A guide to Dubai’s best cinema experiences

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From seven star screens to licensed dining and food masterminded by a celebrity chef…

When it comes to cinema, as with most things in Dubai, we’re not limited to the standard cinema practices. In fact, there’s an array of luxury cinema experiences in Dubai you can upgrade to across the city – so we’ve been and checked them out for you.

From seven star screens to licensed dining, here’s our guide to Dubai’s best cinema experiences.

Hotel Cinema by Reel Cinema

Reel Cinemas second serving of licensed cinema experiences comes courtesy of a collaboration with Rove Hotels, bringing the first hotel cinema to the region. The boutique cinema only has one screen, with an intimate 46 seats upholstered in a kaleidoscope of colours. Included in the Dhs70 price tag is a soft drink and popcorn in inventive flavours such as wasabi and strawberry and cream, as well as having, but you can also order alcoholic drinks and more hearty cinema snacks before you go inside. Drinks are a reasonable Dhs35 for spirits and Dhs40 for beers and wines. A full bottle (for a longer movie, perhaps) will set you back Dhs175. Theres six food options on the menu, and it’s a concise range of easy to eat bites such as mini burgers, nachos and potato skins all around the Dhs40 mark. Due to the small size, it only shows a small selection of films each day, so there’s not a huge choice, but we love the fact that the cinema plans to balance showing both international blockbusters and regional cinema. Seats are cushy and comfortable and snacks are brought to your seat when they’re all ready, causing minimal disruption to the movie.

Reel Cinema, Rove Downtown, various timings, Dhs70. Tel: (04) 449 1903. reelcinemas.ae

ThEATre by Rhodes at Vox Cinemas

Vox cinemas are serious about their cinema snacks. So serious, in fact, that they’ve paired up with award-winning chef Gary Rhodes at two of their Dubai locations to bring you a top level dining and cinema experience, ThEATre by Rhodes. Don’t expect to be picking up your popcorn from a regular counter here, instead the waiting area is decked out like an upscale Gary Rhodes restaurant, with the option to dine outside ahead of the movie if you wish. Forget a simple choice of hot dog or nachos (although both are on the menu), here you’ll find an elaborate menu of chicken liver and foie gras pate (Dhs45), fish and chips (Dhs65) and even desserts such as cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding. You can order dishes a la carte (a standard movie ticket is Dhs168), or purchase a movie ticket for Dhs265 which includes film entrance, a three course meal, mocktail and coffee. Once you’ve placed your order, inside the cinema is just as plush. Oversized armchairs are well spaced, recline just right and come with a duvet and pillow for your convenience. There’s plenty of side table space for your dishes, and although service can be a little slow depending on how busy the cinema is, it’s discreet enough so as not to notice. Vox has really got the balance of dining and film just right, and we’d argue it’s the one to beat.

Vox Cinemas, City Centre Mirdif and Mall of the Emirates, various timings, from Dhs168. uae.voxcinemas.com

Licensed Cinema at Jebel Ali Recreation Club

A collaboration between Reel Cinemas and American celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the licensed, dine-in cinema is the first of it’s kind in the region, found at Jebel Ali Recreation Club. It’s reasonably priced, with a movie ticket, starter and main coming in at Dhs160 per head, with desserts and beverages priced individually. The selection isn’t extensive, but it’s a fully-loaded menu of Guy Fieri’s all-American signatures that includes the likes of trash can nachos, lobster roll and a bacon mac ‘n’ cheese burger. You place an order, with the option to add one of the two desserts for Dhs25, before selecting your seat and heading inside the cinema. The cinema itself is somewhat of a let down. Laid out more like a lecture theatre than a cinema, the armless leather chairs are more ‘stand to attention’ than ‘sit back and relax’. Drinks are good, and well priced at around Dhs45 for an alcoholic beverage, but any more than two will leave you exiting the film more times than you’d like. The food is good, although having three courses served through a film is somewhat disruptive to us, and no doubt our fellow diners.

Reel Cinemas Jebel Ali, Jebel Ali Recreation Club, Jebel Ali, various timings, Dhs160. Tel: (04) 459 5100 reelcinemas.ae

Roxy Platinum Plus

For a luxury cinema experience in Dubai, they don’t come better than Roxy Cinema’s Platinum Plus. Available at both the City Walk and The Beach at JBR branches, this is basically the business class equivalent of going to the movies. Forget lingering for your movie in the entrance with the standard ticket holders – these venues come complete with a private lounge where you can pre-order a range of cinema snacks as well as a la carte dishes. Service is discreet and if you stock up on snacks before the movie starts, you won’t find yourself with any need to leave once you’re settled in. Once inside, the movie theatre is filled with plush reclining leather chairs which are spaciously laid out, VIP buttons that allow you to order service from a dedicated butler and state-of-the-art sound and visuals. With blankets and pillows available too, we probably won’t be leaving until September.

Platinum Plus Roxy Cinemas, locations at City Walk and The Beach JBR, various timings, Dhs126. More info on website.

ScreenX by Reel Cinemas at Dubai Mall

The first of its kind in the UAE, ScreenX is now open at Reel Cinemas in the Dubai Mall. The 170-seater cinema boasts a 270-degree screen, which wraps around three of the cinema walls, leaving movie-goers feeling like they’re part of the film at times. As there’s only one screen currently at Dubai Mall, only one movie is being shown at a time in the immersive cinema format, so your options are limited. However, we don’t reckon you’d need to see a romcom in this format, and it makes sense to reserve it for action and adventure films. In terms of seats, they’re pretty standard, with ScreenX and ScreenX Plus on offer (the latter offering slightly more leg room, and placed towards the back of the theatre). The films are adapted to suit the screen, and although not all of the films will be shown in the 270-degree format, the parts that are really leave viewers feeling thoroughly immersed. For the highest impact, pick a seat towards the back.

ScreenX by Reel Cinemas, Dubai Mall, various timings, from Dhs68. reelcinemas.ae

Novo 7 star

You can find the Novo 7 star cinema at Dubai Festival City and Ibn Battuta malls. It’s not the greatest film selection (they show a couple of films at any time at both cinemas), but it’s usually the most popular ones. Before you get inside the cinema, you’ll be greeted by a lounge-style waiting area where you’ll be refreshed with a hot towel, and can browse a menu of starters, mains, desserts and snacks before heading inside. The seats are plush red leather, and each cinema-goer gets their own blanket and a cushion – which is a welcome sight in the highly AC’d theatre. You can order your food via an iPad between the seats, and the varied menu is well priced (dishes typically fall in the Dhs25 to Dhs45 price point). It features everything from burgers and pizzas, to salads, crepes, and ice cream sundaes, as well as the traditional cinema snacks such as popcorn and nachos. Service is efficient, friendly, and minimally disruptive, and once you recline in one of those red chairs, you’ll struggle to find a reason to move.

Novo 7 Star, Ibn Battuta Mall and Dubai Festival City Mall, various timings, Dhs158 with Dhs52.50 food and drink voucher. uae.novocinemas.com

Dolby Cinema by Reel Cinemas

For serious screen buffs, Dolby Cinema has been brought to both Reel Cinemas at Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall. It combines cutting edge viewing (you can expect to see colours you’ve never seen before on screen), with a surround sound audio that flows around you. Seats are comfy, and come with a slight recline too, to ensure maximum movie-watching comfort. While we weren’t blown away by the imagery – the sound was impressive and at some high-energy, high-action parts, it really felt like you were in the movie as the sound snaked from right to left. Best reserved for action films, we only wish there’d been a few more of those sound-busting moments.

Dolby Cinemas, Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall, various timings, Dhs50 Dolby, Dhs75 Dolby Plus. reelcinemas.ae

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