What’s On Nightlife Awards 2023: Here are the winners...
What a night…
Dubai is among the world’s greatest destinations for making the most of those hours after dark. But it’s easy to forget the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen. Every year, without fail, What’s On recognises the faces and places that make the city come alive in the What’s On Nightlife Awards.
Across 25 categories, the awards focus on the city’s best nightlife venues, theme nights, events and so much more.
This year’s winners were revealed at the What’s On Nightlife Awards ceremony on October 25 at the iconic Zero Gravity, at a night of unbridled beachfront glamour, celebrating the very best of Dubai’s outstanding nightlife scene.
Without further ado, raise your glass to this year’s winners…
BEST LADIES’ DAY
WINNER: PRAIA, FIVE PALM JUMEIRAH
Praia is located along Palm Jumeirah’s western trunk at force-10 fiesta focal point, FIVE Palm Jumeirah. This beachside pool club and lounge is all about style, with delights from California and aromatic shisha all at the sunny location. Savour sweeping views of the Dubai Marina Skyline as you party the night away.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ROSÉ ALL DAY AT COVE BEACH
Fan-favourite beach club brand Cove Beach has it all. A stunning seafront location, a restaurant with delicious fare, a Rosé Lounge and not one, but three pools for you to relax to the max in. Located in Caesars Palace on Bluewaters Island, it is a Mediterranean-inspired haven.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ZERO GRAVITY
Zero Gravity is famed for fantastic poolside brunches, beautiful views and a legacy like no other. One of Dubai’s most longstanding pool and beach clubs has a restaurant, garden and lounge with an expansive a la carte menu that serves all day, inside and outside.
BEST LADIES’ NIGHT
WINNER: THE MAINE OYSTER BAR & GRILL
All the lovely ladies probably know about the legendary Ladies’ Night at The Maine Oyster Bar and Grill. One of the most famous spots in JBR, this seaside brasserie serves raw and seafood-focused plates with classic steakhouse fare.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SEVEN SISTERS
Seven Sisters is located in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, and set against the backdrop of the Dubai Canal, it offers nights to remember. Live dance spectacles, beats by the resident DJ and a connoisseur’s collection of craft cocktails. Head over for a Ladies’ Night extravaganza.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: IRIS DUBAI
This stunning lounge and bar located by the Meydan Grandstand is a functioning work of art. Iris is a bonafide nightlife venue through and through, with expert mixology, delicious sharing bites and live performances from some extremely talented musicians.
WINNER: MR. LEVIER
Mr Levier’s impressive local residency CV reads like a who’s-who of the city’s elite late-night revelling rendez-vous spots – Soho Garden, 1 Oak, Club Blu Base Dubai, Billionaire Mansion and more. Born Isaac John Ode, he rose to fame in the Middle East and performs some of the hottest sets every night across the region. He flaunts many feathers in his cap, including apparel designer.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NATALIE BROGAN
A veteran of the What’s On Dubai Best DJ Award, having won it three times, Natalie Brogan is a house force to be reckoned with. With a residency at Zero Gravity, she’s an experienced, perennial fixture in the DJ cityscape and making waves in a room full of men. We love that.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: DREW MORELAND
Manchester born and bred DJ Drew Moreland started his first season stint on the White Isle. The Ibiza underground tech-house DJ has been one of the founding fathers of the underground party brand and collective of DJ’s in Ibiza called Faction. Performing on the regular at spots like Soho Garden and Club Blu, he knows how to bring a party to life.
This mainstay of the Dubai live music scene originally hails from South Africa and has built a loyal and passionate fanbase in the city. Spicing up nights around the region, with their mastery over melodies and pitch-perfect performances.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: KARMAN LINE
This one’s all about *air guitar* the rock ‘n’ roll life. Dubai-based rock band Karman Line are as homegrown as it gets. The five-piece hard rock dabblers make for a multicultural crew and have recently released a debut album titled ‘Like a Machine’, with several music videos for the various singles.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BIG MOUTH
This trio calls itself ‘Dubai’s ultimate party act’, offering unique takes on popular covers along with a few riff-riding gems of their own. They play regularly in bars across the city and know exactly how to get a UAE crowd going.
WINNER: GOOSE ISLAND TAP HOUSE, FIVE JUMEIRAH VILLAGE
With plenty of sports bars and pubs around Dubai, Goose Island Tap House takes the cake. The gastropub offers up incredible craft beers, an extensive and delicious food menu, as well as serving as a fantastic place to gather some mates and watch your favourite sports on the big screens. Star Pub energy in abundance.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ERNST BIERGARTEN, 25HOURS HOTEL DUBAI ONE CENTRAL
The Germans, known for many things but it’s their contribution to the worlds of good beer and great meat-based, pub-friendly food, that they’re probably most fondly thought of for. Found in the 25hours hotel, while it is not your traditional British version of a pub, it’s one that isn’t easily forgotten.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: MCGETTIGAN’S JLT
From lively brunches to live music acts, and comedy shows to quiz nights, McGettigan’s in JLT is a genuine Dubai institution, delivering laid-back vibes, wallet-friendly deals and guaranteed top-tier craic.
BEST SPORTS BAR
WINNER: OFFSIDE, JA OCEAN VIEW HOTEL
If you’re looking for a laidback spot to catch up with your friends or watch all the latest live sports, look no further than Offside. Whether you’re challenging your buddies to a game of foosball, getting your thrills watching all the F1 action live, or just catching up over a pint, there’s always so much going on.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BEDROCK
Bedrock Dubai at Pier 7 is a big kid playground. Live games take place on their 20 screens, and if you want in on the action, have a go at their state-of-the-art darts and their well-known indoor golfing area – ‘The Bunker’.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BUFFALO WINGS & RINGS
Buffalo Wings & Rings is dedicated to bringing you the best deals in town across its branches in JLT and DIFC. Not only are the meals and drinks delicious, but they’re also pocket-friendly, so while you’re watching any of your favourite sports, happy hour drinks deals make it the perfect spot to head to.
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
WINNER: LOCK, STOCK & BARREL, JBR
Set up with tables surrounding the stage, and with a split-level offering of seating – there’s no bad seat in the house for a night of live music at Lock, Stock & Barrel, JBR. Hosting plenty of homegrown bands, the acoustics – as with the vibes – are always set to 11.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: THE TENT AT BLA BLA
Bla Bla offers an all-in-one experience, but The Tent stands out as the ultimate location for live music. Head down on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10.30pm to catch About Last Night entertaining the crowd, or keep an eye out for announcements on epic international gigs, which in the last year have included sets from Iyaz, Benny Benassi and The Script.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: JASS LOUNGE
Besides enjoying an atmosphere of opulence and exclusive cocktails, you’ll be swayed by the soundful sounds of jazz classics at Jass Lounge. Head here for drinks and to hear the tunes of different bands performing each night in genres ranging from soulful jazz classics to Latin jazz, with occasional regional instrumental support from talented oud players.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT VENUE
WINNER: TOPGOLF DUBAI
If you’re looking for a convenient venue that tees you up with hands-on, gamified fun times as well as enjoying frosty pints and juicy burgers – Topgolf is the one for you. There have been many a night spent hitting the (golf)clubs and enjoying the vibes, between us here at team What’s On.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: CLAW BBQ, HILTON DUBAI PALM JUMEIRAH
Bucking bulls, pool tables, arcade games, beer pong – you name it, if it’s wild and wonderous, Claw BBQ probably has it. The Hilton Palm venue is tucked away and ideal for a date or a catch-up with mates.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: [U]BK, MÖVENPICK JUMEIRAH LAKES TOWERS
There is always a vibe at [U]BK. It’s incredibly family-friendly, with karaoke bars that provide mic-drop moments and a lovely terrace – you’ll always have a fun night out.
BEST QUIZ NIGHT
WINNER: GARDEN ON 8, MEDIA ONE HOTEL
The Garden on 8 quiz takes place every Wednesday and not only tests your general knowledge on everything from politics to music – but it is also a cracking good time.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: THE ELOQUENT ELEPHANT, TAJ DUBAI
This Downtown gastro pub offers an array of midweek activities, with a pub quiz being held each Monday – the perfect brain-flexing way to kick off the week.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SPIKE BAR, EMIRATES GOLF CLUB
This is one of the longest-running quiz nights in Dubai. It takes place every Monday from 7.30pm at Spike Bar in Emirates Golf Club and is hosted by Steve Johnson.
BEST BEACH CLUB
WINNER: TWIGGY BY LA CANTINE
We all know and love Twiggy for its stunning french Riviera-inspired beach-chic glamour and being the ultimate spot for chilling out on a warm day, soaking up the sun and sipping pretty waterside. As the sun sets, say au revoir to beach club bliss and bonsoir to a uniquley cool and refined evening.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NIKKI BEACH DUBAI
One of Dubai’s most legendary beach clubs, Nikki Beach Dubai has become a staple in Dubai’s beach club scene over the years. It is famed for its extravagant themed events, consistently sold-out ladies’ days, al fresco rosé-pumped brunches, and mood-elevating soundtrack,
HIGHLY COMMENDED: VERDE BEACH
A sun-drenched playground where guests can dine, drink, dance and soak up the festive ambience, Verde Beach is without a single sunscreen squirt of doubt, one of Dubai’s most luxurious beach clubs.
BEST BEACH BAR
WINNER: February 30
For the second year in a row, February 30 takes the top spot for Dubai’s best beach bar. Situated on Palm West Beach, the Beirut-born beach bar has become a beloved destination for beachgoers and the ultimate day-to-night hotspot. Laid-back beach days come with the added benefit of being pet-friendly, while sundowners in the lounge are served up against the backdrop of tropical house beats.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: CAÑA BY TAMOKA
Nestled right on the beachfront of JBR, Caña by Tamoka is the perfect place to sip a cocktail with magical views over the sea, sunset, Ain Dubai. An extension of Tamoka, few beach bars have become instant hits the way this sandy spot has.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SURF CLUB
From lively beach brunches to chilled sunset drinks, this Palm West Beach spot has a chic, Hamptons-meets-California-cool feel. Bag a seat out on the terrace or on the beach and toast to the evening with picture-perfect views of the sunset and the iconic Dubai Marina Skyline.
BEST SUNDOWNER SPOT
WINNER: SHIMMERS, JUMEIRAH MINA A’SALAM
With a neutral colour scheme and simple, yet luxurious setting, Shimmers lets its unrivalled views (with vista pixels including the iconic Burj Al Arab) do the talking. Tuck into traditional Greek cuisine from the sun-dappled restaurant, set out under a white-washed canopy, or sit yourself on a bean bag on the beach.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: THE BEACH HOUSE, ANANTARA THE PALM DUBAI RESORT
The Beach House at stunning Thai-inspired resort Anantara, The Palm, is a long-standing favourite for drinks by the beach. Sit out under the canopy with decking underfoot and huge fans blowing lazily overhead, or just bag yourself a seat right on the beach to watch a truly stunning sunset.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NOÉPE, PARK HYATT DUBAI
Park Hyatt’s NOEPE has that instant on-holiday vibe, thanks to its whitewashed colour scheme with nautical interiors, and its location perched on the edge of the marina. As the sun sets, the palm trees light up with twinkly lights, and cosy sofas around the fire pit serve as the ultimate date-night location to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
BEST DATE NIGHT SPOT
WINNER: 101 DINING LOUNGE & MARINA, ONE&ONLY THE PALM
Spectacular views, quality seafood and the opportunity to arrive by boat make 101 a wow-worthy restaurant that ticks all the boxes. It’s found in the private marina off the jetty of One&Only The Palm and boasts tables over the water as well as a seaside lounge and indoor seating looking out across the Gulf.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: HAWKERBOI
From humble beginnings as a supper club, homegrown gem Hawkerboi opened a permanent (licensed) restaurant earlier this year in The Park, JLT. The menu is an ode to Hawkerboi’s former life in the Far East, with influences from the culinary scenes in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NOBU, ATLANTIS, THE PALM
After a long stint in The Avenues, earlier this year Nobu Dubai relocated to the ultra-luxury Royal Bridge Suite in Atlantis The Palm, making it the world’s largest Nobu. Nobu from 22 floors up offers guests an elevated and tailored dining experience with outstanding food presentation, exciting flavours, a buzzy atmosphere, and never-before-seen incredible views.
BEST RESTAURANT BAR
WINNER: MIMI KAKUSHI
Fusing together perfectly the East and the West, Mimi Kakushi is a timeless venue that is undoubtedly one of the best places to head to for any special occasion. The Rikas Group just know where it’s at when it comes to pairing cocktails, with incredible food and an even better atmosphere.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BAGATELLE DUBAI
Your mission, should you choose to accept it at this French festive outpost, is to get your serviettes swinging, your table danced on and simply enjoy all the fantastic Gallic fare served all night long.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ZUMA DUBAI
This sleek upscale Japanese restaurant in DIFC, is a legitimate legend on the Dubai scene, known for its exceptional service, consistently faultless Asian cuisine, setting the standard for what sophisticated bars should look like and paving the way for a whole host of international exports to wash up on Dubai’s shores.
BEST SPEAKEASY BAR
Grecian vibes personified but underneath the surface of Gaia, Nyx, named after the Greek Goddess of the night – the embodiment of beauty and power. Tucked away behind a secret door in the souvenir shop of Gaia, is the moody speakeasy that is coated with luxurious crushed velvet and moody deep colours to boot.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: GALAXY BAR
Off to the side of Avli by Tashas, look up and experience a night under the stars. We can attest to the fact that Galaxy Bar may not be the most hidden speakeasy, but it’s one with a cosmic gravitational pull.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: 7 TALES
Wander up the stairs of City Social and experience a brand-new kind of Japanese speakeasy. Samuari-inspired drinks with traditional artwork sprawled across the ceiling, sip pretty as you enjoy the uninterrupted views of the Gulf.
BEST COCKTAIL BAR
Gothic grandeur oozes from every corner of Amelia Dubai, located within the grounds of Address Sky View. The cleverly arranged space comes complete with an organ DJ booth, a spiral staircase that leads to a separate dining room, and a magnificent clock that backs the bar. It’s here that the magic really happens, with inventive cocktails finished with delicate ice cups piled with fruit, edible flowers and even sides of caviar.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ABOVE ELEVEN, MARRIOTT RESORT PALM JUMEIRAH
With an incredible vibe and mesmeric views, the Latin and Asian fusion goes beyond the menu, it is ingrained into the aesthetic and celebrated in the mixology – all of which creates a show-stopping rooftop exposition of why Dubai’s cocktail terrace bar game is unrivalled on the world scene.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SALMON GURU
It’s a very intimate space that’s big on crazy. There are neon lightning bolts lining the ceiling and comic book ‘BAM’ signs fastened to the walls.
BEST ROOFTOP BAR
WINNER: CÉ LA VI DUBAI
Soaring 220 meters above sea level, Ce La Vi is a Michelin-guide Asian restaurant and one of Dubai’s highest rooftop haunts. The iconic venue features a sky bar, pool deck, lounge, restaurant, and unbeatable views of the Burj Khalifa from the 54th floor of Address Sky View Hotel.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ATTIKO DUBAI
This sleek space offers brilliant views of Palm Jumeirah and beyond from its 31st-floor location of W Dubai – Mina Seyahi. Open each evening, guests can enjoy tasty bites and drinks in a vibrant atmosphere, with DJs spinning deep, soulful, energetic music.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: COUCOU DUBAI
Cou Cou is perched 52 stories high on the top floor of the Palm Tower with mesmerising views across the twinkling Palm Jumeirah, JBR skyline, and shimmering waters of the Arabian Gulf. Whether you’re perched up at the grand marble bar sipping cocktails or catching up with friends over dinner in a dimly lit booth, you’ll be able to drink in the scenic views from every spot.
BEST DINNER AND A SHOW
The master of theatrical extravaganza, Billionaire Dubai is once again awarded Best Dinner and a Show – and for good reason. Billionaire Dubai takes the gastronomy x performance art format to a new level with glamour, sophistication and dramatic flair. Sit back and enjoy the spectacular choreography, singing and acrobatics, all while you enjoying fine Italian cuisine with a Japanese twist.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BABYLON
A fusion of cabaret and burlesque is set to enchant you all night long at Babylon. Masterfully choreographed sets boast high-energy performances and characters in extravagant costumes, often travelling through the audience as well as on the stage. It’s paired with a crowd-pleasing menu of European and Asian dishes, all plated perfectly and complimenting the upscale surroundings.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: DREAM DUBAI
DREAM is the lavish late-night dinner and show concept at the base of Address Beach Resort in JBR. Throughout the night, expect to be entertained by an impressive line-up of singers, dancers, aerialists, acrobats, confounding feats of illusion and more, all against the backdrop of a delicious Mediterranean menu and stunning double-height stage.
BEST AFTER-BRUNCH VENUE
WINNER: CLUB TROPICANA AT BLA BLA DUBAI
Fear not it’s still around but has moved to the backroom of Bla Bla. Club Tropicana is the ultimate 80s and 90s themed, after brunch/ drunch/ all things fun, party. If you’re looking to keep the party going, this is a must-visit spot.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SOBE, W DUBAI – THE PALM
If you’re heading to Akira Back on Saturday for Candypants’ brunch, be sure to carry on the party at the ultra-chic rooftop bar, Sobe. There you can take advantage of what is now a Dubai-wide open secret, a deal that secures you limited sips and partying into the evening. The deal at Sobe is open to everyone, even if you haven’t been to the brunch.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: PAROS, TAJ JUMEIRAH LAKES TOWERS
House music fans assemble at the sky-high Paros in Taj JLT. With DJ Natalie Brogan on the decks, post-brunchers can enjoy uplifting beats and endless views, alongside five hours of unlimited drinks. The party continues until 3am, so it’s perfect for all the night owls out there.
BEST EVENING BRUNCH
WINNER: STK DUBAI JBR
Throughout the city, there are countless places to enjoy fine dining fused with an incredible party atmosphere. But it’s high-steaks, trend-setting STK that sits in pole position for late PM brunching. The American steakhouse-meets-party-place aims to bring the marina party animals – and foodies – to JBR’s Rixos Premium.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: KŌYŌ
This Japanese fine dining spot is known for its disruptive-themed nights. Inspired by the haunts of Tokyo’s electric nightlife underground, KOYO erupted into Dubai’s soiree sphere last year in a shower of cherry blossom and neon-Geisha extravagance, serving up traditional-meets-contemporary fine Japanese dining.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BARFLY BY BUDDHA-BAR, HILTON DUBAI PALM JUMEIRAH
Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah’s rooftop hotspot Barfly by Buddha-Bar knows how to party. The restaurant, lounge and bar, boasts stunning views of the glittering skyline and the waters beyond the Palm Jumeirah. The city’s finest DJ sets offer an uninterrupted flow of entertainment throughout the week.
BEST PARTY BRUNCH
WINNER: CANDYPANTS BRUNCH REFINED AT AKIRA BACK, W DUBAI – THE PALM
The Candypants Brunch at Akira Back takes place every Saturday, and this Michelin-listed rooftop restaurant by celebrity chef Akira Back serves Japanese with Korean and internationally influenced cuisine in the best way possible. Think artisan sushi and tacos with sweeping views of the Palm, with a party vibe like DJ tunes, sparklers, and twirling parasols.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: WANDERLUST, JW MARRIOTT MARQUIS HOTEL DUBAI
When it comes to brunching in Dubai, few places have stood the test of time as well as Wanderlust Brunch. The popular JW Marriott Marquis brunch is now bigger and better than ever, serving up a world of cuisine spread over seven live cooking stations, paired with top entertainment every Saturday.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: CLAP DUBAI
Foodies familiar with the DIFC scene will be in the know about the ninth-floor restaurant called Clap Dubai. In case you missed it, the Japanese restaurant, originally from Beirut, is the open-air nightlife venue on everyone’s lips.
BEST CONCERT, GIG, OR NIGHTLIFE EVENT
WINNER: BLACK COFFEE AT DUBAI HARBOUR BY WHITE
The stage that was set for the incredible South African DJ to make his grand return to Dubai – the venue was packed full of ravers, with lighting and opticals that made us see stars in the best possible way. Everything about the event was streamlined and once Black Coffee came off the stage, standing shoulder to shoulder – there was no place we’d rather be.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: TRAVIS SCOTT AT FLOAT DUBAI
After the knockout performance in the capital at Wireless, the Goosebumps artist made his way to Dubai’s only floating nightclub for a performance like no other.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: GARAGE NATION AT P7 ARENA
Taking place throughout the year, this nightlife event knows how to rep the old skool and new wave two-step, filling the P7 Arena with peak bounce energy and people jamming to some of the best MCs in the game.
WINNER: THE IRISH VILLAGE, AL GARHOUD
A venue that has been around for as long as most can remember, for longer . Irish Village in Al Garhoud has been open and thriving since 1996. Known for its delicious bangers and mash as well as countless live performances throughout the years and of course the adorable ducks that wander through the outdoor area. There isn’t much else to say about it because everybody has been there, and if you haven’t you must be new to the city.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BARASTI LE MÉRIDIEN MINA SEYAHI BEACH RESORT & WATER PARK
You can never go wrong with a night out at Barasti, the beach club that first opened its doors to the public in 1995 and has maintained its feel-good, no-fuss vibes and continues to be a staple in the list of where to go when you don’t quite know where to go.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: HONEYCOMB HI-FI
Hidden behind a wall of records in the Pullman Hotel in Business Bay, Honeycomb Hi-Fi has quickly cemented itself as the place to see and be seen amongst Dubai’s most discerning nightlife devotees. A banging soundtrack, studied aesthetic, spectacularly executed food and cocktails – Honeycomb Hi-Fi has not one weak link in its thriving hive.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: LING LING, ATLANTIS THE ROYAL
When heading to Atlantis The Royal you tend to expect grandeur. And Ling Ling delivers with exceptional cocktails, luxurious food, and stunning views more than justify the visit to Ling Ling.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BLACK FLAMINGO
Bringing jaw-dropping Miami maximalism to the Radisson Beach Resort perched on the waters of the Palm, its standout interiors feature details that draw you to every corner of the space.
NIGHTLIFE VENUE OF THE YEAR
WINNER: SOHO GARDEN DXB
Soho Garden binds multiple venue concepts under one roof, providing clubgoers with different genres to drop and bop. And that’s enough to put it in the running for tis prize, but what helped seal the deal was the roll call of spectacular artists that have graced those many stages.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SKY 2.0 DUBAI
This d3 nightclub, an export from Lebanon, constantly cements itself as one of the top places in the city when you’re looking for a fantastic night out. Sky 2.0 has pedigree, world-class nightclub carved right into its magnificent bones.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BLU DUBAI
If you’ve been to Blu at any point in the last 12 months, you will know that there are always the hottest artists paired with the best possible vibes at this Dubai nightclub.
Images: What’s On