Dubai is a city of extremes and of contradictions. The recent headlines about travellers being advised to avoid alcohol when flying into the United Arab Emirates is hard to rationalise against the “Sunday brunch” culture in which thousands of expats are falling over drunk by mid-afternoon. Similarly, the city is often described as the “Las Vegas of the Middle East,” yet casinos are prohibited.
True, if you want to enjoy a spin of the reels or a game of blackjack, you will have to pull out your smartphone and visit a site like winningroom.com, as you won’t find a Grosvenor or a Gentings here. However, the comparison with Vegas is more about the glitz, glamour and excess of this intriguing city. Want some evidence? Check out the following night spots for an experience like no other.
Situated at Dubai Marina, a visit to this rooftop lounge is a wonderful way to kick off a night on the town over a cocktail or two. There are two areas, overlooking either the bustle of Sheik Zayed Road or the relative calm of the Persian Gulf, and an indoor restaurant in the middle. It’s a perfect place to watch the sunset as you sip on a Singapore Sling before heading into the thick of the action.
Lock, Stock & Barrel
Situated at Jumeirah Beach Residences, this is a sports bar with a twist that is all Dubai. The theme is Industrial American, the walls are made of repurposed smartphones and stereos and the result is probably the most Instagrammed location in Dubai. As well as the biggest sporting events on the biggest screens, LSB is also a great place to catch some live music, whether you favour the low-key acoustic night on a Monday or the full-on club classics being pumped out on a Friday night.
Given that it has won Time Out Dubai’s Club of the Year three years in succession, it is impossible not to mention this nightclub, tucked away at the Meydan Racecourse a few miles outside the city. Being up on the roof of the grandstand, the club has incredible views of the Dubai skyline. Dress to impress, as the door staff tend to permit entry on the basis of sartorial elegance.
Dubai loves its “secret” bars, but despite the best efforts of its regulars, Poppy must be the worst-kept secret in the Emirates. Enter through an innocuous-looking door marked “private” and you are instantly transported into the world of a 1920s speakeasy. There’s a bewildering choice of house cocktails to try, and the record decks churn out a constant medley of 1960s classics.
For the ultimate night out in the ultimate location, however, there is really only one choice. Armani/Privé is situated in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and it is where the rich and the beautiful go out to play. Here, you will encounter live performances by internationally famous acts playing to a small, but oh, so exclusive, audience.