With three months of long, hot days firmly on the horizon, Sofia Vyas rounds up 12 great bars to chill out in over summer
Summer is coming. And it has rolled around far quicker than we thought possible. With pool and beach days pretty much off the cards and little chance of sitting outside without becoming a puddle, it’s time to move the party indoors. Ideally to one of these excellent spots.
Cook Hall This sleek, industrial American gastropub has a selection of craft hops, classic mixed drinks and excellent grub. It has a soundtrack of retro rock, runs a popular quiz night and there’s live music three nights a week, too, plus a pool table and dart board to keep you entertained. Open daily noon-1am. The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 435 5577).
Hard Rock Cafe This loud and proud live music spot is still going strong after almost 20 years on the city’s music scene. Head over to the Facebook page for information on live events, but expect plenty of rock (obviously) alongside all manner of other genres from reggae to R&B. Order a platter of fried food and settle in for the show. Open daily noon-2am. Dubai Festival City (04 232 8900).
INDIE This DIFC lounge cropped up on no less than five shortlists at our last Music & Nightlife Awards, walking away with four Highly Commended accolades, including one for Bar of the Year. The food is fantastic, the live bands are talented and its rotation of weekly themed nights range from French to retro. Open Sun-Fri 5pm-2am; Sat 1pm-2am. Gate Village 5, DIFC (055 455 6106).
Jazz@Pizza Express With pizza this good and live music seven nights a week, this cool little bar and restaurant is an easy place to while away several hours. The music isn’t always strictly jazz, but this bustling, modern little venue is one of the best places for a low-key night out in the city. Open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. Cluster A, JLT (04 441 6342).
Little Black Door The perfect place to find respite from the heat, this cosy bar has been designed to feel as though it’s hidden in the basement of an old townhouse. Gothic metalwork, chandeliers, moody lighting and exposed brick all come together to create what must be one of the most atmospheric lounges in the city. Sip creative beverages (including one described as lemon pie in a glass) and nibble posh bar snacks such as truffled pecorino cheese and lobster poutine. Open Mon-Sun, 7.30pm-3am. The Conrad, Sheikh Zayed Road (055 623 1620).
Lock, Stock & Barrel It would be ludicrous for us to put together this list without mentioning our 2017 Bar of the Year. There are so many things that we love about this constantly buzzing place, from its soundtrack of indie pop hits, to its cracking resident band 13 Daze, to the brilliant bar bites. There’s plenty of entertainment in the form of pool tables and even a Whack-An-Ex arcade game in the ladies’ loos. Extra chilled-out by day and packed with a party crowd by night, there are few (read: no) better bars for whiling away the summer months. Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am; Fri-Sun 2pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (04 514 9195).
Lucky Voice Sing the summer away at this bright and quirky karaoke bar that has a ’70s disco vibe. Batten down the hatches in a pod to belt out your favourite tunes or hit the dancefloor outside and groove to funky tracks from the likes of Prince and Grandmaster Flash. Open Sat-Wed 5pm-3am; Thu 4pm-3am; Fri 1pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (800 58259).
McGettigan’s Madinat Jumeirah When it comes to an evening spent in the pub, the various branches of McGettigan’s have long been top of our list. It’s newest venue in Madinat Jumeirah even more so. It’s a little more laid-back than DWTC or JLT, with cosy nooks and corners to setting into, and plenty of sports screens for footie fans. A big part of the venue is also non-smoking, so you can relax and tuck into bar food without an oppressive haze in the air. Perfect. Open Sun 9am-2am; Mon-Wed noon-2am; Thu noon-3am; Fri-Sat 9am-3am. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 447 0219).
Miss Lily’s Book ahead for this busy bar and restaurant. Miss Lily’s hasn’t wavered in popularity since it opened last year, and it’s easy to see why. There’s a fun-loving, chilled-out vibe to the place that perfectly captures the vibrant spirit of the Caribbean. The food is pricey, and might lack a kick for more seasoned jerk chicken fans, but head down for beverages and great tunes and you won’t be disappointed. Open daily 7pm-2am. Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 354 4074).
Oeno This grape bar is huge, and there are plenty of seats to sit back and chill out on. In an area of the city known for its outdoor terraces and sea views, Oeno offers a sleek, indoor space with an excellent variety of nightly deals, so a drink here won’t break the bank. Open Sat-Wed 5pm-1.30am; Thu 5pm-2.30am, Fri noon-2.30am. The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 511 7373).
Original Wings & Rings When this DIFC sports bar opened, no-one anticipated that it would become such a hit. Odd, really, because reasonable prices, sports screens and a killer menu of chicken wings is really an unbeatable combination. The venue itself is nothing to shout about – it’s pretty plain and there isn’t much by way of décor – but it’s hardly needed. A great casual spot. Open daily noon-2am. Liberty House, DIFC (04 359 6900).
Time Café This sports bar is massive. That means shorter queues for the (many) pool tables, plenty of room to kick back and watch the game and speedier service at the bar. We’ve been fans of this old Karama spot for a long time, and we love it even more in the hot summer months. Open daily noon-3am. Ramee Royal Hotel, Karama (04 334 4088).