The coolest new venues to open in the past six months
Time Out Dubai staff
Claw BBQ This self-consciously kooky, crustacean-themed diner is making a name for itself, as much for its gigantic drinks as it’s slop-heavy food – and perhaps even more for the rodeo bull ride at its centre. Unashamed good fun, and the food’s up to scratch. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
2Liv Launching to the public in mid-September, 2Liv is currently the newest nightclub in town. It boasts a huge LED screen, VIP upper-deck, sundown terrace with views across the Arabian Gulf – and a ‘floating DJ booth’ suspended above the dancefloor. One to watch. Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa (055 986 7180).
White Room Not strictly a new venue – instead a new party concept which transforms the Al Murooj ballroom into a riotous event once a week – The White Room is still one of the most talked-about spots in town right now. From the team behind Lebanon’s White Beirut, and offering a bespoke clubbing experience every Thursday, it’s not hard to see why. Thursdays. Al Murooj Rotana (050 443 0933).
Bapas This new concept sees a team of two Belgian brothers bringing their native cuisine to the city, served in a relaxed, lounge bar setting. Opening at the H Hotel with a launch party on September 23, the distinctive menu is designed as a selection of elevated bar food and sharing plates to be nibbled on slowly alongside drinks. Much like Spanish tapas, only from Belgium, hence the name. As unique as the moniker may sound, it turns out the Flemish small-plate concept dubbed ‘bapas’ is already popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. The H Hotel (04 501 8888).
Pure Sky Lounge The latest hot spot on JBR was yet to prove itself as we wrote this, still in soft launch phase with the official opening bash still to come. But the early indicators are more than promising: kooky modernistic theme + large outdoor terrace + central JBR location = sure-fire hit, surely? Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Residences (04 399 1111).
Supperclub Never mind its faraway location at the end of the Palm’s western frond, following the opening of MusicHall at the turn 2013, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray has now positioned itself at the heart of Dubai’s nightlife map with the opening of its second major international nightlife brand this year: Supperclub. Arriving direct from Amsterdam, the club offers a range of unique VIP rooms, coupled with a late-night dining concept where guests are presented with food without seeing a menu. Naturally, the hype has been immense. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 451 1100).
Café Habana An established Mexican-flavoured brand arriving straight from Manhattan, there’s little authentic about Café Habana, which instead deals a lovably kitsch ethos and relaxed party atmosphere. It’s always lively and well worth stopping by for a cold one. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 422 2620).
Kanpai Lounge & Restaurant This Japanese bar-restaurant has a taste Manga, and a heap of Oriental style. Neat and cosy without being imposing, and tastefully decorated to boot. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 441 9262).
The Act When it was announced that Simon Hammerstein’s outspoken Las Vegas export would be opening in Dubai, there was just one word on everyone’s lips: how? How would the club’s extroverted theatrics and raunchy stage shows – like those found in his other notorious venue, London’s headline-grabber The Box – translate to more conservative Dubai? We were promised that the venue would push boundaries – and it certainly has, with risqué stage shows that serve up a simmering, brave mix of burlesque, aerial artistry and cabaret.
Boasting the performance aspect of MusicHall, the exhibitionism of Cirque du Soir and the buzz of a new dancefloor you might find somewhere like VIP Room, The Act is a microcosm of Dubai’s current nightlife trends – and an entirely unique venue unlike anything else in the emirate. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (052 811 9900).
Sake No Hana From the team who brought us People by Crystal, and following months of veritable hype, there was no way the arrival of Sake No Hana was going to be overlooked. Still, there was a danger it might not live up to the hype – a danger this lounge/restaurant/bar neatly sidestepped in style. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 7808).
The Lotus Lounge The most hyped new hotel opening for some time, the Palm’s exclusive Anantara Resort is attracting most talk for its luxury suites, including bungalows suspended on stilts above the ocean (the first of their kind in the Middle East). Open little more than a week as we wrote this, the hotel’s bars and restaurants are currently dawdling through soft opening phases, but we reckon when word gets out the hotel’s Thai-inspired al fresco Lotus Lounge will prove a popular sundown spot. Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa (04 567 8888).
Fuego This sleek and slick bar and eatery isn’t the only new Latino-themed joint in town, but it’s central location, great mixed drinks and friendly staff are likely to keep it on the radar. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 449 0977).
Spin When we first heard about Spin, we couldn’t help but let out a giggle. A bizarre combination of table tennis hall and nightclub, founded by an older, otherwise respected Hollywood actress, on paper it sounded like the most eccentric of celebrity indulgences. But our scepticism was entirely unwarranted. Spin is, quite simply, a blast. We should have had more faith: it’s a concept Susan Sarandon and her business partners have road-tested well. After originally premiering the brand in hipster capital New York four years ago, the concept has already spread to Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Toronto. Dubai’s Spin is the first venture outside of North America, and such a shift was accommodated in typical Dubai style: the Wafi venue stars the headline-grabbing ‘world’s most expensive gold-plated table’. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 370 7707).
Tomo Taking the spot once occupied by RED Lounge – which was the Chinese answer to Buddha Bar – on Raffles' upper deck was reborn early this year with a neighbouring Far Eastern theme: Japanese restaurant Tomo. Thankfully the sister bar keeps the fantastic terrace, offering perhaps the best views of the city from Old Dubai. Raffles Dubai, Wafi (04 357 7888).
No.5 Terrace The name No.5 isn’t new; it was always the name of Ritz-Carlton’s pleasant, but somewhat overlooked, indoor lounge bar. Earlier this year the venue launched a new space in the hotel’s courtyard, in essence creating a new standalone venue. Sitting a couple of floors up in the midst of DIFC’s gleaming, angular high-rises, it’s feels remarkably spacious where it could have felt claustrophobic, offering a novel perspective by being neither on the ground floor, nor the top. Check out resident decksmith Break DJ Lobito, who spins a refreshingly knowledgeable range of funk, soul, Latin and Brazilian beats. The Ritz-Carlton DIFC (04 372 2323).
Oberoi Lobby Bar Opening nosily at the turn of summer, new Indian-themed hotel The Oberoi brings some welcome new reasons for non-residents to visit the tail-end of Business Bay. While it lacks a defining USP, this lobby lounge is as intimate as it is classy. The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1444).
Maya Lounge A spin-off of Richard Sandoval’s Latino restaurant of the same name, Maya Lounge weighs in as a meaty venue in its own right. Not new, but relaunched earlier this year, Maya’s bar area is made up of the airy downstairs lounge and (our preferred) semi-exposed upper deck. Expect a mix of authentic Mexican drinks, a cool and casual crowd, and some hip Latin beats. Not to be missed. Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa (04 399 5555).
The Q Underground This isn’t technically a club: it’s actually an empty basement space beneath sports bar The Q. And strictly speaking, it’s not new: the space has always been there, but aside from the odd private event, it hasn’t been used in years. Yet the recent birth of a number of edgy underground nights has seen this barren, nondescript venue reborn as one of Dubai’s hottest new clubs. Check out Analog Room on Thursdays, or any of the booming one-off bass, electro and disco nights. Holiday Inn Al Barsha (04 323 4333).
Lucien Belgium Café Lucien may not be as classy or as novel as many of the venues on this list, but we’ve singled it out for one simple reason – the location. While the last six months have been awash with new openings in Downtown and New Dubai, the older end of town has been staggering to keep up. So, cheers to Lucien, a not-particularly-original but well above average Belgium bar-pub, which replaces the rather more tired Old Vic that went before it. Ramada Dubai, Bur Dubai (04 351 9999).
Boutiq Ultra Lounge At the time of writing, we were eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Boutiq Ultra Lounge, which will take the space once occupied by Republique in The Address Dubai Mall. We loved that venue’s laidback charm, and while this new club signals a change of tone, we’re sure it will be worth checking when it arrives. The new venue will feature a 15 metre high ceiling, more than 35 metres of LED walls – and a ‘VVIP balcony’ overlooking the DJ booth. Opening date TBC.