Tired of visiting the same old nightspots? Here are a few alternative clubs, bars and spaces to try. Words James Wilkinson
Best for: beach fun It’s been around for a little while, but this Jumeirah Road private beach has reinvented itself as a chilled-out, cheaper 360° of late. Possibly its out-of-the-way location – it’s nestled at the end of a residential street just down the road from Dubai Ladies Club – was limiting the available business. In any case, while it’s never going to challenge Barasti for size or Nasimi for glamour (particularly thanks to its uninspiring car park entrance), this charming little beach club is a great way to chill out on a weekend afternoon. The staff are all polite and efficient, and the grassy beachside area is as perfect for dancing as it is for flopping out on the beanbags and chilling. You may even find yourself dragged into an impromptu game of volleyball. Music varies from night to night – there’s deep house on Thursdays, soulful house on Fridays and cheesy funk on Saturdays – but this place is more about relaxing than busting a move. 23A Street (off Beach Road), Jumeirah (04 344 6705). Open Sun-Wed 10am-8pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. DJs play on Thu 6pm-midnight and Fri-Sat 4pm-midnight. For prices, see listings; for map, see shoreside.ae
Best for: after-work chatter Dubai has a fantastic nightlife scene, but sometimes we just want to chill out with friends and enjoy a conversation without being interrupted by loud music or raucous chatter. And while there are plenty of bars in the area that offer a quieter atmosphere, they can also be rather stuffy. Thankfully, Caramel is the best of all worlds: chilled enough for a leisurely post-work natter with friends but relaxed enough that we can hang out there in our regular clothes without feeling like utter slobs. Even the food is great, making it a solid option for lunching, too. It’s probably our favourite new bar of recent months. DIFC, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 425 6677). Open daily noon-2am, free.
Best for: Al Barsha’s party set The Al Barsha area of Dubai may be perpetually under construction, but its nightlife scene is surprisingly well developed, provided you’re not looking for Sanctuary-esque, diamante-laden bling-offs. Now a few months old, Catwalk is the area’s only real option for clubbing, and is a rather petite, spotlit affair with, yes, a catwalk on which dancers can strut their stuff. It won’t win awards for size or class, but it’s a cheap-and-cheerful option staffed by incredibly helpful folk (even the bouncers are nice, which is a rarity in Dubai). Be warned, though: it doesn’t get busy until at least 12.30am so you may want to head upstairs to the workmanlike (but always busy) Locker Room sports bar to warm up, or catch a cab to Mall of the Emirates and hang out in Après or Evory Lounge for a bit. Golden Tulip Hotel, Al Barsha (04 341 7750). Open daily 9pm-3am.
37th at the WTC
Best for: new views of Sheikh Zayed Road Not so much a venue as a space for hire, this is the newly opened top deck of the World Trade Centre, overhauled with new floors, walls and lighting. The opening night may have lacked a little atmosphere – it was a bit like being in a wedding tent, albeit one that was hundreds of feet above sea level – but the launch was purely to display the venue itself. The plan is to rent it out for public and private events, from art classes to music nights, giving the promoters the chance to jazz it up with their own decorations. The views really are spectacular, giving a near-wraparound vista of the city. We’re heartily looking forward to its first public event. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road. Opening times depend on individual events. For listings, keep your eyes on Time Out Dubai; for more information contact Stuart on 04 309 7077.