Now that November is here, Dubai’s weather is at its best: with an average high of 31°C and low of 19°C (the latter usually at night), the temperature is the nicest it’s been since mid-April. To us, that means it’s finally time to enjoy a few al-fresco drinks on terraces around town.
The sun currently sets at 5.40pm (it will only be 10 minutes earlier than this by the end of the year) so you may have to leave work a little early to watch it set, but many of our favourite rooftop bars are just as inviting after dark. In a bid to inspire you over the coming week, we’ve revisited some oft-forgotten favourites and unearthed some hidden gems, as well as introducing the new – if not strictly ‘rooftop’ – Siddartha Lounge.
Al Sarab Rooftop The view: Orange desert sands as far as the eye can see. Setting: Stretch out in cosily-arranged lounge areas scattered with cushions. On cooler nights, they’ll even bring you a blanket to keep you comfortable. Cuisine: Arabic-inspired light snacks are on offer, but shisha is the name of the game. Best time to go: Just as dusk is falling (although remember this venue is an hour’s drive out of town). Open Sun-Thu 4pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-1am. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, 37 km past Arabian Ranches, towards Endurance Village (04 381 3231).
Level 43 The view: The neighbouring skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, the busy road itself and a little of the Satwa residential area behind. Setting: Perch on a bar stool for the best views of the traffic 43 storeys below, or relax on a comfortable sofa. Cuisine: This place deals mainly in quick and easy bar snacks: think olives and deep-fried risotto balls. Best time to go: After dark, when the orange glow of traffic and street lights stands out against the sky. Open daily 6pm-2am. Four Points by Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 316 9711).
Chill Rooftop The view: A panorama of Bur Dubai’s low-rise apartment blocks Setting: One of the most laid-back spots on the list, you can lounge around on comfy day beds while listening to music from one of the resident DJs. Cuisine: Surprisingly good Mediterranean-inspired bar snacks. Best time to go: Post-work drinks for those who don’t fancy being stared down by snooty fashion fans at rival bars, or pre-club if you’re going out in the area. Open Sun-Fri 7pm-3am, Sat 7pm-1.30am. Royal Ascot Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 355 8500).
RED Lounge Terrace The view: Dubai’s Vegas-style strip of skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as the towering Burj Khalifa. Setting: A super-chic vibe prevails, drawing a sophisticated crowd. Cuisine: RED benefits from its position next door to Raffles’ Chinese restaurant, Noble House, and is a great place to chomp sample-sized portions of exotic dim sum. Best time to go: At night, when the business districts are lit up. Open Tue-Wed, Sat 6pm-2am, Thu-Fri 6pm-3am. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 314 9770).
PJMC The view: This sleek little rooftop bar is actually walled off from the outside world, so doesn’t really offer views as such (unless you avert your gaze directly upwards). Setting: A slender pool is surrounded by a wooden deck, loungers, a window into the gym and, of course, the bar. Cuisine: As you’d expect from a hotel called Asiana, cuisine is distinctly Asian, with Korean dishes dominating the menu. Best time to go: Early evening, when you can enjoy a few relaxed drinks before tucking into fresh, tasty Korean fare at Sonamu restaurant downstairs. Open daily 7pm-2am. Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira (04 238 7777).
Seville’s The view: Wafi’s impressive lush, green rooftop gardens, which are all the more pleasant at this time of year. Setting: The mood is set by live acoustic guitarists strumming their stuff. Cuisine: Think paella, tapas and lashings of traditional Spanish drinks. Best time to visit: It’s happy hour from 6pm until 7pm every day, during which they’re rolling prices back to those of 1998 (the year they first opened). Open Sat-Mon noon-1am; Tue-Fri noon-2am. Wafi Rooftop, Oud Metha (04 324 4777).
Siddartha Lounge The view: The Media City side of the marina and its neighbouring skyline. Setting: A whitewash of sun loungers and retro-style furniture surround an electric-blue pool. Cuisine: Asian Mediterranean, so expect sharing plates offering seafood, bruschetta, spring rolls and salads. Best time to go: Around 9pm, when it gets a little busier – the perfect time to enjoy drinks before you head out clubbing. Open daily 6pm-midnight. Grosvenor House Tower Two, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
The Rooftop The view: There’s not much of a view here apart from a little of the hotel’s gardens, but the intricate Arabesque decor is such that there doesn’t need to be. Setting: Majilis-style seating and bar stools add authenticity to this Arabic-themed spot. Cuisine: Mostly Arabic bar snacks, which are tasty but a little on the small side. Best time to go: Catch the sun’s last rays from 5pm, but linger until later for a more buzzing atmosphere. Open daily 5pm-1am. One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 9999).
Vista Rooftop Bar & Restaurant The view: Dubai Media City and the Shoreline Apartments along the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah. Setting: Cosy booths and wooden decking lend this an air of romance, though the reasonably-priced carafes of mixed drinks make it perfect for a big get-together too. Cuisine: Well-presented international fare, with a good mix of hearty meals and light bites. Try the vegetarian sharing platter if you fancy some casual nibbles. Best time to go: Sunset (which is around 5.45pm at the moment) to make sure you nab one of the comfy booths. Open daily 5pm-1.30am. Holiday Inn Dubai Knowledge Village (04 427 5500).
The Pool Bar The view: Depending on where you sit, you can gaze at either Burj, the sea or right down Sheikh Zayed Road. Setting: Super-relaxed, with wide, comfortable chairs and soft lighting. Cuisine: There’s little in the way of light snacks, but there are typical poolside meal options such as sandwiches and smoothies if you fancy something bigger. Best time to go: Noon on a clear day or just after sunset, when you can see for miles. Open daily 11am-10pm. Pullman Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 308 0000).
An odd sight indeed Three alternative views to accompany your beverages.
Après It’s an oldie, but it’s a goodie – these ski-slope views never cease to amaze. Sitting in a snug cabin while gazing at artificial snow, skiers in salopettes and small children tumbling around in zorbs reminds you what a beautifully bizarre place Dubai is. Open daily 10am-1am. Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 341 2575).
India Palace While this Indian restaurant is a sure-fire takeaway option, we recommend dining at the Ibn Battuta outlet to take in views of the life-size Imperial Chinese boat grounded between the cinema and Go Sports. If you didn’t know the mall was themed around the travels of the famous explorer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that something hallucinogenic had been slipped into your chicken handi. Open daily 12.30pm-1pm. Ibn Battuta Mall, China Court (04 368 5569).
Ossiano Eating at Ossiano gives you an idea of what it might feel like to be a ’70s Bond villain. Hushed waiters dressed like Dr No bring you artfully constructed seafood creations, while you gaze out at sharks and stingrays cruising menacingly around Atlantis’s huge aquarium. Open daily 7pm-11pm. Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).