Is it really worth paying double – or almost triple sometimes – to see the latest blockbusters at Dubai cinemas in big fancy, leather seats? We visit the city’s most popular posh screens to find out.
Platinum Suites at Reel Cinema
Though Reel Cinemas also operates in Dubai Marina Mall, its Platinum screens are only available in The Dubai Mall. You’ll need to book your tickets using conventional methods (online or downstairs at the box office), but you can then head up to the fourth level in the complex and relax in the rather glamorously furnished exclusive lounge. After ordering your snacks from the menu and making your way to the screen, an usher will escort you to your seat (leather, electronic reclining) and provide you with a pillow and blanket. Though food doesn’t always arrive before the film starts (even if you got there before the trailers), the interruptions are kept to a minimum.
Cinema snacks: An extensive variety – from samosas to Greek salad, popcorn to pizza. Unfortunately, it’s all a little difficult to eat if you’re stretched out.
Blankets and pillows: Yes, free.
Dhs130 per person for platinum suites tickets, Dhs35 regular screens. Reel Cinema, The Dubai Mall, www.reelcinemas.ae (04 449 1988).
Vox Gold at Mall of the Emirates
If you’re prepared to fork out considerably more dirhams than usual to watch a film in the Mall of the Emirates, then Vox Gold offers a more luxurious, if a little high maintenance, experience. Gold guests can access a separate lounge by going in a lift to the second floor, where you’re greeted at the entrance by a member of staff who shows you to a lounge area. You’re then given a menu to place an order. Your credit card is taken away by the staff and then you’re directed to a separate entrance and to your seats. The cinema itself is small and personal, with seating for 30-40 guests on big, comfy reclining leather seats. These seats have foot rests that can be released with a satisfying yank of a handle. It’s certainly a far superior way to watch a film.
Cinema snacks: The menu is pretty extensive, featuring everything from mini burgers and hot dogs to sandwiches and even salads (although we were slightly miffed at having to pay extra for it after the cost of the seat). The food was surprisingly good: the mini double cheese burger in particular is tasty with plump beef. Our only issue is timings. Your food and drinks are served just as the film starts. We’d opted to watch Thor: The Dark World, which thanks to a chaotic plot was instantly lost on us because we were too busy signing credit card receipts and trying to navigate a chilli covered hot dog in a pitch black room. Also, keep an eye out if you order a sandwich: ours came with a cocktail stick inserted in it, which is potentially dangerous in the dark. The light on your mobile phone will come in handy. The table for two guests is a bit small as well, once you place two plates and two drinks on it. Room is at a premium.
Blankets and pillows: Blankets are given out free of charge. You have to pay Dhs3 for 3D glasses.
Dhs147per person for gold class, Dhs47 for standard. VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, (04 341 4222).
Grand Class at Grand Cinema
No joining the masses at the busy beverages counters here – simply head into the Grand Class section and place your order. The waitress will take note of your seat number, leaving you free to head on inside and get settled, safe in the knowledge that she’ll deliver your grub when it’s ready. Inside, there are La-Z-Boy-style electric leather chairs that recline easily and you even have a little table to put all your cinema snacks on. The hall is smaller than the regular cinema, so this cuts down on disturbances and big groups of rowdy teens or kids. That being said, we still had to put up with a man chatting away on his mobile phone during the movie and the staff didn’t do anything about it.
Cinema snacks: There are all the usual cinema snacks on offer, including crepes, and the food is what you’d expect from a cinema: guilt-inducingly good.
Blankets and pillows: No pillows but blankets are available at no extra charge.
Dhs100 (grand class); Dhs35 (regular). Grand Festival Cinemas, Dubai Festival City, www.grandcinemas.com (04 232 8328).