We find the city’s top themed bars, from cowboy joints to Mexican wrestling rings
1 Axe House Themed on: hipster London. From barrels of hops lining the walls, to chip board partitions with graffiti all over them, a large selection of craft hops, and even the spray-painted logo, this place screams “I’m from East London, mate”. It’s edgy, it’s urban and it’s full of beards. We love this bar, as does everyone else in JLT, it would appear. Open daily noon-2am. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT (04 399 9577).
2 Cobra Kai Themed on: Karate Kid. That’s right, there’s an entire bar (and adjoining restaurant) dedicated to the 1980s movie. With a dedicated hops pong zone, a lively vibe, puntastic neon street signs and a decent post-work happy hour, you’ll love it here. Open daily noon-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 420 7489).
3 garden on 8 Themed on: gardens, we suppose. It may be a fairly self-explanatory theme, but garden on 8 has a magnificent, sprawling terrace that’s been transformed into a huge garden with picnic benches, a wooden bar (made, we assume, using a lot of 2x4s) and a heap of TV screens. Since the World Cup is here (check out the best places to watch on page 12), you’re in for a treat. Open Sat-Mon noon-midnight; Tue-Fri noon-2am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).
4 Gold on 27 Themed on: all things gold. One of the city’s most luxurious bars, almost everything at this Burj Al Arab watering hole is swathed in the precious metal. Even the mixed drinks include gold. However, it also offers some exceptional views out across the city. One of the bars where you’ll want to dress up for the occasion. Open daily 6pm-2am. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 301 7600).
5 Hard Rock Cafe Themed on: rock ’n’ roll. For fans of music this Dubai branch of the massive global chain is decked out with authentic music paraphernalia, so expect to see an original James Brown suit, Fleetwood Mac’s drum kit, one of Prince’s jackets and the bass guitar of John Entwistle (of The Who). Don’t miss the famed burgers and live music, either. Open daily noon-2am. Dubai Festival City Mall (04 232 8900).
6 Luchador Themed on: Mexican wrestling. This place is one of the most funky, fun-loving and vibrant new bars around. Found at the tip of the Palm, Luchador knows how to party – in no small part down to its absolutely packed salsa night every Tuesday. You’ll also be treated to an astonishing view out over the Arabian Gulf – although sadly no wrestling ring in sight. Open Mon-Thu 9am-2am; Fri-Sat 1pm-2am. Aloft Palm Jumeirah (04 247 5550).
7 Miss Lily’s Themed on: Jamaican jerk shacks. Now this is one of the coolest themed bars around, and we love it. Winner of our best North American and Caribbean restaurant at the 2018 Restaurant Awards, Miss Lily’s has top island vibes, and an excellent food and drinks menu. The bar area is equally cool and you’ll be able to get your hands on some pretty inventive mixed drinks, including the “Dutty” grape drink. A seriously cool spot to spend an fun-filled evening. Open Sun-Wed 7pm-1am, Thu-Fri 7pm-2am. Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 370 8999).
8 Rodeo Drive Themed on: the Wild, Wild West. Not to be confused with the high-end shop, this is actual cowboy-style. This bar is superb, and the gigantic mechanical bull makes a good night out a spectacular one. Open daily 6pm-3am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 386 9617).
9 Stereo Arcade Themed on: retro gaming and old-school beats. This bar feels like it’s been around forever. It’s quirky, it’s full of arcade machines, neon lights and super stylish retro party lovers, and it gets busy at the weekend. Open 6pm-3am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, JBR (052 618 2424).
10 The Stables Themed on: horse racing. You’ll often find the latest meetings shown here. It’s also home to Dhs35 hops, which is bargainous (and it’s half that during happy hour). Open daily noon-3am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 342 5571).
11 The Underground Themed on: The London Underground. Obviously, so expect a bar that looks like a train carriage, archways, and lots of Tube-based paraphernalia. It’s also the winner of the Best Sports Bar award at our Music & Nightlife awards, so it’s a great place to watch the World Cup, too. Open daily noon-3am. Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, JBR (04 408 4257).
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