If you’re starting to get bored sitting at the bar, there’s no better time to check out watering holes that offer all kinds of entertainment – and often for free. We pick our ten favourite spots in which you can play everything from billiards to darts, and even ride a mechanical bull…
The bar has everything you could want from a neighbourhood joint – cheap hops (a bucket of five will cost you Dhs120 from 6pm-3am on a Wednesday), live music from the resident house band, multiple pool tables and a huge foosball table.
Open daily 9.15am-2.45am. JW Marriott Dubai, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Deira (04 607 7977).
The Barn at Claw BBQ is the ultimate haven for games lovers. It is filled with retro arcades, two darts boards, a jukebox, a hops pong table, foosball table, an X-Box and, if that wasn’t enough, giant Jenga and Twister, too. The private room is available to hire at Dhs300 per head and includes food and beverages, with a minimum spend of Dhs4,500. In the main bar, customers can take advantage of a jukebox or choose from a menu of classic board games such as Connect Four, Operation and Trivial Pursuit, which are available to play during the lunchtime service, Sunday to Thursday, noon until 5pm.
Open daily noon-2am. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
Crown & Lion
You may have to wait around to use the pool table at this traditional English pub, but you can always step up to the dartboard and challenge a friend for free while you wait…
Open daily 11am-3am. Byblos Hotel, TECOM (04 448 8000).
Don’t let the lived-in appearance of this pub scare you away. The chilled-out, no frills attitude is actually part of its charm. An American-themed bar, this joint is an old favourite in Dubai but remains relatively quiet in comparison to other sports bars. Service isn’t always overly friendly, but on the plus, you are pretty much left to your own devices to play darts or pool.
Open Sun-Thu 3pm-2am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Deira (04 608 8087).
Kickers Sports Bar
This spot has quickly become a favourite for Dubai Sports City residents, with its happy hour from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays and live music every Thursday. The venue has two pool tables and a foosball table, which customers can play for free, as well as hops pong and six chess tables.
Open daily noon-midnight. Football Zone, Sports Village, Dubai Sports City (04 4481 001).
Despite its name, Rodeo Drive is a far cry from the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills. That’s not to say it isn’t appealing, though. If you’re a fan of fast food and old jukebox music, and your idea of a good night out is a game of foosball with hops, then you’ll feel right at home. Re-live your college days and play at one of the multiple hops pong tables. Braver types, try your luck on the mechanical bull – for free.
Open daily 6pm-3am. The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 386 9617).
This new bar is pretty rare in Dubai. It’s a cross between an ’80s video arcade and retro club – it’s where your favourite childhood pastime meets a pint of hops with friends. The JBR venue specialises in arcade classics such as Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam and Pac-Man. And if that isn’t cool enough, the machines are free to play. Featuring 12 machines with more than 600 games each, it’s a pretty nifty spot to grab a drink and enjoy some downtime after work.
Open daily 6pm-3am. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (04 558 6062).
Located on the first floor of McGettigan’s DWTC, The Den is very much a sports and games hangout. Its punters tend to be more focused on watching sport – football and rugby – on the various big screens, but there’s plenty of room for play, too, as the bar hosts seven pool tables that cost just Dhs6 a game.
Open Sun-Wed 5pm-2am, Thu-Sat noon-2am. McGettigan’s DWTC, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 378 0800).
The Underground Pub
This British pub is known for its loyal clientele. With two darts boards and pool tables the relaxed vibe makes for a comfortable game-playing atmosphere. Show up early to nab a pool table as it can get pretty crowded after 8pm.
Open daily 12.30pm-2am. Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
This Dubai Media City spot has more than six pool tables. It’s popular mid-week with an after-work crowd and at weekends with young, trendy types. With an unpretentious air, speedy service and decent dancefloor tunes, what’s not to like?
Open Sun, Mon, Wed 11am-2am, Tue and Thu 11am-3am, Fri 2pm-3am, Sat noon-2am. 43rd floor, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 443 5403).