Reel Cinema Dubai Mall
Film options: There are four films to choose from here every week. At the request of our date, we reluctantly opted for Little Fockers.
Snack selection: Cinema staples plus ‘gourmet’ popcorn (cinnamon flavour, although we weren’t brave enough to try it) and a menu featuring everything from fully loaded hotdogs to nachos and dessert.
The room: Posher than the other venues, with moving lights beamed onto the walls and adverts for strange movie souvenirs rolling on the screen – anyone for a T-shirt with Hereafter emblazoned across the top, or Hermione Granger’s (replica) wand?
The chair: The Rolls Royce of reclining cinema seats, with an electric button for lowering the back and lifting the leg rest. Yet however comfortable you are, it’s never easy to eat a plate of nachos while you’re essentially horizontal. We have the salsa stains to prove it.
Service: Not bad. Order your drinks and snacks from a waiter in the reception/café (don’t be fooled – you’ll never forget you’re in The Dubai Mall’s labyrinth cinema complex) and, after a surprisingly lengthy wait, they’ll be brought to your chair. And, of course, there’s a button for table service.
Phone interruptions: Not one.
Price: Dhs120. It’s the most expensive of them all, but apart from a greater selection of films it doesn’t really offer much more for the extra cash.
www.reelcinemas.ae (04 449 1988)
Grand Cinemas, Festival City
Film options: There’s only one film showing each week. When we visited it was the decidedly average Season of the Witch – an odd choice.
Snack selection: Standard cinema fare, although there’s no cheese popcorn. They also serve crêpes and sandwiches, although our crêpe was lacking in chocolate sauce.
The room: It’s smaller than a regular screen, but seats about 50. The cinema is clean, although there’s a slightly funky smell that’s endemic to any cinema more than a few years old.
The chair: Reclines almost fully, but isn’t as easy on the derriere as some of the rival options.
Service: Friendly and fast: order food from the special VIP Grand Class area and it’s delivered straight to the seat, although they don’t take cards so we had to rush back to the ATM. There aren’t any buzzers on the seats for table service, but then do you really need that second popcorn?
Phone interruptions: None. Plus you’re so far away from other cinemagoers that even if a phone did ring, you probably wouldn’t hear it.
Price: Dhs100. It’s the least expensive of the three, but still not cheap.
www.grandcinemas.com (04 232 8328)
CineStar Mall of the Emirates
Film options: There are two films showing each week; on our visit, one of them is the universally panned Burlesque. We can’t help wondering who makes the decisions around here.
Snack selection: There’s the usual popcorn and family-sized bags of chocolate, plus a menu of comfort food and deep-fried goodies (spring rolls, mozzarella sticks, club sandwiches).
The room: Straight up the escalator and you’re there – no getting lost here. The cinema seating is configured like a small aeroplane (2-2-2), but the room is about four times as wide and free of screaming babies (you have to be over 18 to see any film in Gold Class).
The chair: These are enormous reclining affairs (we toyed with the idea of squeezing two people onto one), with a lever to flick the seat back and raise the foot rest, à la Joey and Chandler in Friends.
Service: After ordering from the reception (no queuing with the masses for your popcorn), everything is brought to your seat, and there’s a table-service button should you require further nourishment. Or a blanket.
Phone interruptions: One, though thankfully, the call was terminated instead of being taken.
Price: Dhs110. The price has risen by Dhs10 since it opened, but it’s worth it to avoid the incessant chattering rife in Mall of the Emirates’ regular screens.
www.cinestarcinemas.com (04 341 4222)