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Michelle Balmer visits three sky-high Dubai bars.
A sky-bar is more than just a place to sip a cocktail or an ice-cold brew. Appreciating a new metropolis from a skyscraper is a great way for travellers to get a quick overview of a city's size and surrounds. In Dubai, high-altitude bars provide several views that show the magnitude of the emirate's recent construction boom.
The bars are typically busiest on Thursday and Friday nights, as Dubai's weekend falls on Friday and Saturday. During Ramadan, which begins within the next week, depending on the sighting of the moon, no live music is allowed and alcohol is served only after sunset.
New Asia Bar & Club
New Asia Bar & Club is in the glass tip of a 97-metre-high pyramid but this is no ancient wonder. Decked out with sleek charcoal tiles, it attracts a youngish crowd when guest DJs perform. Visitors might prefer a subdued "regular" night to sip the bar's signature Dubai Sling, for 50 dirhams ($16.30). For a contrast of old and new, check the views looking back towards the city's original trading port, driverless public rail system and the colossal development named Business Bay. Much of Dubai can be seen from here, so bring a map to help you make sense of the city's construction projects.
Daily, 7pm-3am (reservations not required). 18th floor, Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road, +971 4 324 8888, raffles.com.
At an elevation of 200 metres, Bar 44 is an even loftier vantage point. Views of Jumeirah's palm-shaped island and New Dubai – which incorporates Dubai Marina and new residential and office towers in the city's south – compete for attention. In the distance you can spot the Burj Al Arab. The interior of Bar 44 includes woodgrain panels, nut-brown carpet with white swirls and ivory leather chairs. You're likely to find businessmen speaking in hushed voices or a lively, sophisticated bunch from Dubai's horse-racing circles. Bar 44 lays claim to the holy grail of champagne lists, with 44 choices, ranging from 625 dirhams for a 750-millilitre bottle of Drappier Brut to a heart-stopping 54,000 dirhams for the Drappier Primat, a 27-litre bottle of bubbly.
Friday to Wednesday, 6pm-2am; Thursday, 6pm-3am (no reservations). 44th floor, Grosvenor House Dubai, +971 4 399 8888, grosvenorhouse-dubai.com.
Neos is the highest-altitude bar in town, about 300 metres above ground. Take an ear-popping lift ride up to the 61st floor and change lifts for the final ascent to the 63rd. The bar's decor is dark, brightened by a faux starlit ceiling and six-metre chrome columns that resemble layered stacks of ultra-shiny coins. Tourists and expatriates swig premium spirits and cocktails such as the vodka-and-elderflower Imperial Black Berry, 60 dirhams. The prices seem justified, as Neos boasts the best sky view of the world's tallest building, the 800-metre-high Burj Dubai, set to open on September 9. Inside the bar, which is 50 metres higher than the Sydney Tower observation deck, you're level with a little more than one-third of the Burj Dubai structure. To see the top 500 metres of the building, however, you'll need to look up – way up. Looking down, you see the world's largest performing fountain, with its 6600 lights. The view below looks like a miniature model of a city. If you have time to visit one sky-bar, put Neos at the top of the list.
Daily, 6pm-2.30am (reservations recommended on weekends) 63rd floor, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai, +971 4 436 8888, theaddress.com.