Wish you could go back to the 1920s for a night? If you’re in Dubai, you can.
A new lounge called Noir opened its doors at Kempinski Hotel in Mall of the Emirates earlier this month. It’s modelled after American speakeasies of a bygone era, though not quite as illicit.
Pedro Rafael, half-Spanish, half-Portugese and brought up in London, is the manager. He described Noir as an ‘elegant’ place to be. Thanks to mixologists hired from New York City, it prides itself on bespoke beverages from all around the world, as well as their ‘historical citations’.
“Classics from days gone by, brought to the modern world with a twist,” he said.
The lounge and terrace can fit up to 250 people. In terms of the interior, it calls upon old NYC.
“It’s quite unique, quite decadent; it’s very, very sensual. It’s something like Dubai has never seen before,” said Rafael.
“We have a selection of artwork that was commissioned all over the world for us — a series of paintings and photographs.”
There are eight high chairs with “old school leather” at the counter, as well as several cushioned seating areas inside, made up of red and blue velvet.
Two resident DJs, DJs Lesha and Katerina, play a mix of house and lounge music, with Latin American beats thrown in.
“It’s very melodical to the ear, but at the same time gives you that little urge to dance,” said Rafael. There’s an area for that, if you feel so inclined.
Out on the terrace, the music is a bit lower. Rafael admits that the view of the Dubai skyline isn’t the best in the city, but they seem to have compensated for it: there’s a fireplace and a cinema projection on one wall, playing a black-and-white montage of film noir clips, interspersed with fashion footage.
Noir has a partnership with the London style brand All Saints, which dresses its staff. That being said, they encourage their servers to express their personalities in how they accessorise.
“It’s trendy street chic wear,” Rafael said. “It’s not the kind of [place] where everyone is clean-shaved.”
For him, the perfect Noir customer would be an Arab or expat between the ages of 23 and 45, who just wants to enjoy good food, beverages and music, while still being able to carry out a conversation with friends. The food menu fuses South American and Asian cuisine; it boasts 27 dishes, and follows a tapas style sharing concept. For dessert, you can indulge in some nachos with dulce de leche. The chefs are from Chile, Peru and Japan.
Noir is open seven evenings a week. Though it welcomes walk-ins, Rafael encourages prior reservations. “We have an average of 60 per cent of the place booked previously,” he said.
And if you’re looking for something a bit more closed off, you can ask for the Blue Room. “It’s a VIP room, seats 12 people. It comes with two private doors, AV system with a flat screen, bespoke crystalware. It’s the type of room that people in Dubai love because of its privacy,” said Rafael.
“I’ve worked all over the world, and I can say, not because I work there, but it’s the most luxurious bar that I’ve ever opened in my life, and I’ve worked in London for almost 15 years. I’ve worked all over the world. It’s quite a unique place.”
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