Things to do in Dubai in February
The best Dubai events and other things to do in Dubai in June, including deals at Dubai restaurants, bars and spas, cinema, concerts and festivals.
February could make a fair claim to being the ultimate month for weather in Dubai - not too hot, and certainly not too cold, the late 'winter' air is pretty much perfect. And that is reflected in what you can get up to around town, from music festivals to sports events and plenty more in between.
1 It’s a truly original concept for the region
Putting sushi on the same menu as steak isn’t an original concept. But for Hub Zero, the claim at being a first of its kind in the region is spot on – we haven’t seen anything else like it. Genuinely state-of-the-art, using the latest technologies, it’s an 18,000-square-metre entertainment park for all ages and levels of gamer as far down as, well, non-gamers.
2 Serious support network
A concept designed locally in partnership with five of the planet’s biggest names in gaming – Electronic Arts, Capcom, Konami, Microsoft and Square Enix – it’s an homage to everything from Space Invaders to virtual reality (VR), covering every base from basic Pac-Man and pinball machines right up to competitive multi-player tournaments. Among the games to feature are Battlefield, Gears of War and Asura’s Wrath.
3 Sensory overload
Quite where you’re supposed to look when entering the ground level is anybody’s guess; every corner sparkles with intrigue. From the enormous overhanging smoke-breathing dragon on one side to the Resident Evil signage, illuminated in thick deep red and flanked by menacing-looking zombie characters on the other, there isn’t one inch of space that doesn’t demand your attention. And it isn’t just branding. There’s authentic street art by local graffiti artists filling the wall, behind which experiences and activities lie.
4 Watching is playing
The majority of first person-themed games downstairs have viewing areas. Take, for example, the Virtual Arena. When empty, one of the only unremarkable spaces in the building – simply four sections of an open-plan room – it takes on a stadium-like atmosphere when gamers don futuristic headsets and headphones and start wildly shooting at whatever it is their goggles show. It’s wonderfully good fun to watch, if only for how silly it looks to a viewer who peers in from outside.
5 Getting involved
Sticking with virtual reality, experiencing really is believing. And we can’t even take pictures to illustrate how awesome it is. And how disconcerting. Wearing goggles and headphones to totally block out the outside world, you’re transported to a run-down, spooky street armed only with a palm-sized pistol (of course, in the VR, the gun is considerably bigger) and told to expect things that go bump in the night. Right on cue, zombies attack from all angles.
6 The extras
There’s also state-of-the-art racing simulators with complex hydraulic systems to make even F1 fans envious, an inner-city sports court “arena” for Pro Evolution Soccer tournaments, 3D first person shoot-’em-ups in front of giant screens, a lazer maze and 46-seater 4D cinema. And that’s just the stuff you can “do”.
7 The “rides”
With Dubai Parks And Resorts and IMG Worlds of Adventure nailing down the roller coaster thing for the foreseeable future, Hub Zero has brought its own piece of the action to the party. The signature “ride” is Dragon Age: Flight of the Wardens, an exhilarating “robocoaster” that seats four and flings you around 360 degrees on a three-axis robotic arm, while a quarter-bowl screen plays the adventure as you move. Others include Final Fantasy Escape From Midgar, in which riders strap into an imperious “omni-directional” coach carriage and are wrapped in a giant multi-dimensional screen.
8 For the serious gamer
Upstairs, which is free to access, provides a different sort of gaming experience; far less immersive, but geared towards fans (well, the pool hall, canteen and karaoke booths means it’s not just for the keyboard warriors). The LAN gaming area, with 70 stations and eight private booths, is expected to become a significant location for the whole of the Middle East’s e-sports tournaments. For the uninitiated, LAN stands for Local Area Network and it’s the sort of dedicated, late-into-the-night online experience gently mocked, but utterly misunderstood, in the mainstream media.
9 For the old-school
Did the gaming revolution pass you by? Worry not, because there’s a dedicated room for those who remember a simpler time; a time when all you had was a jump button and joystick, when Pac-Man was the only real emoji you needed. That’s right, an entire hall of arcade games and pinball machines, all with original artwork, but with updated gameplay for the 21st century.
10 The price
Tickets for the ground level range from Dhs160 (Recruit Pass) to Dhs260 (Hacker Pass) dependent on amount of experiences. Karaoke booths, Network Arena and pool tables are priced per hour.
In Numbers: Hub Zero
The percentage of wholly original, nowhere-else-in-the-world experiences available at Hub Zero.
The inches of the three screens that fully wrap you up for the Hyper Drive motorsport simulator
The amount of players who can compete in the Gears of War: Laser Siege at once.
The targeted age range, proving there really is something for most levels of gamer.
Why we like it:
• The view while lying in a cabana by the pool
• You are at the centre of Downtown
• The relaxed Stage 2 lounge
Location: The clue is in the name, the hotel is at the centre of modern Dubai. From Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, where it’s based, you are minutes away from the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountains and dozens of cafés, restaurants and bars. It’s a modern boutique hotel inside a building in keeping with the area’s original ‘old town’ theme.
Character: White, pristine, and clean. This is a light, airy hotel – muted tones on the carpets, walls and furnishings create a sense of relaxation in the midst of one of the busiest parts of town. It’s a real oasis of calm, and that was passed on to us as we entered.
Service: Check-in was as easy as it gets, and the member of staff that showed us to our room did a great job of demonstrating how everything worked (including the TV remote, which seemed to control everything in the room). From the staff at the pool, to the waitress in the relaxing Stage 2, to the guy who took us for breakfast in a golf buggy, everyone was great.
Rooms: Compact is a good word for our room (the Deluxe). Everything is within easy reach – in fact the bathroom and toilet are maybe a bit too close for those who like a certain level of privacy. Its size was not an issue though as the hotel isn’t really one to laze around in, it’s ideal for getting out and about. The décor was impressive though – very cool and modern compared to other hotels in Dubai. In the suites there is more room, of course, with a separate seating and dining area.
Restaurants & bars: The two high-end restaurants are the French La Serre and Japanese Toko (both Time Out favourites), though on our visit we ate at Stage 2, which is beyond the lobby. There you’ll find a good menu of sandwiches and nibbles, while hops and grape are available too (there’s a great cheese and grape night on Wednesdays). There’s also 3in1, which has a terrace over the pool and is the setting for Vida’s Picnic Brunch. However, you could also make the short trip to Vida’s sister hotel Manzil where there’s brilliant Arabic food available in the romantic Courtyard. Also part of the Manzil is Nezesaussi Grill, one of the city’s best sports bars (which also does good food) and a second branch of Pier 7’s Fumé. For breakfast we were given a lift to The Pavilion. Staff there were great, the food was excellent, it’s got a good vibe and is value for money – what more do you want?
Facilities: There isn’t a great deal in the way of facilities outside the rooms. We loved the gym and the pool is a very cool place to relax, especially if you are lucky enough to bag a poolside cabana from which you can slide into the water. Vida does offer transport to the Dubai Mall and DIFC.
Activities: You have Downtown Dubai on your doorstep here. At Dubai Mall there’s a cinema, ice rink, the Dubai Aquarium and hundreds of shops. The Burj Khalifa is along the road as are the Dubai Fountains – you’re not going to be short of things to do with Vida as your base.
GET A DISCOUNT WITH HOTEL TONIGHT
Value: 150 AED
Min Spend: 400 AED
Redemption period: 14.12.2015 - 21.12.2015
Booking/Checkin period: 06.12.2015 - 23.03.2016
Markets: all markets
Why we like it:
• Service is second to none
• Spending a day at the pool is a real pleasure
• The places to eat are very special
Location: Most Dubaians know Raffles and the Wafi complex well, it has long been on the map in Oud Metha. It has good metro links, if, like us, you don’t mind using public transport, and is so much of a landmark that you can’t miss it. It’s a pyramid with an illuminated peak after all.
Character: Wafi is an Egyptian-themed part of town, and the hotel, as we’ve said above is in the shape of a pyramid. There’s Asian style and Egyptian influence inside too – when we stepped inside we were wowed by the grandeur of the lobby. The pool area and gardens are a real surprise when you find them too – there’s no hint at such beauty and size when you’re on the street below. This is a hotel of real warmth and character – in the rooms, the public areas and in the staff.
Service: The staff at Raffles are extremely warm and friendly. They seem genuinely interested in the wellbeing of every guest and make a huge effort to make sure each stay is personalised. There is no difference in attitude between any member of staff – perhaps the best service we’ve experienced in the region.
Rooms: Just like with the initial impression of the hotel, the rooms at Raffles are warm and welcoming. At first glance they might seem a little out of time, but that’s surely on purpose. They have a real sense of history, right down to the Egyptian art. Don’t be fooled though, the rooms have as many modern twists as its newer rivals. Balconies are huge with comfortable loungers and are a perfect place to relax and gaze over the Dubai skyline. The bathrooms are big and luxurious, with the sunken bathtub particularly impressive. There’s also Wi-Fi, excellent entertainment facilities and everything is controlled by an iPad.
Restaurants & bars: Let’s start at the top with People by Crystal, which occupies the top two floors. The Time Out award-winning club has 360-degree views of Dubai and is one of the places to be seen in the city. Underneath the club is Tomo, a fantastic Japanese restaurant with a stunning terrace for dining and a separate one for its bar. Also in the hotel is Solo Bistronomia & Bar, which won Best Newcomer at the Time Out Dubai 2015 Restaurant Awards. All-day dining restaurant Azur is the place for breakfast, with a good array of Arabic dishes as well as European food. There’s also a brunch at Azur and an innovative afternoon tea at Raffles Salon in the lobby. Drinks are available by the pool, which has a swim-up bar (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a swim-up bar?), and in Crossroads, which has a terrace overlooking the impressive garden and is one of Dubai nightlife’s best-kept secrets.
Facilities: A butler service is available, there’s a library and there are activities for kids. These are just three of the many things on offer. The hotel’s spa, with separate male and female areas and salons, is a real sanctuary. Treatments include a gold facial and other extravagant treatments and rituals, but we chose a simple, but very effective, aromatherapy massage. The gym is well-appointed and has a trainer on hand should you need any help or pointers.
Activities: There are the award-winning restaurants and bars sure, and the excellent pool, but perhaps the coolest thing of all is the Raffles Cinema. You can pick a movie for you, your family and friends, or just for the kids, in the nine-seat screen in the hotel.
Part of the prestigious Address chain (of which there are four in Dubai), the Address Dubai Marina is right next door to Dubai Marina Mall, at the heart of the recently developed Marina area. What was desert only a few years ago is now a modern metropolis of skyscrapers, restaurants and bars all perched along the water’s edge. The hotel’s signature restaurant Mazina is one such place to kick back and enjoy the view along with some fantastic modern European food, but after night falls, head to its infinity pool bar for white leather beanbags, delicious cocktails and a dazzling panorama. When it comes to shopping, Dubai Marina Mall caters more for the well-off rather than the super wealthy. If it’s not bling enough, then a five-minute cab ride will see you at Mall of the Emirates' sleek ‘Rodeo Drive’, and it's full of high-end designers.
• Five minutes away is the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, a trendy, terraced bar where locals enjoy eyeing up the multi-million pound boats moored below.
• Chic hotel bar Blends offers free cosmopolitans all night for ladies, every Thursday. Expect to find it packed come 9pm.
• Need a manicure? One of Dubai’s best nail spa chains, N Spa, can be found in the mall next door.
• For a decent roast, head to sister hotel the Address Montgomerie’s Nineteen restaurant for succulent dishes with views over the hotel’s fairway.
• The nearest beach is literally a 10-minute stroll away, down on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.