A-list bars in Dubai and the movies they could have been in
While Dubai’s bars haven’t set the scene for any major Hollywood blockbusters (or minor ones for that matter), the desert city has been the backdrop for some very successful movies – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol being just one. With A-list celebrities flocking to the emirate on a regular basis (and Tom Cruise dangling off the Burj Khalifa), we think Dubai could easily have been the setting for some of the most popular movies of the past 50 years. On that note we’ve selected some of the coolest watering holes, saloons, taverns, hotel bars and pubs that we think could have been the setting in a host of classics.
Belgian Beer Café: Cheers Sharing its name with the show created by Glen and Les Charles, Cheers the bar is perhaps one of the most iconic on TV. Okay, so it’s not a movie bar but in a place where ‘everybody knows your name,’ we’re willing to make an exception. Like Cheers, the Belgian Beer Café is one of those bars you’ll be glad to visit. If you’re looking for a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with tasty food, a good selection of hops and an old-fashioned, authentic interior, there are few places that can rival it. Open Sun-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Dubai Festival City (04 701 2267).
Café Belge: The Shining Café Belge is a restaurant and bar with its design rooted in 1920s Brussels. While bartenders may not be kitted out in red tuxedos, the bar’s spacious interior and opulent setting creates a vibe reminiscent of The Gold Room in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – minus the dead bartender and ghosts, of course. Open daily 6pm-2am. The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC (04 372 2323).
Chelsea Arms Pub: Shaun of the Dead The Winchester in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a classic, old-school British pub – add a couple of hops and a packet of crisps and you have the recipe for a home-away-from-home local. Dubai’s Chelsea Arms Pub channels all the traits of The Winchester, from the traditional wooden interior and a few murky characters to the weathered-looking bar stools. If, like in the movie, you find yourself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse – or simply hiding from your other half – the Chelsea Arms Pub is a comfy go-to spot. Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Deira (04 207 1721).
Hard Rock Café: Pulp Fiction The Hard Rock Café needs little introduction. The themed bar and restaurant is home to rock ’n’ roll memorabilia, live acts and authentic hearty American grub. Just like Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, expect a mix of kitsch décor, classic jukebox tracks and fat juicy burgers that you can enjoy with bottled hops. The only thing Hard Rock Café is missing is a good old twist contest and trophy presented by Marilyn Monroe. Open daily noon-2am. Hard Rock Café, Festival Boulevard, Dubai Festival City (04 232 8900).
MusicHall: Who Framed Roger Rabbit Okay, so you don’t need a password to get in to MusicHall but you will need a reservation. Just like The Ink and Paint Club in Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit, MusicHall features live entertainment from a band playing a mix of genres weekly. It may not have the powerful seduction of Jessica Rabbit, but it does have the glamour of the roaring ’20s and a speakeasy vibe. Open Thu-Fri 9pm-3am. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (056 270 8670).
Oscar’s Vine Society: Inglourious Basterds So The Basement Tavern in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds isn’t exactly a bar you would want to find yourself in – unless you’re a fan of playing ‘Heads Up’ with a bunch of gun-toting soldiers. However it does have some pretty good shorts and litres of hops. While Dubai’s Oscar’s Vine Society focuses more on its grape selection, it does have a certain cellar charm similar to The Basement – though unlike the bar in the movie, we can positively say you’ll make it out of Oscar’s alive. Open Fri-Wed 6pm-midnight, Thu 6pm-1am. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111).
Rodeo Drive: Coyote Ugly It doesn’t take a genius to work out why Coyote Ugly was so popular (even if it was fictional). Take a line-up of pretty girls, add brilliant line-dancing and cowboy hats, then set the bar on fire, and you have a successful recipe for a wild night out. Sadly, Rodeo Drive doesn’t have the same flair as Coyote Ugly in David McNally’s film of the same name. But it does have a mechanical bull, Americana décor and fun college-style drinking games. Open daily 6pm-2am. Rodeo Drive, Level 1, The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 3512).
Serafina Bar: Goodfellas The Bamboo Lounge in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is one of those bars in which it helps to know someone, who knows someone, who knows a guy – so you can enjoy a bottle and table service, sit back and take it all in. Dubai’s Serafina Bar has a similarly exclusive vibe, so throw on your smartest outfit before you head here. The venue attracts a fashionable, self-confident crowd, so be sure to turn on the charm like Henry Hill. Open daily 5pm-2am. Waldorf Astoria Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 818 2222).
Speakeasy Bar: Bugsy Malone When it comes to prohibition era speakeasies, Fat Sam’s Grand Slam Speakeasy in Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone is one of the best. While the cast may have been a bunch of children in costume, the old-school glamour, live entertainment and witty banter of Fat Sam’s was strangely appealing. Speakeasy Bar in Dubai does make an effort to reflect some of the traditions with old photography adorning the walls and classic drinks on offer, however we prefer the mischief and mayhem of the movie version. Open daily 12.30pm-3am. Ramada Plaza, JBR (04 439 8888).
The Dubliners: The Lord of the Rings The Green Dragon in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the perfect pit stop for a Hobbit after a long day of marching towards Mordor. Likewise, The Dubliners in Dubai is one of those pubs that you can perch yourself in alone after a hard day at work and not worry about looking out of place. You’ll be sure to make a friend or two – even if they are as old as the furnishings. Open daily noon-2am. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 217 0000).