The first Nikki Beach debuted in Miami in 1998 and quickly became a celebrity favorite. Jack Penrod pioneered the luxury beach club concept in memory of his young daughter, Nicole, who died in a car crash, and the company’s premise centers on a “celebration of life”.
The brand has since expanded to hotels and resorts around the world and continues to offer a distinct offering that combines music, dining, entertainment and fashion. It opened its Dubai resort in 2016 and celebrated its sixth anniversary at the end of March. To mark the occasion, The National pay a visit.
Nikki Beach is located on The Pearl Jumeirah, a man-made island off Jumeirah 1 in Dubai, near Port Rashid. It takes about 35 minutes to drive there from my house in the triangle of Jumeirah village and is not part of the city I visit often, which adds to the feeling that I am getting away from it all, even if it is not is only for one-night stay.
The hotel is easy to find, although those driving should note that the beach club and the hotel are two different things. My car is quickly taken away and I am greeted by a doorman who insists on taking my bag, even though it is only a short weekend.
Check-in was smooth and quick, and I was duly escorted to my Ocean Lux suite. A tiered assemblage of cakes and macaroons greets me, accompanied by a selection of fruit and a box of chocolates. The hotel’s famous weekend brunch is already underway, which means the sounds of house music reverberate throughout the property and all the way to my room.
There is an inherent dichotomy to a stay at Nikki Beach. A lively party atmosphere reigns at the heart of the properties, but in the evenings and mornings, before and after the music starts, the overall vibe is incredibly soothing.
The property’s setting on the tip of the Pearl Jumeirah overlooks the open sea, a rarity in Dubai. The rolling waves serve as a soundtrack to my stay, especially as I go to bed with my balcony doors open and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
The clean, understated lines of the architecture and a predominantly white color scheme, interspersed with pops of turquoise that perfectly echo the color of this part of the Arabian Gulf, also contribute to an overall sense of relaxation.
The hotel’s location makes it feel far from the rest of the city. If you’re looking for a short, relaxing getaway, there’s really no need to venture out of the resort.
You can spend hours in one of the beachside cabanas, relax by the pool or head to the spa for a treatment. At the same time, the hotel’s location offers the opportunity to explore Jumeirah and is only seven kilometers from Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Mall. It’s also a good access point to ‘old Dubai’, with Deira and Bur Dubai a short drive away.
During my visit, masks are worn diligently by staff and other customers. With just 117 rooms and 15 private pool villas, it’s not the kind of place that will ever feel too busy. Tables are well spaced out at the resort’s restaurants, as are lounge chairs on the beach, so social distancing is a given in public spaces.
The Ocean Lux Suite is pretty much what my dream apartment would look like. A large living room is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, offering stunning views of the beach below and the sea beyond.
There is a fully equipped kitchen, a wooden dining table that seats at least six people and comfortable sofas. An understated palette of gray and white, with a few pops of turquoise, ensures that it’s the view that steals the show.
There is a guest bathroom as well as the master bathroom, which features dual sinks, a stand-alone tub, and an enormous rain shower.
The bedroom is also surrounded by windows and the bed overlooks the sea. I spend a lot of time planted on the daybed from my private balcony, which overlooks the pool, beach and sea. It’s a particularly nice view in the evening, when the lights are dotted around the pool and you can hear the sound of the waves lapping on the beach.
The service is unobtrusive and always good in all areas. The server serving dinner at Café Nikki is particularly charming and patient as I request that the portable heaters be moved as we are dining outside and it is unexpectedly cold.
The property has a main pool, which was the site of a stand-up paddleboard yoga session the morning of my stay. The beach is the property’s main attraction and is dotted with loungers and cabanas, with cold water supplied at regular intervals. Despite its party atmosphere, hotel guests include couples and families with young children.
The Nikki Spa includes a steam room, sauna, steam room, ice fountain, mixed vitality pool, and indoor and outdoor relaxation lounges. Water features and sculptural trees line the path to the spa, which maintains the laid-back, minimalist aesthetic of the rest of the property.
The spa menu is extensive, with massages, facials, scrubs and hammam sessions, but I opt for the On the Rocks treatment, a therapeutic massage that combines volcanic rocks with Clarins treatment oil Take it easy.
There are only two outlets currently open in the station. Soul Lounge is the hotel’s lobby lounge, but has a chilled outdoor space overlooking the pool and beach.
It serves drinks, light snacks, nibbles and shisha. A raw bar offers sushi, sashimi, ceviche and rolls, with prices starting at Dh40 for sashimi and nigiri. Light bites include beef tacos, Mediterranean dips, salads and sliders, with prices averaging Dh35-40 per dish.
Cafe Nikki is the resort’s main all-day dining restaurant. This is a bistro serving a selection of international dishes, including biryani for Dh95, barbecue bites for Dh65 and chicken skewers with miso and honey for Dh85.
Highs and lows
The bedroom is an undeniable top. The sea view from every vantage point including the bed when I wake up in the morning, complemented by the sound of the waves, makes this an extremely relaxing experience.
The schnitzel at Cafe Nikki isn’t the best I’ve had, but the stellar service makes up for the slightly disappointing meal.
The insider tip
Ask for a room at the far end of the property, which directly overlooks the beach.
It’s the perfect option for those looking for a stay that combines a livelier beach club vibe with a healthy dose of relaxation. It feels very remote from the rest of Dubai, so it’s ideal for a stay.
The bottom line
Prices start at Dh900 or a standard room. Prices for a Lux Suite facing the sea start at 6,000 Dh per night. Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at noon.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, Pearl Jumeira, www.nikkibeach.com
This review was conducted at the hotel’s invitation prior to Ramadan, during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during this period, services may change in the future.
Updated: April 08, 2022, 6:02 p.m.