Dubai redefines the meaning of brunch, and you have to attend one to truly understand how. Forget your standard Eggs Benny and cheeky Bloody Mary; Dubai’s famous brunches take the mid-morning meal to a new level, with glammed-up expats flocking to the city’s five-star hotels every Friday to participate in the biggest social event of the week. At its best, brunch in Dubai is a lavish affair requiring your best gladrags, 15 close companions and some serious stamina. At its worst… well, it’s still pretty good.
They’re also on the pricey side, with some of Dubai’s best brunches costing over 500 Dizhas. Nobody wants to see 100 quid go to waste, so here’s a guide to making the most of brunch in Dubai; from preparation to execution. Whether it’s your first Dubai brunch or simply your latest, it’s good to have a survival guide on hand.
I asked the lovely members of my expat Facebook group, Dubai Social Ladies, who are all in-the-know Dubai brunch experts, how to have the most amazing brunch experience in Dubai.
Our top tips for having the best brunch ever
Booking brunch and getting ready
- Unless it’s winter, book a table inside. Save your makeup from that searing heat.
- Be ready at least 40 minutes before brunch commences. Trying to get a taxi at 12.30pm on a Friday is the most challenging Dubai Princess Problem, and then you’ll have to battle SZR traffic. Plus, nobody wants to pay double-time for an emergency Uber.
- Try to get up early and eat a light breakfast, so you’re not starving when you arrive. Ramming sushi into your mouth during the hello air-kisses isn’t the best brunch etiquette, dahh-ling.
- Tight dresses might look amazing when you’ve skipped breakfast, but if it’s a food-focused brunch, wear something loose fitting that will hide your 4pm food baby. Save your body-cons for Candypants and Double Decker – you won’t be eating much there.
- Choose shoes you can walk in if it’s a buffet brunch. The horror of falling flat on your face with a plate of oysters in your hand doesn’t bear thinking about.
- Body tape. Bring it over from your home countries girls, because it’s a nightmare to find in Dubai. I’ve been to brunches where one girl had managed to track some down, and we all took it in turns to race to the loos and tape ourselves in to our brunch dresses. Classy.
- Do not bypass the food! It’s not big and it’s not clever. Plus, you’ll regret ignoring an all you can eat buffet in favour of the booze at 6pm when your taxi driver can’t find a takeaway to calm your rumbling, drunken stomach.
- Don’t fill up on bread, rice or any cheap old carb you can buy for a few dirhams in Carrefour. Maximise your return on investment by loading up on the more pricey buffet items. Our expert advice is to head straight for the seafood station and pile your plate high with lobster. Because like, when else could you afford it?
- Stay away from the shot station. Trust us on this one.
- But do order two drinks at once, if the venue allows it. Hey, got to get your money’s worth…
- While we’re on the topic of alcohol, don’t mix your drinks. As tempting as it is when there’s everything from rum-filled, larger than life watermelons to Jager cocktails on offer, you should at least choose your poison, ahem, spirit, of choice and stick to it.
- And at least try to drink some water between drinks.
- Be nice to the waiting staff. You’ll need them on your side when there’s 15 minutes to go and the entire restaurant wants to order three rounds at once.
Post brunch survival
- When it’s time to pay and a few people have Entertainer, don’t be stingy. Split the overall saving between the whole table – the favour will be returned one day.
- Have a back-up plan. There’s nothing worse than stumbling into the daylight at 4pm, steaming drunk with no place to go. There are plenty of watering holes offering brunch after-parties full of staggering expats who have well and truly embraced brunch. Seek and ye shall find.