21 cool, unusual and alternative bars in Dubai to try

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How many can you make it to?

Bored of the same old watering holes? From offbeat dives to cocktail dens serving drinks with a dash of razzle-dazzle, here are the quirkiest bars in Dubai right now.

BEST FOR… GAMES

1. The House Party Bar 

Fans of the 90s, you need to know about this bar. The aptly named House Party Bar is throwing it back to your college frat days complete with cheesy tunes and red plastic cups, and is cleverly split into a series of ‘rooms’. Giant Jenga? You’ll find it in the garden. Beer pong? That’s in the games room. Table tennis? It takes place in the kitchen. Ball pit? Yes, there’s even a ball pit in the play room. 

The House Party Bar, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Mon and Thurs 6pm to 3am, Sun, Tues, Weds and Sat 6pm to 2am, Fri 4pm to 3am. Tel: (050) 995 5400. Metro: World Trade Centre. Facebook.com/HousePartyBar

2. The 44

This retro sports bar can be found alongside super club Dome and Mediterranean hotspot Babiole in Al Habtoor City. As well as showing all the big sports matches lives, you can get involved with some games of your own, thanks to the numerous pool tables, darts boards and even a double bowling alley inside. 

The 44, The Hilton, Al Habtoor City, daily 12pm to 2am. Tel: (05) 4581 1758. the44dubai.com

3. Rodeo Drive

For a taste of the Wild West, wannabe cowboys and cowgirls can take their chances on the revolving mechanical bull at this post-brunch party spot, which also has darts and table football. Yee-haw!

Rodeo Drive, The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 3425571. facebook.com/rodeodrivebardubai

4. Axe House

Bringing Shoreditch cool to Dubai by way of JLT is casual neighbourhood spot Axe House. As well as serving up some value deals throughout the week (their brunch is also a popular choice for a laid-back feast), the venue is home to a hidden den, where you’ll find pool, beer pong and even air hockey tables.

Axe House, Armada Blue Bay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT, daily 12pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 3999 577. Facebook.com/AxeHouseDxb

5. Stereo Arcade

Relive your youth with retro arcade games while listening to a soundtrack of 1980s and ’90s indie classics. Throughout the week, live music comes courtesy of comedic guitar duo Jetlag, soul-funk outfit Sound City and aptly named alt-rockers VHS.

Stereo Arcade, DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Dubai, JBR, Dubai, daily 6pm to 3am. Tel: (052) 6182424. stereoarcade.com

Best for… Dinner and a show

6. Enigma and Q at Palazzo Versace

The two-part dinner and a show experience at Palazzo Versace begins at Enigma, the hotel’s Iranian restaurant. There’s a limited three-course pre theatre menu (Dhs190), where you can choose from a menu of top quality dishes.  After dinner, the experience continues at Q’s bar and lounge – the first ever bar by music legend Quincy Jones. His purpose-built live music venue with living room-like space features performances from an ever-changing schedule of acts directed by Quincy himself. Currently, you’ll find soul star Rogelio Douglas Jnr performing.

Palazzo Versace, Al Jadaf, Dubai, pre show dinner daily 7pm to 11pm Dhs190, performances at Q’s are Tuesday to Saturday, 9pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 556 8888. palazzoversace.ae.

7. Billionaire Mansion

Swanky nightlife brand Billionaire Mansion is the brainchild of Italian F1 boss Flavio Briatore. Its electrifying dinner show offers quality Italian and Japanese food served up by local hero chef Reif Othman, to a backdrop of dance and acrobatics. The shows are every half hour and change regularly, with performers often migrating from the stage into the crowds of diners for an interactive touch. The venue operates a strict door policy so dress to impress.

Billionaire Mansion, Taj Dubai, Burj Khalifa Boulevard, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 5pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 5103100. billionairemansiondubai.com

8. MusicHall Dubai

Every Thursday and Friday, Music Hall at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray puts on one of Dubai’s most alternative dinner and a show productions. At least 10 successive multicultural live stage performances cover a wide variety of music styles, ranging from Middle-Eastern to Russian, from Rock to Gipsy fusion via French and American Pop, Salsa, Indian and Persian. Live shows are interspersed with DJ music sets, while the diverse gourmet menu overseen by Jumeirah Group Head Chef offers fusion cuisine served at tables, and international finger food served at the couches perfect for those wishing to dine and dance at the same time.

MusicHall, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Thurs and Fri 9pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 447 6646. jumeirah.com.

9. Maison Rouge

One of Dubai’s lesser known nightclubs is Maison Rouge. Filling a cabaret and dining experience shaped hole left behind by The Act, this intimate restaurant and lounge has more than a little burlesque feel about it. The shows range from ballet to sax players, and are on twice daily at 8pm and 10.30pm. Plus, there’s three free drinks for ladies every night from 10pm to 1am.

Maison Rouge Dubai, The Conrad, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily 8pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 352 8169. Facebook.com/MaisonRougeDubai

10. Cavalli Club

This designer restaurant and nightclub aims to bring the wow-factor from the door. You’ll enter through a dramatic steep staircase or a cowskin covered elevator (yes, actually), before being treated to some Mediterrasian dishes complete with a side of sultry lounge singing, dancers descended from the ceiling and daring acrobatics. Stay for the party later on and don’t be surprised to bump into a star or two. 

Cavalli, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily, 8.30pm to 3am. Tel: (050) 991 0400. Facebook.com/CavalliClub

BEST FOR… KARAOKE

11. Kung Korean

Hidden away on the mezzanine floor of the Byblos, Kung’s might not scream ‘glamour’, but it’s an old favourite for a post-pub sing-a-long. The eight private karaoke booths make it great for everyone, from a post-brunch crowd or a couple of crooners. Order some Korean pancakes, kimchijeon, if you’re feeling hungry. 

Byblos Hotel Dubai, Barsha Heights, Dubai, daily 9am to 2am. Tel: (04) 488000. Metro: Dubai Internet City. bybloshoteldubai.com 

12. Lucky Voice

If you want to sing your heart out one evening, karaoke spots don’t come much better than Lucky Voice. At their bi-weekly Wednesday and Friday brunches, you can expect to take part in crowd karaoke, and even get up on stage for a lip-sync battle. If you’re more of a shower-singer, opt for a private pod, where you can tackle 10,000 songs in a sound-proof booth.

Lucky Voice, Grand Millennium Hotel, Barsha Heights, Dubai, daily 4pm to 3am, Fridays 12pm to 3am. Tel: (04): 4478010. luckyvoice.ae

13. Maiden Shanghai

If upscale Asian food usually gives you the guts to give karaoke a go, head to Maiden Shanghai. The Asian restaurant in FIVE Palm Jumeirah is only home to one karaoke booth, so call ahead to reserve or get down to bag it early.

Maiden Shanghai, FIVE Palm Jumeirah, lunch 12pm to 3.30pm, dinner 7pm to 11.30pm (until 12.30am weekends). Tel: (04) 455 9989. maidenshanghai.com.

BEST FOR… NOVELTY FACTOR

14. Cirque le Soir

Contortionists, fire breathers and even sword swallowers have been known to grace this tamer sibling of the risqué London nightspot. It’s a real freaks ‘n’ beats formula – and although it might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s definitely one to try if you’re after a more unusual clubbing experience. 

Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri 11pm to 3am. Tel: (050) 9955400. cirquelesoir.com

15. Mr Miyagi’s 

You’ve probably enjoyed at least one wild night at Mr Miyagi’s. The funky Asian spot in Media One Hotel is famed for its crowd karaoke fueled brunches and thai bucket bar drinks. Coupled with a ladies’ night complete with an interactive show, silent disco Tuesdays and ‘the den’ at the back where you can get glittered up and play prosecco pong, you’re guaranteed to have a great, if slightly wacky, night out here.

Mr Miyagi’s, Media One Hotel, daily 12pm to late. Tel: (04) 420 7489. mrmiyagisdubai.com

16. GuGu Boat

Gugu

With room for 90 people, this vessel for hire stands out in a city awash with impressive yachts thanks to its funky fit out. On the lower deck you’ll find a glass-bottomed dance floor and DJ booth, while there’s a bar up top for sipping sundowners.

Marina Promenade, next to Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Dhs5000 per her, minimum two hours weekdays, minimum three hours weekend. Tel: (050) 1275873. guguboat.com

17. Miss Tess

At this kitsch Asian restaurant in the Taj Hotel in Business Bay, you can expect to have your dishes served up by karate-kicking waiters, break dancing samurai warriors or even Mario and Luigi. While it’s more of a restaurant than a bar, it’s bar side, called the Lucky Cat, serves up some great Asian inspired cocktails – as well as a daily ladies’ night. 

Miss Tess, Taj Dubai, Business Bay, daily 6pm to late. Tel: (04) 438 3121. misstessdubai.com

BEST FOR… RETRO VIBES

18. Nippon Bottle Co

In homage to the Prohibition era’s clandestine haunts, this bar’s precise location was kept under wraps when it opened a few years ago. Now the secret’s firmly out, head down to the financial district to sample a selection of blends inspired by Japan’s century-old hops and malt breweries.

Nippon Bottle Co, Dusit Thani, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 3570779. facebook.com/Nippon-Bottle-Company

19. Seventy Seventy

Part of the recent The Promenade development, Seventy Seventy is easy to miss while you’re admiring the stunning views across the Dubai Creek from the strip of Park Hyatt bars and restaurants. But you shouldn’t overlook it, the aptly named bar is kitted out in full seventies gear, and serves up an extensive list of signature cocktails as well as a top menu of bar bites.

Seventy Seventy, The Promenade, Park Hyatt, Dubai Creek, daily 5pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 602 1814. hyatt.com

20. The Clavichord

A cosy 1920s-style joint, The Clavichord offers themed nights, live music and dance classes, plus bar food and a selection of twenties-inspired cocktails. Head down early to take advantage of 50 per cent discount on happy hour from 6pm to 8pm. 

The Clavichord, Somewhere Hotel, Barsha Heights daily 5pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 561 0600. Facebook.com/theclavichorddxb

21. Barbary

This deli and club by restauranteur Joel Ghazal is inspired by speakeasy bars of 1930s Paris, and is decked out with cushy low sofas, checkered terrazzo tiles, red velvet curtains, crystal chandeliers and dim lace lamps. Split into three separate offers – the ‘deli’, the cocktails and the club – guests can enjoy a delicatessen-style menu, prohibition-inspired cocktails and weekly club nights named ’12 Inch Tuesdays’, ‘Hotel Amour’ Thursdays and ‘Disco Pink’ Fridays.

Barbary, TRYP by Wyndham, Barsha Heights, daily 12pm to 12am (lunch service from January 7). Tel: (04) 247 6688. barbary.ae

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