Emirates

Like a Local: Downtown Dubai

by Sian Marsh  |  Published February 16, 2017

Dubai has a truly luxuriant atmosphere from the smell of spices that flavour the air to the pristine glass used throughout buildings and the rose petals floating in water fountains throughout hotel lobbies. Whether you are in Dubai for business or pleasure, the business district offers some exuberant places to spend your afternoons and evenings. 

Jumeirah Beach, Dubai (Photo: Sian Marsh)

Jumeirah Beach, Dubai (Photo: Sian Marsh)

You are unlikely to walk along the streets of Downtown Dubai and find restaurants and bars to wander into; most destinations are concealed on the top floors of the tallest towers. If you want to experience Dubai like a local, eating, drinking, relaxing and lounging in the places to be seen, after work or on weekends, here are a few places to try.

Bars

Interior of the Cavalli Club (Photo: Cavalli Club)

Interior of the Cavalli Club (Photo: Cavalli Club)

There is no mistaking who designed the lavish interior of The Cavalli Club (Fairmont Hotel, Sheik Zayed Road). Its mirror black floors reflect the crystal chandeliers draped from the tall ceilings. Black and white come together in a mixture of unique patterns. Cocktails are decorated just as lavishly as the club’s interior, elaborate and embellished.

For the soulful sound of jazz to help you unwind Blue Bar (Novotel at the World Trade Centre, Sheik Zayed Road) will provide. Listen to live jazz and blues here on the weekends when performers can be found grooving with their saxophones as you sip libations.

Find luxury with a view at Vault (JW Marriott Marquis, Sheik Zayed Road). Located on the 71st and 72nd floors, enter through the gold vault door and relax in the seductive atmosphere created by black velvet, gold and mirrored furnishings. Full-length glass windows parade views of the Burj Khalifa and the carpet of city lights.

Restaurants

Prime 68 (Photo: Prime 68)

Prime 68 (Photo: Prime 68)

Just three floors down from Vault, Prime 68 (JW Marriott Marquis, Sheik Zayed Road) serves up views of the Burj Khalifa alongside elegantly presented food. The menu mixes the best of land and sea in unconventional ways; a Lobster Thermidor is turned into a casserole with the addition of mushroom and a bourbon sauce. For extra entertainment choose the banana forster for dessert. Freshly mixed and flambéed at the table, this dessert excites the entire restaurant.

Experience dining in the tallest tower in the world. Zuma (Gate Village 06, Podium Level, Al Sa’ada Street, DIFC) is notoriously known as the best restaurant in Dubai. It offers traditional Japanese cuisine with a contemporary twist. Glass, geometric columns, light wood and white mosaics blend while waiters offer suggestions of the freshest food available that day.

Catch (Fairmont, Sheik Zayed Road) projects a rustic but luxuriant feel with its brick and concrete walls and brown, button- cushion booths. Predominantly a fish restaurant, it also serves a selection of meats. All dishes are created from an unusual blend of flavours, including desserts, making the menu well worth a look.

Brick feature wall at Catch (Photo: Catch)

Brick feature wall at Catch (Photo: Catch)

Pools

The dark blue tiles offset the lush green foliage to create this oasis in the Conrad Hotel (Sheik Zayed Road). The Pool is broken up by flower beds, chopping the pool into an irregular and interesting shape. A water fountain in the shape of an Arabian palace entrance separates the deeper part of the pool from the shallow passage that circles the feature.

The Palace Hotel (Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard) has a vast rectangular pool lined with palm trees symmetrically planted in squares, which protrude into the pool. The squares create small, secluded areas, each with a tiled ledge to sit and enjoy a cocktail while cooling off. An abundance of cabanas line the pool front, wrapped with curtains to provide shade and privacy.

Catch sunrise and sunset at the Fairmont Hotel (Sheik Zayed Road) pools. Both are located on the terrace which overlooks the city towards the Persian Gulf. Glass bannisters ensure your view is not obscured. The Sunrise pool is accompanied by a jacuzzi and the Sunset pool includes a shallower children’s area.  Potted palms and wooden loungers decorate the pool edge with shade provided by umbrellas.

View across the Persian Gulf from the Fairmont Terrace (Photo: Fairmont Hotel)

View across the Persian Gulf from the Fairmont Terrace (Photo: Fairmont Hotel)

Shops

Design 971 (Dubai Mall, Financial Centre Road) provides a platform to showcase up-and-coming designers from the Middle East. Predominantly selling women’s and men’s clothing, they also include work from furniture, artwork and homewares designers. If you are looking for a unique piece to take home, check out this house of emerging talent.

To add a touch of Arabia to your home Al Shareif Gallery (Souk Al Bahar) sells authentic Persian homewares. Stocked full of Persian rugs hanging from ceiling to floor, Moroccan style lamps put together from an assortment of coloured glass and metal, shisha pipes, brightly coloured hand painted bowls, antiques and textiles, this Aladdin’s chest is a sight worth seeing.

For traditional snacks to take home and share (or not) Munch ‘n Crunch (Souk Al Bahar) offers healthier versions of Persian snacks. Cinnamon-roasted and honey-roasted nuts are displayed alongside chocolate coated dates, baklava, colourful marzipan and nougat, dried fruits and brittles. All of their snacks are made in their local factory with the freshest, top-quality ingredients producing irresistible flavours.

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