By Lubna Hamdan
A truly elite beach club with an unpretentious atmosphere and an equally down-to-earth crowd
Driving down the Pearl Jumeirah to world-famous beach club Nikki Beach, we dreaded a soulless atmosphere and an ostentatious crowd - the club is not exactly known for its modesty. Having been founded in Miami in the late 90s, it set the tone for glamorous beach dining, lounging and entertainment for many successors to come. Naturally, the Dubai branch maintains the same allure, but thankfully ditches any signs of pretentiousness. Instead, it is effortlessly chic, elite and while down-to-earth, incredibly energetic.
Designed in its signature all-white modern palette and warm tropical palm trees, it is part of the larger Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Dubai. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon (around 1pm – an hour after it opens) to find its outdoor terrace and large pool area already half full.
We were greeted by outgoing staff who led us to a rather spacious beach bed which included a side couch for two and low dining tables – the area could easily fit five.
Hungry as ever, we went ahead and ordered a sharing platter for two - Sushi Dragon – encompassing salmon and tuna rolls and mixed sashimi and nigari. While the sashimi was visibly fresh, our favourite roll was the salmon with garlic mayo. It had a distinct taste we could not get enough of. The platter was generously-sized, so we lounged in the water-submersed sun beds (ultra-comfortable) until we had space for round too.
This time, we went for the Nikki Beach Famous Chicken Satay. The dish comprises rich-tasting marinated chicken strips which, apart from being tender, were juicy and savoury thanks to a spicy peanut sauce. Served with jasmine rice in a bamboo steamer, it also came in a large portion.
Hoping to ease some of our fullness, we headed to the club’s private beach strip. With no construction in sight to obstruct our sea views, we found the strip serene and almost other-worldly (besides the marina skyline behind us, we almost forgot we were in Dubai). The beach also had intimate high cabanas more suitable for reserved couples or small crowds.
Craving to get a taste of the club’s highly-recommended dessert, we headed back for the Tart Tropezienne: a light home-baked brioche with orange cream filling. It was light, flavoursome and not too sweet: just the way we like it.
While Nikki Beach closes at 9pm, the after-party continues in an indoor lounge located above the restaurant. We left around 7pm when the atmosphere was still very much alive. The music was an upbeat mix of hip hop and house complemented by live-saxophone players who roamed the area. The atmosphere was friendly, sociable but not too noisy or tacky.
All the above plus the fact it is open seven days a week all year round makes Nikki Beach our favourite Dubai beach destination yet.