Baby it’s cold inside… This time of the year, it’s second nature among Dubaians to bemoan the humidity, the heat and then some. But don’t pack away those thermal boots and merino wool sweaters just yet, as they’re going to come in handy this summer, without anyone having to fly to Antarctica.
Whether it’s snowfall at midnight or a beauty session that forces you to stand in extreme temperatures, here are some of Dubai’s best sub-zero experiences to get you through the heatwave.
If supermodels and sports stars use freezing sans clothing in a sub-zero chamber as a tool to tone up and reduce injury recovery time, surely there’s got to be something in that for us all.
Cryotherapy has been used by doctors on big-name athletes including Usain Bolt, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, for years, and it’s meant to be an excellent treatment for muscle soreness and joint problems. Being offered across the UAE, cryotherapy is a process that subjects the body to extreme temperatures for a short period of time, and supposedly inadvertently boosts metabolism, improves energy, stimulates collagen production, increases endorphins, and reduces cellulite. With such an army of benefits, standing in a machine that looks like a spaceship for a maximum of three minutes sounds worth it.
Upon entering the machine at Cryo, FitRepublik, you’ll be asked to wipe off any sweat (even a cold sweat, yes) to avoid frostbite, and put on a pair of socks, gloves and underpants. That is all. With just your head outside and the rest of your body enveloped in a cool -140°C, the therapist will act as your cheerleader. While you’re told tales from a warmer world outside, a white vapour will pour out from beneath you and remind you to never complain about the heat again.
Dhs350 (full body) Dhs325 (face only). Sat-Thu 6am-10pm. Cryo, FitRepublik, Dubai Sports City, www.fitrepublik.com (052 789 1122).
Pick up a penguin
Or maybe just pose with one… Who cares about the scorching temperatures outside when you have the world’s largest indoor ski slope in your backyard? Boasting 400m runs and open all year round, Ski Dubai challenges meteorological odds with its snowy scenes. Slip into the provided snow boots and indulge in a quick slalom between bouts of sunbathing this summer. The indoor ski resort guarantees an all-inclusive Alpine weather ambience.
If exercising your glutes and freestyling through Aspen-like slopes isn’t on your summer agenda, head over to the Penguin Habitat. Their little abode is Happy Feet come to life. The icy, cold igloo is home to a private pool, a private holding area, a lounge with an ice dragon sculpture and two bedrooms (not accessible to the public). The kitchen in their lair is stocked daily with a fish banquet for the 24 flightless birds.
The encounters allow guests to feel as though they’ve time travelled to Antarctica. You can take the kids and watch the penguins march, cuddle at least two penguins to get your Instagram-worthy shot, and watch a bunch of them perform underwater acrobats. If still left unsatisfied, choose the VIP package of Swimming with the Penguins (on Wednesdays only), where anyone over the age of 18 can have a ten- to 15-minute dip in the pool with these adorable birds. Antarctica is too expensive to get to anyway…
Dhs235 (Peng Friend Encounter), Dhs1,320 (Swimming with the Penguins). More packages available. Daily noon-9pm. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, booking.skidxb.com.
Skate under snowfall
It’s very rare that the weather report in Dubai reads: clear skies with zero percent chance of humidity and 100 percent chance of a blizzard. But when you’re at the indoor Dubai Ice Rink in The Dubai Mall, expect to hear that all summer long. The flurries of fake snow falling from the sky (aka the rooftop of the mall) will make your cold dreams come true. Throughout the summer months, there will be a daily snow shower in the rink to remind you of the end of Serendipity or make you feel like you’re in the middle of an illustrative snow globe. Either way, you won’t find yourself complaining.
Pull out your earmuffs and beanies and head to the snowfall session at this Olympic-sized rink. This indoor snow shower will last a couple of hours, during which pro-skaters can either participate in a little show-off session with their twirls and drops, while those not capable can simply stand on the sidelines can watch the snowy situation unfold.
Dhs80 per person. Daily 10pm-midnight. Dubai Ice Rink, The Dubai Mall, www.dubaiicerink.com.
Play ice hockey
Those who can ice skate and play hockey with diligence and discipline should get a membership at the Olympic-sized Al Nasr Leisureland ice rink. You won’t bump into any tourists here, neither will you have to dodge amateur skaters. And Tuesdays are exclusively for ladies, too. Rent the rink out for your own ice-hockey tournament, before winding down for bowling next door.
Dhs2,000 (annual membership for males), Dhs1,900 (annual membership for females). Daily 9am-midnight. Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha Road (04 337 1234).
Experience an ice fountain
If plunging into an ice bath sends a chill down your spine, quite literally, then try the Ice Fountain experience at Willow Stream Spa in Fairmont The Palm instead. Not exclusive to any particular treatment, and part of the regular facilities, the Ice Fountain is made with “special” ice and infused with products to help get rid of cellulite. It also normalises the body temperature after a steam or sauna session. All you do is rub a block of this specialised ice on your problem areas after coming out of the sauna, and then go back into the sauna to balance out the temperature. Don’t worry, it’s not a literal fountain, so you won’t freeze.
Dhs120 (daily, spa facilities only), Dhs250 (Sun-Thu including spa, beach and pool access), Dhs300 (Fri-Sat including spa, beach and pool access. Fairmont The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 3545).
Hang out in an ice lounge
The Chillout Ice Lounge in Times Square Center is very different to your living room. It’s extremely cold and the lights are always dim. However, it’s one of those spots where you will actually want to, well, lounge, all day long. Its interiors are like Narnia, except without the talking CGI animals and with an ice replica of Burj Khalifa, an igloo, aquatic creatures and plenty of ice chairs to sit on. The temperature remains a consistent -6°C all year round, but the bright red and purple punches of Bedouin cushions will constantly remind you of where you are geographically.
Guests are given complimentary warmers, woollen gloves, snow shoes, warm socks and a hooded parka on arrival, as well as a welcome drink. Once inside, you’ll forget about the 40°C outside, as the carefully manicured ice sculptors will keep you distracted.
This novelty space is worth a visit, especially if you want to shake off the dust from your winter wardrobe.
Dhs75 (adults), Dhs35 (kids aged five to 13), free (kids under five). Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Chillout Ice Lounge, Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.chilloutindubai.com (04 341 8121).
Stand in a snow room
One of the most unique spa features in the entire city, the Snow Room at Talise Ottoman Spa is precisely what it sounds like. A room packed with freshly made snow. With a constant temperature of -3°C, this sub-zero cubicle sits politely next to the sauna facilities at the spa and promises to unclog pores and increase blood circulation.
It must be visited after you’ve taken a dip in the hammam pool, and had a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam session. Oh, and the spa therapists will challenge you to stay longer than three seconds… they reckon you can’t.
Dhs250 (spa facilities only) Dhs350 (spa and beach access). Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. www.jumeirah.com (04 453 0456).
Icebar at Cavalli Club
Keeping things luxurious (as you would expect from Cavalli Club) its brand-new Ice Bar almost certainly adds an appropriate twist to a cold beverage. Currently closed for the summer, you’ll need to check out its ice-cold interiors when the mercury dips, but while the heat is still on.
Free (reservations recommended). 8.30pm-3am. Cavalli Club, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 991 0400).
Alternative ways to stay cool
We get it, you didn’t move here from Iceland (or England) for a flashback of the unbearable cold. You came for the endless summer and 15-hour days of sunshine. But even if you don’t go up to the snow slopes of Ski Dubai, there are other places in this city that are cooler than the temperature-controlled pool in your building – or the Metro. Here are nine top spots that aren’t as cold as Ski Dubai, but where you’ll still need to wear your woollens this summer…
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
The palm-lined oasis of Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, deep in the Desert Conservation Reserve, is only a 45-minute drive from Downtown Dubai. And while we wouldn’t climb any dunes during the day, the night temperature falls to 25°C, thanks to the cooling sand that surrounds.
Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.al-maha.com (04 303 4222).
Billo Ice Cream
Cool off with a cone of rose and chikoo ice-cream at this parlour that stays open until 3am.
From Dhs25. Open daily 11am-3am. Near Lamcy Plaza, Bur Dubai, www.billoicecream.com (04 396 4426). Other location: Damascus Street, Al Qusais (04 259 2933).
For reasons unknown to us, the yellowtail sashimi and unagi platters are served under particularly cold physical conditions here. Is the air-con broken? Or are silky slivers of sashimi best enjoyed when you’re at the same temperature as them?
From Dhs55. Open daily noon-midnight. Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina, www.chezsushi.com (800 78744).
Located next to one of the original ice rinks, in the Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira, this café serves bottomless cups of hot chocolate. Sit near the entrance as the cool air from the rink breezes through every time the door opens.
From Dhs15. Open daily 8am-10pm. Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira (04 317 2221).
Pure Sky Lounge
If science is to be believed, the temperature in this 35th floor lounge and restaurant should surely be relatively cooler than that at ground zero. Right?
Open daily 2pm-2am. Hilton Dubai The Walk, JBR, www.facebook.com/pureskylounge (04 374 7888).
Speedboat around JBR
Want to feel the wind in your hair? Book an adrenaline-filled boat cruise across the Arabian Gulf that will give you goosebumps and offer unbeatable views of the Dubai skyline. If this doesn’t give you chills, we don’t know what will.
Dhs280 (adults), Dhs210 (kids). Daily 5.15pm for 90 minutes. Arabian Adventures, www.arabian-adventures.com (04 303 4888).
The Lost Chambers
Maybe the idea of swimming with sharks will make you break a sweat. Irrespective, the temperature of the water in the aquarium at Atlantis The Palm is fixed at 23°C. Plus, you get to swim with schools of tropical fish (and seven different species of shark… just saying!).
Dhs950 (Atlantis Dive Discovery). Daily 10.45am, 1.45pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2000).
Perhaps because this is a brand-new addition to the roster of malls in the city, The Mall, directly opposite Jumeirah Beach Hotel, is still relatively empty compared to its crowded cousins, and a darn sight cooler. Come here for a wander on hot days.
Open daily 10am-midnight. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 348 4848).
Your nearest cinema
In fact, any cinema. Even if this means you have to sit through a sappy rom-com because your wife is obsessed with Ryan Reynolds, know that this is a cooler spot than the sunbeds on Kite Beach.