These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Our writer visited some of these hotels pre-pandemic.
With a skyline as dazzlingly good-looking as Dubai’s, rooftop bars are highly prized. At 830 metres – twice the height of the Empire State Building – the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is visible from miles away. But the Downtown panorama isn’t Dubai’s only postcard vista. While some sky-high bars overlook the emirate’s iconic cityscape, others preside over the glittering Arabian Sea, the traditional wooden dhow-filled Dubai Creek or the man-made phenomenon Palm Jumeirah, a 3.5-mile-long island shaped like a tree. With Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel now adding to the emirate’s superlatives, there’s even more to ogle.
LookUp Rooftop Bar, La Ville Hotel & Suites
La Ville’s imposing edifice occupies the end of a City Walk block, a fashionable residential and commercial district lined with bars, restaurants, lesser-known boutiques and street art. Days end as well as they start here. Take a spin class around the rooftop infinity pool (the star attraction), then cool down with a dip, soaking up Dubai’s distracting skyline, before enjoying breakfast in the leafy courtyard. In the evening, LookUp rooftop bar, wrapped around the pool, is the place for cocktails, shisha and sunset swims. Don’t miss happy hour (1pm-7pm) when selected drinks are AED 30 (£6) – or for AED 299 (£60) the three-hour Dip in the Dark experience includes unlimited drinks.
Luna Sky Bar, Four Seasons Hotel DIFC
Blink and you could miss the unassuming entrance to this eight-storey tower among the skyscrapers of DIFC – except for the scarlet carpet leading to the marble-clad lobby. It’s a lot smaller than its many hotel counterparts, but the intimate scale adds value and every inch is suitably polished and gilded. Despite its business-centre location, locals and leisure guests flock here for the crowd-pulling restaurants, world-class spa, glass-sided rooftop pool that garners a lot of likes on Instagram, and bars with dazzling Dubai skyline views. Cue Luna Sky Bar on the eighth floor, where light bites like truffle tuna sushi, kobe beef steaks and tiramisu with mascarpone cream complement the drinks menu (“Venus” with prosecco, strawberry and lychee anyone?).
Read the full review: Four Seasons Hotel DIFC
Cielo Sky Lounge, Park Hyatt Dubai
This exotic resort in the heart of the city overlooks the Dubai Creek, marina and city skyline and is adjacent to the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club where rooftop bar Cielo Sky Lounge is situated. Guests and locals quaff the likes of Whispering Angel and Patron margaritas as they catch up over sharing platters and live music. For those who can’t get enough of the mesmerising vistas, each of the hotel’s 223 rooms and suites faces the Dubai Creek and marina and has either a balcony or terrace from you where you can watch the yachts bobbing on the water and the sun set behind the dramatic skyline.
• The best hotels in Dubai
The Penthouse, FIVE Palm Jumeirah
Celebrities and influencers flock to this Palm Jumeirah party palace – and the impressively long pool is a peacock alley on weekends. Beyond the parties though there are elegantly styled rooms (overlooking the beach with its daily pageant of posh yachts sailing by), good menus and a stunning rooftop bar. Prioritise sundowners here at The Penthouse – its open-air terrace treats patrons to sparkling Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah views. It comprises two parts; the City View Lounge Terrace (for the day club and pools) and the Marina View Bar Terrace. A roster of promotions, from ladies’ night drinks deals to Friday brunch, keep the venues busy with a keen young expat clientele.
Read the full review: FIVE Palm Jumeirah
Siddharta Lounge, Grosvenor House Dubai
Expect old-school Mayfair-inspired hospitality at this twin-towered Marina property. At every turn staff are ready to charm visitors, room interiors feel expensive, and there are no fewer than 10 restaurants and bars to keep hunger and boredom at bay. Highlights include Classy Bar 44, a hidden gem with marina views, and bohemian Siddharta Lounge whose wraparound terrace enjoys the same vista. The foodie focus is on Mediterranean and Asian cuisine; if the menu allows, go for the spiced cauliflower steak which is as flavoursome as it is fashionable – best enjoyed to the Balearic beats of a resident DJ.
Treehouse, Taj Dubai
This bastion of modern luxury and champion of local heritage is a carnival of colour. More than 3,000 Indian sculptures and artworks adorn rooms, restaurants and public spaces; little touches reinforce that sense of being looked after; and new arrivals are bestowed with wooden prayer beads and rosewater mocktails – a nice welcome. Its varied restaurants are full of personality and happy customers, from dance performances and dim sum at Miss Tess (Tesoro by day) to Treehouse on the terrace, which is as leafy as it sounds. Cocktails, served in the twinkle of Burj Khalifa’s evening illuminations, might include wafts of smoke and wisps of dry ice.
Read the full review: Taj Dubai
SoBe, W Dubai – The Palm
Achingly cool and historically linked to the music scene, W Dubai – The Palm is a party palace. Think clubland interiors, pools colonised by waterbeds and white wicker tepee-like cabanas, and restaurants by world-famous chefs Massimo Bottura and Akira Back. Epicurean adventures begin at all-day diner Liv while drinks and gourmet bites are served on the Wet Deck and at W Lounge in the lobby. Enjoy sundowners at Latino-Miami-styled rooftop bar SoBe (a portmanteau of South Beach), then end the day in the sci-fi setting of Akira Back, the eponymous chef’s first Middle East restaurant and a massive hit.
Sol Sky Bar, Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef
An affordable, fashion-forward hotel in a modernist seven-storey Al Seef block (runs alongside Dubai Creek). Expect rooms with hammocks by the windows, an opulent rooftop pool bar (where it’s possible to swim laps) and a signature restaurant with a shisha terrace and decking down to Dubai Creek. Two treatment suites, sleek saunas and steam rooms are available for spa sessions, and all rooms feature a Dubai skyline mural (some Plush rooms come with hammocks by the windows). Keep the heat rising at Sol Sky Bar with a house daiquiri, made with spiced rum, lime and date syrup, and count the number of record-breaking Dubai landmarks you can spy from this gratifying vantage point.
Read the full review: Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef
Sky Bar at Cé La Vi, Address Sky View
With a 54th-floor infinity pool, views of the iconic skyline visible from the balconies, spa and lobby terrace, decadent spa, and palatial rooms, Address Sky View is Dubai’s answer to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. The Asian fusion party restaurant Cé La Vi is the hotel’s most fashionable hangout; its infinity pool and flower-framed swing dangling in front of Burj Khalifa make it a regular feature on Instagram feeds. Signature dishes include the 1.5kg Tomahawk steak and the miso-marinated butternut squash misoyaki, which looks and tastes like a cut of salmon. Don’t miss pre-drinks at the Sky Bar, where signature brews like Apple Pie and White Rabbit (Bombay Sapphire, milk syrup, orange cordial, lime juice, apricot liquor) from AED 75 (£15) tempt.
Contributions by Jenny Johnson
For more amazing places to stay, see our full guide to the best hotels in Dubai