With sweeping views, folly by Nick and Scott is an unbeatable spot for sundowners | Courtesy of folly by Nick and Scott
From blissful beach lounges and extra-special sundowner spots to Jamaican bars and jazz joints, Dubai’s nightlife is vibrant and diverse.
While slick clubs and overpriced lounges once dominated Dubai’s nightlife, things are finally beginning to change. The past decade has seen a slew of newcomers burst onto the scene, keen to diversify the industry with creative cocktail bars, casual craft-beer spots and everything in between. But a night out in Dubai doesn’t come cheap, so avoid wasting your cash and make a beeline for any of these brilliant bars.
If you’re looking for somewhere to sip cocktails at sunset while trailing your toes in sugar-soft sand, there’s nowhere better than The Jetty Lounge. Nestled on the private beach of the opulent One&Only Royal Mirage hotel in Umm Suqeim, the bar features comfy wicker sofas and beanbags dotted between palm trees, and during the evening, everything is softly lit by globe lights. The list of drinks is concise, covering expertly made cocktails, wine and beer, plus a few refreshing lemonades in flavours such as peach and melon and pineapple and pink grapefruit.
The first-ever bar from jazz icon Quincy Jones, Q’s brings something truly unique to Dubai’s nightlife scene. Despite its location at the extravagant Palazzo Versace, its interiors (plush carpets, black leather and mahogany) are simple and sleek so that the music can take centre stage. The resident artist changes every few months – always an up-and-coming star handpicked by Jones himself – with each one as talented and captivating as the last.
A vibrant Jamaican bar, Miss Lily’s combines disco balls, vinyl booths and kitsch neon signage with a soundtrack of reggae and dancehall, and serves plates piled with jerk chicken, curried goat, salt cod and plantains. In a city where polished cocktail bars and characterless lounges are a dime a dozen, this loud and lively spot is a breath of fresh air and the perfect place to start your night if you’re staying close to Sheikh Zayed Road.
Beirut sets the bar high when it comes to nightlife in the region, so it’s no surprise that, when it opened in 2013, Lebanese import Iris was an instant hit. It’s still loved by residents years later, thanks to its rooftop setting (complete with Burj Khalifa views), great live music and menu of fancy bar bites. The drinks menu is cocktail heavy, but each one is delicately presented and as Instagrammable as the bar itself.
Barasti has been a stalwart of Dubai’s ever-changing nightlife scene for decades. Its age has made it a little rough around the edges (and decor is virtually non-existent), but it’s casual, affordable and right on the beach. Its perpetually sand-dusted dance floors are guaranteed to be packed with a lively crowd on almost any night of the week. The huge, open-air venue is spread over several levels, stretching down to the sand where there’s plenty of comfy lounge-style seating. It’s a must-try-it-once, quintessential Dubai experience.
Every weekend, hordes of Dubai’s residents go out to play at Lock, Stock and Barrel – a cavernous live-music and sports bar with a mishmash of exposed brick, shipping containers, pool tables and flat-screen TVs. It has an all-American food menu that’s worth saving room for and a good selection of craft beers. Also, its riotous live band belt out classic rock anthems that never fail to get the crowd going.
Most visitors to Downtown Dubai flock to the fountain-side bars and restaurants clustered at the base of the world’s tallest building. However, for views from a less neck-craning vantage point, slide into a candlelit booth at Neos. Immense floor-to-ceiling windows frame sweeping panoramas across the whole of Downtown, including the Burj Khalifa, which is front and centre. The menu is just as fancy as the location, with drinks including unusual cocktails and mocktails (made with the likes of yuzu sorbet and pickled lemon) and snacks such as ahi tuna tartare and braised beef sliders with foie gras.
If you’re looking for a bar with a good selection of craft beer, you could do worse than spend a sunny afternoon at The Tap House. It’s on the Palm Jumeirah, surrounded by soothing sea views and rows upon rows of McMansions, but its exposed-brick walls, cement floors and Edison bulbs wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn. It regularly offers deals on food and drinks and often screens live sport, making it the perfect spot to catch a game while you’re visiting Dubai.
This whimsical restaurant-bar feels a world away from its touristic setting (a faux souk packed with souvenir stalls). At twilight, folly’s views over Madinat Jumeirah’s wind towers and palm-fringed waterways are magical, and you should arrive early to bag the best seats. Opened by two Gordon Ramsay-trained chefs, it has an intriguing menu of small dishes – saddle of lamb with whipped pine nuts and salsa, and feta with szechuan pepper and ponzu, for example – while its dreamy sundowners menu includes a glass of prosecco served in an antique-style glass with a raspberry ice lolly.
Old Dubai drinking spots that are worth going out of the way for are few and far between. However, whether you’re staying around this part of town or not, you should make time to visit QD’s Bar and Grill. It has a laid-back atmosphere that’s hard to match. You won’t find a flashy schedule of international DJs or elaborate cocktails here, but with views this good, who needs them? Right on the banks of Dubai Creek, with the city skyline just visible beyond the opposite shore, this is an unexpectedly impressive spot for a quiet drink after a day exploring the souks.