7 of Dubai's most stylish bars
Got guests in town that you want to impress? Well these are the places to take them.
From the stunning views to the intimate settings, these eight stylish bars deserve multiple visits due to their aesthetic appeal.
You know that saying: never judge a book by its cover? Well that’s our policy when it comes to bars. Largely because rowdy pubs in which big screens and sticky floors pass for décor are so often the scenes of the best nights out.
That said, there’s nothing quite like settling yourself down in surroundings so pretty they make you let out a little sigh of pleasure. Dubai being the spectacular city that it is, many bars compete to be the most attractive. Here are our favourites.
1. Jetty Lounge
A perennial favourite for expats looking to show off their adopted hometown to out-of-towners, Jetty Lounge manages to make you feel like you’re on holiday even if you’ve come straight from a ten-hour stint hunched over your desk.
Maybe it’s wandering through the lush, manicured gardens of the One & Only Royal Mirage to get to the entrance, birdsong filling the air. Maybe it’s the low-slung seating dotted around on the sand, artfully lit by glowing lamps and the setting sun. Or maybe it’s the jetty that inspired the name, stretching far into the water and crying out to be posed on for photographs. Whatever its magic quality is, one thing is certain: as other Dubai bars fall in and out of favour, Jetty Lounge endures.
DIFC is filled with good-looking bars, but Boca has something of an ace up its sleeve. The terrace is pretty – and fenced in by foliage that brings a welcome injection of green to the stark surroundings of Gate Village. The restaurant itself looks great too, particularly the island bar that’s the focal point of the venue. But it’s what’s hidden downstairs that makes Boca stand out.
In the basement you’ll find a cosy cellar with a long bench table that’s the perfect size for an intimate gathering, surrounded on all sides by wrought iron racks housing rustic wooden crates and row upon row of bottles of grape. Down here it feels more like a tucked away venue in the heart of French wine country, rather than the heart of Dubai’s financial district.
You can forget checking out the crowd at this new spot in the Sofitel Downtown, because your gaze will be fixed on one thing and one thing only: that view.
The walls at Inka are made mostly of glass, because right outside them stands the mighty Burj Khalifa, dwarfing everything that stands around it. Back inside, the décor is art deco inspired, with brass stools, low sofas, and some beautiful art work on the walls – including pieces by Tamara de Lempicka and Juan Gris that do an excellent job of competing with the views of Downtown Dubai for customers’ attention.
Sofitel Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Sun to Wed noon until 2am, Thur noon until 3am, Fri 5pm to 3am, Sat 5pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 3469295. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. inkadubai.com
Inside meets outside at VII, and the effect is most attractive. The rooftop bar at Conrad Dubai is sheltered from the elements by a canopy of leaves with a chandelier dangling from the centre. At one end of the bar is an entire wall of foliage, dotted with ornate, mismatched mirrors.
All that greenery reminds us of abandoned castles in enchanted forests, or a more glamorous (and less tragic) answer to Miss Havisham’s mansion in the Gwyneth Paltrow/Ethan Hawke adaptation of Great Expectations.
Elsewhere the furniture is a hotchpotch mixture of clashing colours and Louis XVI-esque chairs, all of which adds to the fantastical theme that gives VII its special something.
Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 8pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 4447444. Metro: World Trade Centre. conraddubai.com.
This snug bar has the air of a British gentleman’s club, thanks to the dark wood-panelled walls hung with paintings of horses. Winston Churchill himself wouldn’t look out of place puffing on a cigar in one of the plush armchairs dotted around the venue inside the Four Seasons.
The attention to aesthetic detail doesn’t stop with the décor. Everything from the stylish bar cart to the crystal decanters lined up on it has been carefully chosen – even the artfully mixed cocktails with elaborate garnishes are things of beauty.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai At Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, daily 4pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 2707777. Taxi: Four Seasons Dubai. fourseasons.com/dubaijb
It’s an overused (and often unwarranted) phrase, but Qbara really does have the wow factor.
A dazzling chandelier made up of dozens of shimmering spheres dominates the room and echoes the dome-like shape of the venue. An eye-popping 3D screen – or “live” wall – makes it appear as though entire sections of the wall are rippling back and forth in time with the live saxophonist performing on a small stage. No doubt it cost it (and then some), but Qbara looks like a million bucks.
Oud Metha Road, Wafi City, daily 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 7092500. Taxi: Raffles Dubai. qbara.ae
This place gives us major interiors envy every time we visit. The upstairs terrace, which has a cracking view of Le Royal Méridien’s verdant lawns and the ocean beyond, is a mash-up of everything that features in our fantasy holiday home, from the colourful tiles to the wooden beams to the stylish pendant lights.
In the absence of the real deal, sipping a frozen margarita (or two) on the stunning patio at Maya as the sun goes down is the next best thing.
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina, Sun to Thur 7pm to midnight, Fri and Sat 1pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3165550. Taxi: Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa. maya-dubai.com