Dubai might be a thriving, futuristic metropolis, but it knows how to embrace its bohemian side. Here’s where you can, too, with our pick of the emirate’s hippy hangouts.
XVA Art Hotel
A founding father of Dubai’s burgeoning art scene, this spot in the Bastakiya Quarter plays host to an acclaimed gallery full of works by local and international artists, as well as an award-winning restaurant and cafe serving locally inspired vegetarian cuisine. Don’t miss the quirky concept store, packed with chic interiors finds, jewellery and accessories.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, cafe daily 7am to 9pm. Tel: (04) 353 5383. xvahotel.com
If your dream home looks like a chic beachside retreat, this ethically-minded store is for you. It stocks everything from handwoven chairs, ethically sourced from African artisans, through to boho-chic rattan planters and woven rugs.
The Courtyard, Al Quoz 3, daily 9am to 6pm. Tel: (050) 142 8248. tribedubai.com
Good Vibes Market
One of the newer arrivals on the city’s market scene, Good Vibes makes the most of Alserkal Avenue’s creative community, bringing together artisanal food producers, musicians and entertainers for sporadic community events with a seriously cool, bohemian vibe. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for upcoming dates.
Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz. facebook.com/goodvibesmarket
A longtime regular at Dubai’s coolest markets, this Aussie-run start-up specialises in breezy dresses, woven beach bags and colourful beaded and tasselled jewellery – and it recently opened its first store.
The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, Beach Road, daily 9am to 7.30pm. Tel: (050) 461 9388. 2birds.littlemajlis.com
DISCOVER YOUR SPIRITUAL SIDE
Describing itself as an urban retreat, this eclectic space has a yoga and pilates studio and hosts a packed timetable of classes and events covering everything from energy healing to Tai Chi and Qigong. It also boasts a healthy cafe serving vegan dishes.
27B Street, Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Sun to Thurs 8.30am to 6.30pm, Fri and Sat 8.30am to 7pm. Tel: (056) 534 2899. lifenone.com
New to the city, outdoors enthusiasts would be wise to explore this tranquil little beachside camping spot before the real heat of summer arrives. Set on the shoreline near Jebel Ali, the site is kitted out with dozens of permanent, wooden-framed tents, so you only need to take yourself and a cool box. There’s a barbecue area, weekly beach yoga and over water hammocks for those social media moments.
Banan Beach, Jebel Ali, daily 24 hours. Tel: (050) 501 6413. bananbeach.com
In a city not short on yoga studios, Karma stands out as a tranquil new haven in the heart of Dubai Marina, with a varied class timetable boasting everything from yin and hatha through to acro and swing classes and even yogic sleep.
Floor 33, Marina Plaza, Dubai Marina, Sun 8am to 9pm, Mon to Wed 7am to 9pm, Thurs 7am to 8pm. Tel: (04) 399 9301. karmayogadubai.com
Dubai’s original coffee roastery serves arguably the best beans in the city. All blends are ethically sourced and 100 per cent organic, and while the roastery is delightfully rustic, the new cafe space, opening soon, will be an essential hangout for anyone who really cares about what’s in their cup.
Warehouse 10, corner of 7A and 4A Streets, Al Quoz, daily 8am to 5pm. Tel: (04) 339 5474. rawcoffeecompany.com
Created by two Dubai residents following a life changing visit to Bali, it’s a healthy eatery that specialises in bowls (from poke to nusa) plus smoothies and a mix and match brekkie menu based around homemade, gluten-free toasts.
Bare Fitness, Clover Bay Tower, Al Abraj Street, Business Bay. Tel: (054) 426 9890. balibowls.com
Truly artisanal in its approach, this super-cool, ethically-minded chocolate factory uses local flavours to create bars that are finished in custom packaging by local artists. The cafe space also sells handcrafted global-chic interior goodies from the countries its cocoa hails from.
Warehouse 70, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Sun to Tues 10am to 7pm, Wed to Sat 10am to 9pm. Tel: (04) 333 5888. mirzam.com
There’s meat and fish on the menu, but this plant-forward eatery puts veggies front and centre with unique results – try the deep root salad or harissa honey chicken with a moreish carrot puree, but leave room for the cashew-based chocolate pot.
Sunset Mall, Beach Road, Jumeirah 3, daily 7.30am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 339 1300. sesamedubai.com