if the speakers weren’t blaring out thumping R&B. We suppose this might be the ‘club’ part of the title, but this is entirely unlike any nightclub you’ll find in Dubai.
Call 04 325 9000 for reservations
Goodfellas: This place is largely geared around that most fanatical of pastimes – televised football. The peculiar moniker bears little apparent relevance to the interior, which instead feels like a mix between a Satwa football shirt store and a plasma screen showroom. When the beautiful game is being shown, you can keep up with score on one of the numerous screens dotted around the place, or if you are not a footie aficionado, you can merely take advantage of the numerous match deals on drinks. The great sporting accompaniment – the burger – is the pinnacle of the gastronomic options in Goodfellas. Straightforward food for a straightforward venue.
Regal Plaza Hotel, Call 04 355 6633 for reservations
Music Room: The Music Room is on our list for one reason and one reason only: good live music. The venue’s energetic and lovable rock band provides a rare opportunity to headbang and wear head-to-toe black in our rather ostentatious home city. There are also pool tables and drink deals to lure you in – but you really need to be in the mood for the dungeon-like lack of windows and ‘Ace of Spades’ at deafening volume to venture here. And, as it happens, we often are.
Majestic Hotel Tower, Call 04 359 8888 for reservations
Time Café: 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 gets so addictive that sports you previously considered to be as mundane as daytime radio have now become firm favourites. Tucked away near the Maktoum bridge roundabout in Ramee Royal Hotel, it holds pool tables, two private rooms, a dining area and a Cheers-style bar. 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, Call 04 334 4088 for reservations
Submarine: The Submarine Bar, housed in the basement of the Dhow Palace Hotel, is small and dark, but far from crammed. The startling neon entrance is only a warm up for the equally garish bar and illuminated tables, and the portholes on the wall add to the nautical theme. Arriving at this time, however, means that you can grab a couch and enjoy table service, choosing from a good selection of beers, spirits and cocktails. Find a table near the stage, as later in the evening a resident band power-up their amps and in a heartbeat, the place comes to life. A thoroughly entertaining troupe that plays the most unlikely requests, they launched into our deliberately difficult calls without batting an eyelid.
Dhow Palace Hotel, Call 04 359 9992 for reservations
Rock Bottom Café: Although it’s officially a bar and restaurant rather than a club, Rock Bottom only really comes alive as other bars kick out. Something of a cattle market, RBC still pulls in an impressive crowd with its proven blend of bullfrogs (a highly potent cocktail that utilises all the white spirits plus the magic of Red Bull) and a resident DJ and live band, who pump out the pleasers until closing time. There’s even an in-house shawarma joint for dancers with the munchies.
Regent Palace Hotel, Call 04 396 3888 for reservations
High Mile Club: Baffling. Befuddling. Odd. We’re not sure what your expectations are for a small bar in a Bur Dubai hotel, but we’re certain Mile High Club neatly sidesteps all of them. Bathed in a hypnotic blue hue and decked out with plastic chairs and wall panels, the venue is ostensibly based around aviation – hence the name – but looks like something from Star Wars. While the decor makes it feel as though it ought to be full of laser-toting space buccaneers, The High Mile Club’s actual clientele is more interested in having a quiet drink than loud bar brawls – good news, since the tiny space would make that a complete disaster.
The Manhattan Hotel, Call 04 325 9000 for reservations
Waxy's: It might have shortened its name from ‘Waxy O’Conner’s’ to the slightly more catchy ‘Waxy’s’, but for the most part this boozer remains exactly the same as it ever was, right down to the well-worn chairs and scuffed wallpaper. But as they say, if it ain’t broke… You’d be hard-pushed to call Waxy’s the most salubrious place in Dubai. But just like a plate of cheap, greasy food, few expats in Dubai can resist its charms, at least every now and again. Indeed, the reason for the sun-starved pint pit’s success is simple: the proprietors have lined up a deluge of deals to entice budget-conscious pub-goers. This is a place that thrives on big crowds.
Ascot Hotel, Call 04 352 0900 for reservations