Under the stars, Dubai’s rooftops are the hippest spots to be
Winter is the time to head to the rooftops of Dubai – the ultimate place to catch a sunset over the Gulf or watch the twinkling lights of the big city. Whether you want to dance, chill, eat or admire quirky décor, there’s something for all tastes. Here are some we especially love.
Head down Jumeirah Beach Road to find one of the coolest rooftops in Dubai – the Mercury Lounge. Yes, there are extraordinary views – on one side the Burj Khalifa and downtown and on the other the Arabian Gulf – but it’s more the chilled-out atmosphere and comfortable seating that makes this one of Dubai’s best roof spots. There’s an elegant selection of Mediterranean-inspired bites including sharing plates and light entrees, and an extensive drink menu accompanied by a chilled Ibiza-vibe from the resident DJ and a transfixing saxophonist. Although the Dubai skyline is all around you, Mercury’s aim is to make you feel that you’ve been transported to a white-washed island in Greece – something they achieve remarkably well.
Pure Sky Lounge
JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) is another of Dubai’s highly successful acronyms. This buzzing hotel and residential hub packs more high-rises into one kilometre than most international cities. But it’s also on the beach and, along with the nearby Dubai Marina and JLT (Jumeirah Lake Towers), makes up Dubai’s “party triangle”. In the middle of this is the elegant and relatively chilled Pure Sky Lounge. It is aptly named, with stunning, near 360-degree views, taking in the Palm Jumeirah, JBR and miles of beaches. The décor is simple and unobtrusive with seating on white cane couches and views unobstructed as glass protective barriers maximise the sightlines. The food is light and healthy with options such as white tuna ceviche and pickled beetroot carpaccio with goat cheese dip. Note for beginners: JBR is on the other side of town from Jumeirah Beach, which stretches over 40km. Make sure you say “JBR” clearly to the driver, or take the Metro to Damac Properties station.
“Eclectic”, “bizarre”, “Alice in Wonderland-ish” – these are just a few of the phrases thrown around about this very original rooftop destination. The name itself is a clever double act, and they don’t mind if you call it Vii, using the symbols as letters, or Seven (Vii/VII is located on the seventh floor of the Conrad Hotel).
The club, too, is a double-act, with an intermezzo. It starts with the entry area, encircled by zebra-themed couches running the length of the walls, all polished timber and sleek lighting fittings.
You then pass through a futuristic tunnel, more exposed wood and mood lighting, and emerge into the real delight – a lush green garden literally hanging off the side of the building.
This comes complete with a huge archway hedge encircling the modern-looking decor, including a golden chandelier hanging from the middle, more quirky furniture, ample space to dance and mingle, plus a great view of the downtown skyline. At the other end there is another lush green wall spotted with gilt-edged mirrors. Make Vii Lounge your after-dinner rendezvous – it stays open until 3am every day.
Be grateful the Uptown Bar has such a prosaic name – we like to think that adds to its hidden gem status (despite the kitsch boat design on the façade that makes it look like you are on a billionaire’s cruise). Located on the 24th floor of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, it’s upstairs from the ever popular Jamie’s Italian. There are always comfy lounges or high tables to sit at to soak up the extraordinary views of the sea and skyline. It might sell itself on style and sophistication but the best thing about the Uptown Bar is how relaxed it is, meaning you can literally stroll straight off the beach – although you may want to put on a shirt first.
There is a snack menu, but the smart tip is to have dinner first at Jamie’s or Latitude downstairs then head to Uptown. Don’t be put off by the smoky interior as you enter – go straight through and out onto the expansive terrace.
The Dubai Marina at night is one of the most exquisite locations in the city, with dhows, luxury cruisers and party boats slowly making their way up and down the wide canal. And the Marina is best observed from the roof of Pier 7 – a block of restaurants and clubs in the centre of the Marina – with a different restaurant theme on each floor. At the top of Pier 7 is Atelier M, rooftop lounge, restaurant and one of Dubai’s most popular night spots, with good reason. On the first floor there is an opulent lounge area, while upstairs the roof offers stunning vistas along with cool sounds, a dance floor and table and sofa seating. The quality Mediterranean-style menu features scallops, smoked tomatoes and garlic crostini and air-dried beef pizza with taleggio, wild arugula and shaved parmesan, which you can enjoy on the terrace downstairs or on the roof.
The Tree house
Take a breather in the Burj Khalifa’s spectacular backyard. Located on the top floor of the sleek Taj Dubai hotel in Business Bay, the world’s tallest building towers overhead, offering a stunning backdrop and an even more stunning lighting display. The Mediterranean-infused menu, designed by Chef de Cuisine Aabhas Mehrotra, offers light tasty treats while the drinks menu is also wide-ranging. The Renaissance-style décor is unique (note the randomly placed fireplace). The Treehouse has recently undergone an upgrade with the opening of a new greenhouse, making it a leafy oasis in the middle of an ever busier city.
Luna Sky Bar at the Four Seasons, DIFC
With a casual, contemporary vibe, the Luna Sky Bar is another venue making the most of a superb location. From this rooftop at the Four Seasons Hotel in DIFC, you can take in captivating vistas of Dubai’s financial district, the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. There are two seating options: inside or out on the terrace. The food menu is short but well selected with a Japanese and South American feel – we love the black mint and soy marinated chicken with lime. Simple, stylish with a real DIFC edge, this hotspot is perfect for a pre- or post-dinner catch-up and also offers an in-house DJ, who keeps the volume at a level allowing conversation.
Time Oak Urban Garden
For a rooftop with a twist, head to The Urban Garden at Time Oak hotel. Launched by organic food guru Laura Allais-Mare, as part of the Slow Food Dubai initiative, the Garden on the rooftop of the Time Oak Hotel and Suites in Barsha Heights is Dubai’s only volunteer-run organic garden. Located on the pool terrace of the four star hotel, the garden produces fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in organic compost and fertilizers. The first heirloom seeds were planted last year and since then a small army of volunteers has toiled away to prove that organic food can be grown and farmed sustainability in the heart of a city, even one as modern as Dubai. Birds and bees are attracted to the thriving edible oasis. More than 50 types of fruits, herbs and vegetables are being grown. All produce is used locally, fulfilling Slow Food’s goal of recognizing the link between “people, plate and planet”.