Whether you’re looking for a quiet night munching on tapas and nursing a glass of red, or are dressed to take on the dance floor, you’ll probably find a suitable venue amongst the ever-growing selection of nightspots on offer.
As with the restaurant scene, dress codes veer towards the smart rather than the casual. Large groups of gentlemen will have problems getting into most venues, so try and break up into mixed gender groups or couples. Some establishments have a shiny ‘members only’ sign on the door, which is generally ignored, but may be enforced on busy nights.
Although the drinking age is 21, you are well advised to take some form of ID even if you’re well above the legal requirement. Arguing with the doorman is pointless and if you are refused entry due to your youthful glow, you will be left to make your way home alone. If you decide to book a table in a nightclub, expect to be subjected to a hefty minimum spend.
While many bars have a reasonably relaxed attitude towards dress code, some places will not allow you in if you are wearing shorts and sandals, while others require a collared shirt and have a ‘no jeans or trainers’ policy. In general, nightclubs are more strict, so dress to impress.
If you want to test your brain power and knowledge of useless trivia then grab a group of mates and head to one of Dubai’s many pub quiz nights. Try Boston Bar or Player’s Lounge on Mondays, or Tuesdays at the Dhow & Anchor, Jumeirah Beach Hotel. If you don’t mind fierce competition, give the quiz at the Arabian Ranches Golf Club a go, or enter the Girders quiz and enjoy some Scottish pub grub at the same time.
The glitz and glamour of Dubai’s bar scene is all very well, but sometimes you just want a joint where you can catch the big match and enjoy a pint with your mates. These venues are recommended for supping and spectating: Barasti, Boston Bar, Champions, Double Decker, Girders, Nezesaussi, and The Underground.
Lucky ladies can go out almost any night of the week and enjoy free drinks. Of course, this isn’t a charitable venture by Dubai’s bar scene; where ladies are drinking, the men and their wallets inevitably follow. Tuesday is the biggest ladies’ night with many bars and pubs offering at least two free drinks. The most legendary venues are Oeno and Healey’s Bar & Terrace, while Boudoir and Blends are very lady friendly, with free bubbly or cocktails nearly every night of the week. Icon Bar is perfect for free post-work drinks straight from your office in Media City. In the interests of equality, the Media One Hotel is now hosting Madmen in Z:ONE on Mondays – where the boys get to enjoy two free drinks.
Harry Ghatto’s in Emirates Towers is a popular haunt, while the post-brunch karaoke sessions at Double Decker range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Also try Checkers Bar at the Majestic Hotel in Bur Dubai. For a unique night, try ‘curryoke’ at It’s Mirchi in the Ramee Royal Hotel, Bur Dubai, which serves up Indian fare. On the other side of the creek, Kisaku is a good option, with private rooms for groups. Or sing your heart out at the Hibiki Music Lounge, a cosy karaoke lounge with three private rooms. For something a little more low-key (where you can also grab a tasty bite to eat), check out Kung Korean Restaurant and Karaoke in TECOM’s Byblos Hotel.
Drinks can be expensive in Dubai, but thanks to the numerous happy hours around the city, you can enjoy a drink without emptying your bank account. It’s not just bars desperate for custom that offer happy hour promotions – stylish joints such at The Observatory at the Marriott Harbour Hotel offer a three-hour Happy Hour daily; as does ICON Bar and Lounge, Radisson Blu, Media City. The usual start time is 5pm or 6pm, so don’t forget to pencil in dinner to avoid that soul-crushing hangover the next day.
If you’ve enjoyed a few drinks with dinner then leave the car and contact Safer Driver. You’ll be breaking the law if you drive after even one drink, but this clever service means you avoid that and the hassle of picking up the car in the morning. Simply call 04 268 8797 and a driver will take you and your car home then be on his merry way. Be sure to book in advance.