You can thank the US Navy for the term ‘happy hour’ (they apparently invented it in the ’20s, fact fans – it was slang for a scheduled entertainment period on board a ship). But you can also thank Dubai for some of the finest happy-hour options on the planet. With the World Cup kicking off this month, we’ve scoured the city for deals guaranteed to make watching the football nothing short of glorious.
The vibe: Cheerful and sophisticated, Après is a good after-work spot that livens up as the evening progresses. Pop in for decent drinks and views of the slopes.
The deal: Dhs25 for selected bottled drinks and house beverages; Dhs28 for selected draughts and house grape; and 30 per cent off bar snacks, daily 10pm-midnight.
Budget factor: Depending on your choice, you can spend as little as Dhs25 per drink.
Good for: A post-work catch-up.
Mall of the Emirates (04 341 2575). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: An empty Waxy’s is an eerie thing, but early in the afternoon you can experience it for yourself. Head over during daylight hours to mingle with cabin crew and freelancers (aka expats who don’t spend their days sat in an office), who are always eager to take advantage of the more subdued pub. Come at 7pm if you’d like some company with your discount.
The deal: 20 per cent off selected drinks, Sun-Thu noon-8pm.
Budget factor: Drinks are already cheap. An extra 20 per cent discount makes them a steal.
Good for: Dirt-cheap beverages.
Ascot Hotel (04 352 0900). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: Low-key is definitely the name of the game at this spot. While drinks could be cheaper, the romantic lighting and creek view make the bar well worth the extra dirhams.
The deal: Half-price drinks, Sat-Sun 6pm-9pm. Dhs35 for a James Bond drink, Mon 6pm-2am. Dhs40 for selected cocktails, Wed-Thu.
Budget factor: The Saturday/Sunday half-price deal applies to all drinks (yes, everything). There are some excellent cocktails on offer here, and Bond wannabes won’t be disappointed either.
Good for: Taking a date.
Park Hyatt (04 602 1234).
The vibe: This is a slightly claustrophobic room trying to pose as James Bond’s watering hole. The alternating black and white upholstery completes the look, as do the leggy blondes employed to mix drinks.
The deal: 30 per cent off all drinks, daily 7pm-9pm.
Budget factor: At Dhs50 a pop, the discount just about makes the swanky cocktails affordable.
Good for: Players.
Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa (04 399 5000).
The vibe: A bustling spot packed with holidaymakers and expats. There’s a touch of ‘new money’ about the place, but don’t let that put you off: it’s a fantastic drinks deal.
The deal: Selected drinks are Dhs18, daily 5pm-8pm.
Budget factor: Superb. The price can’t be beaten.
Good for: Out-of-towners.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6348). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: The venue attracts a lively after-work crowd, although the surroundings are slightly sterile.
The deal: Selected drinks are Dhs19-22, daily 5pm-8pm.
Budget factor: Drinks are a steal at Dhs19.
Good for: A post-work tipple.
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Resort & Spa (04 511 7309).
The vibe: Lively yet sophisticated, the crowd is a little older than at some of Dubai’s venues, but no less jolly. There’s a live band after 9.30pm, which adds to the atmosphere. Just bring your ID – they’re strict at the door.
The deal: Two for one selected drinks, daily 6pm-8pm.
Budget factor: The drinks aren’t cheap to begin with, but at essentially half price, they become very reasonable.
Good for: Feeling like a grown-up.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 5646).
The vibe: A quiet restaurant with good food and a spectacular view over the entire city. It never gets particularly busy, but that just means you can hog the good service.
The deal: Three for the price of two on selected drinks, daily 6pm-8pm.
Budget factor: It’s not super-cheap, but a 30 per cent discount is still a decent deal.
Good for: A great view.
Holiday Inn Express, Internet City (04 427 5500). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: Low lighting, purring music and cushy seating make this a sophisticated affair, though it tends to be dead earlier in the week.
The deal: Discounts on selected drinks, Sun-Thu 6pm-8pm.
Budget factor: There’s no consistency to the deals available, but they’re not bad – go in for the Dhs22 draught or Dhs120 bottle of grape. Unfortunately, Dhs40 for Brazil’s national beverage still feels a bit steep, and the excellent cocktails, alas, are not discounted.
Good for: A pre-Rivington Grill aperitif.
Souk Al Bahar (04 368 4501).
The vibe: Aside from a couple of Egyptian touches, the decor is mainly colonial Asian. While you almost expect Agatha Christie-era colonels to populate the place, it’s filled with an assorted crowd of merry revellers.
The deal: Selected drinks are Dhs19, daily 4pm-8pm.
Budget factor: Excellent – no wonder the place is so popular.
Good for: Good cheer.
Wafi Pyramids (04 324 4100). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: This venue is 60 per cent restaurant and 40 per cent bar. There’s not a huge crowd, which makes it a pleasant spot for a quiet drink, if that’s what you’re after.
The deal: 40 per cent off selected drinks, daily 4pm-8pm.
Budget factor: Good. The prices aren’t too extravagant to start with, so things get downright cheap during happy hour.
Good for: A chilled-out drink.
Wafi City (04 324 4100). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: Old colonial with wooden blinds, leather chairs and a bar that’s good for sittin’ ’n’ sippin’. The ideal spot for a more sophisticated after-hours affair.
The deal: 40 per cent off selected grapey beverages and cheese, daily 5pm-8pm.
Budget factor: Vintage offers a fantastic range of France’s national beverage – the cheaper end of the list is good, too. At nearly half price, the bill is a bargain.
Good for: Oenophiles and those who want a little more refinement.
Wafi City (04 324 4100).
Sheikh Zayed Road
The vibe: A low-key jazz bar that’s friendly, even if it’s past its prime. The jazz tunes are acceptable, though don’t expect a buzzing crowd.
The deal: Buy one get one free, daily 5pm-7pm.
Budget factor: At basically half price, pints come quite reasonable.
Good for: A spot of chilled-out jazz.
Novotel World Trade Centre (04 332 0000).
The vibe: As close to a real Irish pub as you’re going to get in Dubai. The crowd is merry, the pints are cheap and the footie fans vocal. Stick around on a Tuesday for the best quiz night in the emirate.
The deal: Up to 45 per cent off selected drinks, daily 4pm-7pm.
Budget factor: Average. A pint that was Dhs30 is now Dhs22.
Good for: Irish banter.
Off Sheikh Zayed Road, between The Fairmont and Crowne Plaza (04 332 2400). Watch The World Cup here.
The vibe: A traditional British pub in every sense. Regulars crowd the bar while watching footie and tucking into awesome fish and chips.
The deal: Up to 50 per cent off selected drinks, daily 5pm-8pm.
Budget factor: The discounts available depend on your label. If you like cheap drinks, they’ll be even cheaper now.
Good for: Football fans.
Crowne Plaza, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111).
The vibe: Ramadan revellers know that this bar can get as packed as a can of sardines during peak hours, which is why off-peak happy hour is a relative treat. With far more breathing room, you can actually appreciate the breadth of the venue’s incredibly long bar.
The deal: 40 per cent off selected drinks, Sat-Wed noon-8pm, Thu noon-10pm, Fri noon-midnight.
Budget factor: There’s not a particularly wide selection of drinks on offer, but that selection does become dirt cheap.
Good for: Feeling like you’re an extra on the Cheers! set.
Towers Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 312 2202). Watch The World Cup here.
The deal: 20 per cent off selected drinks, Sat-Thu noon-8pm. Pay Dhs100 for five selected drinks every Wednesday.
Al Murooj Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 321 1111). Watch The World Cup here.
We discover the best spots to watch the game.
The Palladium: Catch the matches in high-def on The Palladium’s cinema-style terrace, which has seating for 1,000 guests. There are also activities taking place throughout the day (how can you resist the PlayStation area?). Tickets are Dhs60 and include a drink; VIP seating is also available.
Grand Cinemas: Don’t fancy watching the games in a crowded pub? All 64 matches will be showing in high-def on cinema screens throughout Dubai. Tickets are Dhs35 for early rounds, Dhs100 for the finals. Some may even be shown in 3D.
04 232 8523, www.grandcinemas.com.
Barasti Beach Stadium: Games are bigger than ever at Barasti’s Beach Stadium, which boasts a five-storey air-conditioned tent and a 12-metre-wide screen (a viewing area equivalent to watching 100 TV sets). Group packages start
at Dhs3,500 for 15 people, including a range of drinks.
Irish Village: Sit in an air-conditioned tent in the tennis stadium and watch one of four screens. Visit six times and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a trip for two to Istanbul.
Aviation Club, Garhoud (04 282 4122).
Jumeirah Beach Hotel: Pop into the air-conditioned arena (which can house 600 fans) and watch from super-sized screens. Entry is free, with Dhs100 worth of food vouchers. VIP seating, which includes valet parking, a buffet and seating for up to eight guests with dedicated screens, starts at Dhs400.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999).
Want good eats while watching the footie? Get stuck in at these venues.
Wavebreaker: Not only does this seaside spot have the only high-def LED screen on the Jumeirah strip, it also has a special menu with a dish from every country playing in the World Cup. Grab a Cornish pasty (representing England), or Nürnberger sausages (for Germany’s supporters). There will also be country-themed bevvies.
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (050 882 5431).
Thai Kitchen/The Terrace: The Park Hyatt has two football zones, both offering excellent South African grapey beverages, an international drinks menu and upscale food. Think veal sausage with curry sauce and beef pies with green peppercorns. Yum!
Park Hyatt (04 317 2222).
Loca: With an extensive hops selection and what are easily the best ribs in town, Loca is a must-stop for munchies. If ribs aren’t your thing, dig into the range of exceptionally authentic Mexican food.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (04 346 1111).