Extravagance and glamour are the twin stars of Dubai’s reputation, and the city is indeed home to a multitude of high-end restaurants and nightclubs. Excess is the word of the day at these venues, with attitudes and outfits to match. Alcohol is served only in bars, clubs and restaurants situated within hotels and private clubs, but this is hardly an inconvenience as the majority of hotels and resorts offer plenty of dining and partying options.
Many international live music acts and famous DJs regularly perform in Dubai, and you’re bound to find an event happening each night somewhere in the city. Tuesday is a longstanding ‘ladies night’, where bars and clubs offer drinks specials to women.
The modern architecture in Dubai is definitely bling. It seems that the city is obsessed with world firsts, and is currently the home to the world’s tallest building: the Burj Khalifa. The 830m tower defines the Dubai skyline, and visitors can access the 148th level at 555 metres high, and the special lounge offers magnificent views over the city.
The music stops a lot at People By Crystal. Every time a bottle of champagne is ordered, a ritual procession of bar staff hold aloft the bottle with sparklers strapped to it, as they march to the buyer’s table. Outside the mega club is just as ostentatious, as Ferraris compete with Maseratis at the very busy valet service.
Located on the top two floors of Raffles Hotel, this enormous club offers a 360-degree view of the Dubai skyline, which really does add to the very glitzy interior. Entry is strict and ‘dressing-up’ is essential. The drinks don’t stop flowing and when it’s at full capacity, People by Crystal is an incredible sight as 1,200 people dance and cavort – especially at the longstanding weekend night, 411 Saturdays.
Going out and having a good time gets competitive at Serai. At the club entrance a leaders’ board shows which patron has spent the most that month on drinks: recently the prime position was held by someone who had spent 70,000dhs ($19,000).
This fusion nightclub hosts different themed evenings each night of the week, including karaoke, ladies night and live acts. The emphasis is on musical variety across an international spectrum, with some of the latest dance hits thrown in, and DJs work hard to match the music to the mood of the crowd. It definitely gets loud and excitable towards the early hours of the morning, as guests party hard and dance on sofas.
Since opening in 2003, Serai has managed to retain its place as one of Dubai’s most popular and busy clubs despite fierce competition. The service here is incredible and the very experienced and longstanding management ensure that parties are well entertained with tables stocked full of bottles and mixers.
Ayamna, overseen by head chef Ali El Bourji, is one of Dubai’s finest Arabic restaurants, serving classic Lebanese cuisine in a fine dining setting with modern preparation and presentation. El Bourji grew up in Lebanon and has translated his childhood family meal experiences into a menu that features many Lebanese classics alongside more inventive dishes. “Ayamna” in Arabic means “the good old days,” and it is this driving concept of feasting and enjoying food in good company that is the spirit of the restaurant.
In Lebanese restaurants it is customary to order many dishes and for everyone to share, combining hot and cold mezze with meat and fish main courses. The kibbeh mabrumeh (based on a classic mince meat croquettes) is one of the signature dishes, based on a recipe El Bourji’s mother made for him as a child.
There is a varied selection of alcohol and some of Lebanon’s finest wines on offer, along with a cocktail menu that uses Arabic ingredients, such as the Lebnani: a mix of the Lebanese spirit arak with grape juice and za’atar. Open daily for dinner, with an additional lunch service at the weekends, there is also live music and a large outdoor terrace with shisha.
Dubai prides itself on having an excellent service industry, and a trip to Nasimi Beach at Atlantis, The Palm, is the ultimate five-star experience. Open to the public (with a minimum spend on sun loungers), the complimentary amenities are a big draw for sunbathers. Sunglass cleaning, frozen fruit sticks, ice-cold face towels and atomiser sprays help keep visitors refreshed. The Atlantis is one of Dubai’s most iconic and sought after hotels, so it’s a real treat that they have opened up the beach for non- guests to access.
Nasimi Beach is also the place to go for superb food. The beachside restaurant has indoor seating, a large terrace and service to sun loungers. There are standard dining options, such as sandwiches and burgers, but there are also more sophisticated, beautifully prepared options such as beef tartare, sushi and grilled seafood platters.
Al Mahara Restaurant
The Burj Al Arab is one of Dubai’s most iconic buildings. Since opening in 1999, the sail-shaped hotel has been synonymous with extreme luxury and famed for its seven- star rating.
Al Mahara serves sumptuous seafood in a very different setting. At the entrance to the restaurant there is a golden oyster shell, while guests are then seated at tables next to an enormous floor-to-ceiling aquarium full of over 70 types of exotic fish. It was recently announced that celebrated English chef Nathan Outlaw will be taking the helm of the underwater-themed restaurant as of September 2016, bringing his noted talent for cooking seafood and use of local and seasonal ingredients to the table.