The Liwa dunes are simply breathtaking and among the finest natural sights in the UAE. The drive beyond the city limits is worth it every time just to get a glimpse of the barren but beautiful environs. It may lack the sea view, but gaze across the infinity pool and you’ll have a sense of Arabian adventure at the Tilal Liwa Hotel’s poolside venue.
Open Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sun 6am-11pm. Tilal Liwa Hotel, Madinat Zayed www.tilalliwa.danathotels.com (02 894 6111).
The name means “The Sun” in Arabic and this outdoor spot on Abu Dhabi’s animal-abundant Sir Bani Yas Island is a rare location with romance, sea views and shisha. This isn’t a place you can just drop by at but make the trek out and you’ll discover why it is a sunset favourite with an exotic feel.
Open daily 11.30am-10.30pm. Al Shams, Desert Islands Resort by Anantara, Sir Bani Yas Island, www.sir-bani-yas-island.anantara.com (02 801 5400).
Not only is Aquarium a great spot for a post-work beverage, we’re also quite taken aback by some of its seafood promotions. Evenings offering up unlimited shrimp or sushi for just Dhs99 are not to be sniffed at (this happens every Sunday). What’s more, once you’re in you can look out at the cracking Marina views. Sunny afternoons, pretty sunsets and twinkling late nights are all exceptional.
Open daily noon-1am. Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.facebook.com/aquariumseafood (02 565 0007).
Asia De Cuba
Evoking the best sunsets of Asia and Central America and then giving them a sprinkling of Arabian hospitality seems a smart way to create the atmosphere on a lounge terrace. Light and airy by day and atmospheric and chic by night, Asia De Cuba deserves all the praise it receives. Friday sunset sessions from 4pm could not be any cooler for a post-brunch party or hip warm-up to a night out.
Open daily noon-2am. Nation Riviera, Al Khubeirah, www.asiadecuba.com (02 699 3333).
Any nightspot labelling itself a “panoramic lounge” is confident in its ability to deliver superlative views. Unforgettable sunsets might be an overused expression, but this signature bar in The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is seemingly designed for superior Instagram snaps and memory-making. Place it on your visitor-pleasing agenda and create any excuse you can to visit often.
Open daily 10am-1am. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, www.azuraabudhabi.com (02 694 4553).
Barfly by Buddha Bar
So dark and stylish are the interiors at this spin-off from the legendary Paris lounge that it is easy to overlook it as an al fresco location. But the placement on the Venetian Village strip makes it a really cool spot for sundown soirées with chilled beats and good eats with your favourite crew.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu 6pm-3am, Fri 12.30pm-3am, Sat 4pm-1am. Venetian Village, The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, www.barfly.ae (02 404 1951).
We don’t tend to fall in love so often at Time Out Towers. But with Valentine’s Day around the corner, our minds and hearts are calling out for a trip to the Park Hyatt’s gorgeous beach restaurant and lounge. Mediterranean food and Hamptons-style décor is a combination that just works and we like the understated cool here.
Open Sun-Thu 10.30am-midnight, Fri-Sat 9am-midnight. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat, www.abudhabi.park.hyatt.com (02 407 1138).
Is there such a thing as a mellow-seeker, the opposite of a thrill-seeker? The type of person who goes in search of a chilled-out vibe and cool music. Someone who’s in their element on squishy sofas and the type of ambience you’re happy to chat over or leave a comfortable silence through as you smile and take in the surroundings. If so, we’d expect to see them hanging out at the Reggae Sundowner sessions every Thursday at this popular Sheraton garden hangout.
Open daily 9am-midnight. Sheraton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road, www.b-loungeabudhabi.com (02 677 3333).
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
The closest Abu Dhabi has to a genuine Ibiza-style super club is a direct import from the Balearic island. Chances are you’ve danced on the sands to top international DJs and seen the after-dark atmosphere or sauntered around in the daytime catching some sun or enjoying a beach brunch. In between the two sessions there is a sweet spot when the tunes and crowd make for a glorious sunset vibe.
Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel, Ghantoot, www.bluemarlinibiza-uae.com (056 113 3400).
Emirates Palace is a classy place and it just gets the tone right time after time. We’re fans of beachside restaurant BBQ Al Qasr and reckon the casual barbecue spot is one of the top al fresco meal options in the city. However, for those times when you’re just after a few sunset mixed drinks and a sand-between-your-toes vibe, this neighbouring lounge gets it spot on yet again.
Open daily 1pm-2am. Emirates Palace, Corniche, www.kempinski.com (02 690 7999).
We reckon this was the best new restaurant in Abu Dhabi last year (hence us awarding it Best Newcomer of 2016). The triple concept means the restaurant is joined by a lounge and, most interesting of all, for the purposes of this round-up, a massive terrace. The space is one of the city’s finest verandas and whether you’re in it for brunch, late-night mixed drinks or one of the frequent parties, it is still new enough to be exciting but established enough to be in a successful groove. Pop here at sundown and you’ll see what we mean.
Open Sun-Thu, noon-3pm, 7.30pm-1am; Fri-Sat noon-3pm, 7.30pm-2am. The Hub, World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, www.butrinity.com (02 666 8066).
You are a lot less likely to find guest DJs and international starlets posing around the bar at this relaxed hangout on Yas Island. But for mid-week meetings with friends it is all the better for it. Sit out and enjoy the fresh air with your best buddies and leave all the strutting to those elsewhere in the city.
Open daily 5pm-1am. Centro Yas Island, Yas Island (02 656 4444).
We’re big fans of Nation Riviera and proudly tell Time Out-ers in cities all around the world about the joys of this stretch of Corniche. Whether dancing on the rooftop terrace or picking at dainty finger foods at the well-appointed ladies’ night, we reckon Catch is one of Abu Dhabi’s gems and a venue very much in tune with the post-work crowd.
Open daily noon-midnight. Nation Riviera Beach Club, Al Khubeirah, www.catch.ae (02 611 0909).
Between the bridges and at the water’s edge is a nightlife lounge with a giant terrace area, shisha and one of the biggest bars in the city. Whenever you go, the ambient atmosphere at the highly-regarded venue remains the same (not so chameleon-like, then).
Open daily 6pm-1am. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Al Maqta, www.fairmont.com (02 654 3238).
A venue berthed somewhere between Venice and Manhattan that offers Lamborghini test drives and polo parties as the entertainment is always going to score high on wow factor. The food menu skips between Italian and Japanese, but that is almost secondary to the stunning Marina views that give you an insight into how it feels to live the superyacht lifestyle.
Open daily 6pm-midnight. Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.cipriani.com (02 657 5400).
De La Costa
Happiness is a place like Saadiyat Beach Club’s lounge. Close enough to the water’s edge for you to actually be able to hear the waves trickle onto the sand, De La Costa conjures all the pictures of chic beach bars you have ever dreamed about. As well as offering some good food, this place becomes the beach club’s most vibrant venue. Grab a seat early and see what all the fuss is about.
Open Sat-Thu 5pm-2am, Fri 11am-2am. Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island, www.saadiyatbeachclub.ae (02 656 3500).
Like its sister outlet in Mallorca, there is both a warmth and a passion about this Yas Marina spot. Up on the roof you’ll get uninterrupted views across the water towards the Yas Viceroy and be able to enjoy sharing food such as tapas or limited Tex-Mex dishes, washed down with some chilled drinks.
Open Sun-Thu 5pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 1pm-midnight. Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.diablitofoodandmusic.ae (02 565 1175).
Hickory’s Sports Bar
Take that misconception you have about golf clubhouse bars being stuffy and formal and knock it as far down the fairway as you can. Hickory’s is easy going and often used as a post-round watering hole. We enjoy the course views and gentle breeze as you look out across the waters from behind the white picket fences underneath the canopies.
Open daily 6.30am-10.30pm. Yas Links, Yas Island, www.yaslinks.com (02 810 7710).
With the various ladies’ nights, tapas offers and multiple mixed drink deals around it is easy to forget the outside terrace at Imago. That, however, would be a mistake. The spacious exterior at Le Royal Méridien looks up at the Abu Dhabi skyline and is a prime location in a busy part of the city. Grab a table and make an evening of it.
Open daily 5pm-2am. Le Royal Méridien, Al Markaziya, www.imagouae.com (02 674 1094).
Iris Yas Island
Iris does things just about perfectly. It has all the bells and whistles you could want from Yas Marina and the chameleon-like views of Yas Viceroy to enjoy. Then there are the promotions, international entertainment and good food on top. What’s more, it has the right blend of cool and welcoming on any given day.
Open daily 6pm-3am. Iris, Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.irisabudhabi.com (055 160 5636).
This scaled-back al fresco spot is from the same team behind trendy Dubai joint The Scene by Simon Rimmer. All clean whites accented by pops of colour, it is a low-fi terrace with good water views. We like the Ghantoot Marina area and, as an alternative to the clubbier Blue Marlin, it is an excellent excuse to get out of town. Throughout the week, sunset sessions offer good-value meal and drink deals while weekends have a Balearic-tinged brunch.
Open daily 8am-1am. Ghantoot Marina, Ghantoot, www.lacalabeach.com (050 151 8407).
Great views and sunset sessions are not limited to beachside bars. Trek up to the roof of the Crowne Plaza in Al Markaziya and discover a pool bar with a hip outlook. Rattan chairs, low tables and the calming presence of the hotel pool make it a good spot for midweek socialising. And look out for the frequent ladies’ night offers.
Open Sun-Wed 7pm-3am, Thur-Sat 5pm-3am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziya, www.facebook.com/levelloungeauh (02 616 6166).
Some terraces are vast, some are on rooftops, some are on beaches and some just have great vistas that demand you head for the outdoor tables. The latter is just how it goes at this Ritz-Carlton spot. Tucked away in a little olive grove, Li Jiang affords unbeatable views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the ideal ambiance for post-work chilling.
Open daily 4pm-1am. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta’a, www.ritzcarlton.com (818 8282).
While labelling this a poolside restaurant is entirely accurate, it is in danger of underselling the charm. A large menu of pizzas, salads, grills and wok dishes is far beyond the usual fodder in such a place. Looking out across the water and enjoying the fine Jumeirah service with a casual approach makes for an easy-going lunch or dinner but Nahaam comes into its own at sundown.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche, www.jumeirah.com (02 811 5666).
We had to reset our wow-factor scale after the first visit to this private island resort off the Abu Dhabi coast. Words alone can’t do it justice, but believe us when we say it has to go straight to the top of your must-visit list. Sunset drinks just aren’t the same again after you have sat here on one of the swankiest locations anywhere in the world.
Open daily 5pm-midnight. Dusk, Zaya Nurai Island, Near Saadiyat Island, www.zayanuraiisland.com (02 506 6212).
You will have heard about the restaurant accompanying this stylish lounge. Inside is dedicated to the food of Spanish chef Sergi Arola and even a jazz radio station. Dress up in your party finest to hang outdoors with a chic crowd and take in the stunning panoramic views of Khor Al Maqta’a.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-12.30am, Thu-Sat 6pm-3am. Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Khor Al Maqta, www.pncbysergiarola.com (02 509 8888).
Even the oldest Time Out-ers can’t remember a time when we were not waxing lyrical about this brilliant rooftop nightspot. Things don’t start getting really interesting until the sun is setting, but after the lights come up and the DJs do their thing it is always among the busiest bars in the city. Watch out for a packed schedule and turn up any time confident of a great night out.
Open daily 8pm-3am. Aloft Abu Dhabi, Al Safraat, www.relaxat12abudhabi.com (02 654 5138).
The Souk Qaryat Al Beri views rarely look better than from this Japanese lounge’s terrace, with the luxury yachts and the buildings beyond making for pleasant focal points. Every day of the week there are sundown happy hours around sunset, meaning you have one of the city’s finest views at discount prices. Stick around for chic Japanese food and DJ nights later on.
Open daily noon-3am. Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain, www.sho-cho.com (02 558 1117).
The only bad thing about this swanky rooftop lounge is you can’t see the Yas Viceroy Hotel from up here – that’s because you’re in it. However, we’re pleased to report that Skylite has its very own set of lovely al fresco vistas. The multi-coloured bird’s nest hosts ladies’ nights, a daily sunset happy hour until 8pm and regular weekend parties. It’s a seriously hot spot once the sun has drifted off to sleep for the night.
Open Sat-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri 4pm-1am. Yas Viceroy Hotel, Yas Island, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com (02 656 0600).
How could we not include this incredible waterside venue on this list? The name itself, after all, means sunset in Thai, so Sontaya prides itself on being the perfect place for this time of day. Designed as a series of pavilions and terraces, it’s a romantic spot for outdoor supping and the food is rather good, too.
Open Sun-Thu 6.30pm-midnight, Fri-Sat noon-4pm and 6.30pm-11pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island, www.sontayaabudhabi.com (02 498 8888).
Indoors, “the longest bar in Abu Dhabi” attracts a lot of notice, but spill outside onto the terrace to see circular bars and casual seating areas. The European gastropub food is pretty good and a ladies’ night on Thursdays regularly gets busy.
Open daily 3pm-1am. Stills, Crowne Plaza Yas Island, Yas Island, www.facebook.com/stillsbar (02 656 3061).
As Tamba is an Indian restaurant in a mall you might think we’re a bit nuts to suggest it – but perhaps you don’t realise how special it is. Flipping the format on its head, Tamba is modern, stylish and has a distinctly clubbish vibe. Get away from the interiors and sample the nightlife ambience for one of the weekly Tamba Sundowner Parties every Friday from 4pm to 7pm. The terrace area has lovely views of the bustling city beyond.
Open Sun-Thu, noon-1am; Fri-Sat, noon-2am. The Hub, The Mall, World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, www.tambarestaurant.com (02 672 8888).
The Pool Deck
Look, we know a hotel pool bar is not the height of sophistication and elegance. There is something special, however, about Anantara’s Eastern Mangroves’ deck. Creative mixed drinks and luxurious seating are there as standard, but it is the views out beyond the gorgeous pool and into the mangroves that make it stand out as a good place for a spot of tourist-wowing.
Open daily 12.30pm-11pm. Eastern Mangroves Hotel by Anantara, Salam Street, www.anantara.com (02 656 1000).
Even if you never intend to swing a golf club in your life, a stop-off at The Retreat at The Westin is good for the soul. All that golf course greenery resembles a vast park and the palm tree and bunker views are perfect for an early evening in casual yet elegant surroundings. A well-stocked cellar and a fine collection of teas and coffees are only topped by the comfy chairs and wonderful breeze.
Open daily noon-1am. The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort, Sas Al Nakhl, www.theretreatabudhabi.com (02 616 9999).
The joy of the al fresco sundowner comes from casual spontaneity and a relaxed ambience with friends. Spend a day on the Yas Beach sands and, as the sun starts to slump behind the horizon, drift over, perhaps in sandles and baggy shorts, towards this tropical-themed lounge by the beach.
Open daily 10am-7pm. Yas Beach, Yas Island, www.yasbeach.ae (056 242 0435).
Even the inside feels like outside at this Polynesian-themed lounge. With the floral shirts, fruity mixed drinks, energetic Latin American band and island-life atmosphere, it buzzes with holiday vibes. And then you step out onto the large outdoor terrace – the ideal spot for taking in the setting sun and basking in the cool evening air.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area, www.tradervicsabudhabi.com (02 304 8086).
We can only assume the name comes from the turquoise ocean views facing The St. Regis Saadiyat Island location. We’ve remarked on the food in the past, and the numerous meal deals throughout the week (mussels nights, the oyster festival, lobster fest – that kind of thing), but the terrace is a fine place for mixed drinks and snacks as well. The rattan furniture and low lighting give for a casual beach shack vibe that drifts from serene to upbeat as a night under the stars progresses.
Open daily noon-4pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Island, www.turquoizabudhabi.com (02 498 8888).
Up & Below
You don’t have to have beach or Marina views to qualify for sundowner excellence. Up & Below is on the roof of the Courtyard Marriott by the World Trade Centre and offers a different perspective on our wonderful city. With casual lounge seating, crisp design and, of course, some neon lighting for that modern look and feel, it is an inner-city oasis. At night, when the surrounding high-rise buildings switch on their lights, you really feel you’re in a hidden metropolis meet-up point.
Open daily 10am-2am. Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, www.diningatcourtyardmarriott.com (02 698 2222).