A visit to Wavehouse to Dubai's Atlantis The Palm is like taking a trip down memory lane.
From chomping down on comfort foods like fish-finger sandwiches and deep-fried Babybels, playing classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, and enjoying the beach-bar vibes out on the terrace, this new entertainment complex will conjure nostalgia among its clientele.
At the same time, Wavehouse, which is based at the hotel's The Avenues, will usher in a whole new era of recreation to Dubai when it opens on February 1.
Bold words, you might think, but where else can you currently go to enjoy dinner, drinks, bowling, gaming and surfing all in one spot?
Flick through our photo gallery above to see what it all looks like.
We go just 12 days before opening and start with a spot of dinner, sitting indoors at a table by the large adults-only bar area.
The decor here is industrial; wood meets metal meets exposed red-brick walls, while poppy, bright colours punctuate the grey and beige accents.
Hundreds of light bulbs dangle down from the ceiling, and private dining booths sit in what appear to be wooden wheels on the lower and upper levels of the restaurant, overlooking the four-lane tenpin bowling alley (more on that later).
Outside, on the family terrace, it's more of a rustic beach bar, where straw umbrellas will shade you on sunny afternoons as you peer over the balcony and watch surfers, body- and knee-boarders test their skills on the Surf's Up Wave Rider.
Wooden tables sit next to comfy couches, offering a bunch of different seating options. It's a bit too windy for outdoor seating and taking turns on the Wave Rider, however.
Back inside, we peruse the menu. It's almost difficult to describe, as the international options span many cuisines. Again, it's quite nostalgic – there are deep-fried Babybels on there, next to a fish-finger sandwich, prawn cocktail tower and a classic spaghetti bolognese – but there are also modern and fusion additions, such as spelt tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern pizza, and a hearty tuna and avocado on toast.
There are also seafood and grill and pork sections, next to pizza, pasta, risotto and sandwich options. There's a kids' bites menu, too, featuring pizza, fish and chips, nuggets, pasta – the usual child-pleasers. Then, for dessert, you can build your own soft-serve ice cream, or tuck in to hearty comfort dishes like white chocolate chip cookie dough, sticky toffee pudding and fully loaded waffles.
We try a variety of things – a charred corn salad with pomegranate, sun-dried tomatoes and smoked almonds, the aforementioned fish-finger sarnie and avo on toast, a salmon fillet with a side of grilled Mediterranean vegetables, the classic Wavehouse burger that comes with a giant dill pickle on the side and a straight-up juicy steak. Everything is delicious and generously portioned – no complaints there.
Once we've had a few minutes to digest, the four of us hit the ten-pin bowling alley, which is in a licensed area where 3D mapping projections lend a funky, modern vibe. We slip on the stylish bowling shoes provided, completing the ensemble with a pair of branded Wavehouse no-slip socks (you get these for an extra Dh15), and test out our rusty bowling skills for the next 45 minutes.
Families with kids will be pleased to know you can put up a gate to block the gutters, so you can all play a round together.
Levels Arcade Games and Soft Play
After we either fail miserably or triumph over our team mates during our bowling session (our skills were very hit and miss), we move on to Levels, which is split into two sections.
The soft play area is closed for maintenance on our visit, but looks like it'll be a lot of fun once it's open. It's been designed for children and teens (over one metre tall) and split over five floors, featuring padded mazes, slides and climbing frames.
But it's the arcade games we're interested in, as this area is open to all ages. It spans two floors and features more than 50 games, including the world's largest Pac-Man and the world's first three-axis rotation simulator 'Stereo VR', which uses virtual reality technology. There's also an Xbox playing zone, featuring Fortnite, and a multi-function party room.
You might think you're too old for these kinds of things. Trust us, you're not. It's loads of fun. We get a card loaded with credit and then play our way around the games, winning tickets as we go, which we later exchange for a prize (a bright orange Trash Pack toy that we give to a colleague who had to miss out). It may seem like an unnecessary amount of paper tickets being used (between us we collected 536), but when we ask, we're assured the hotel gets these recycled by a "special provider who does this across the resort on all paper".
Here, we have by far the most fun with the virtual reality experiences. There are a number of games you can choose to play across two gaming stations. We all test out the "giant swing" on the Stereo VR – and let's just say we're glad we had time to digest our food.
Prices and packages
A word of warning: if you're there for the evening and want to get involved with everything, costs could rack up pretty quickly. Individually, however, everything is pretty affordable.
Bowling, for instance, costs Dh60 per person per game (walk-ins only) or Dh360 for a maximum of six people for an hour. Gaming packages start from Dh200 and include one free go on the Stereo VR. Unlimited use of the Surf's Up Wave Rider is Dh100 per person between 10am and 6pm, and Dh100 per hour after 6pm (or free for Aquaventure Water Park guests). For women on ladies' night, however, you'll get free use of Levels, a free go on the Wave Rider and discounted bowling (50 per cent off). The planned Friday brunch also includes a card for kids to play for free at Levels.
As for the food, prices range from Dh40 for a starter, about Dh55 for a main and Dh45 for dessert. The most expensive item on the menu is the Australian lamb chops, which will set you back Dh170.
There are a few other things to note. For example, there will be a live band and DJs playing at the bar three nights a week.
Every Tuesday ladies' night will run from 7pm to 1am, which, as we mentioned, includes free access to Levels, discounted bowling, a ride on the Surf's Up Wave Rider and three free drinks.
There's a daily happy hour from 5pm to 7pm and every Friday the family friendly 'Brady Brunch' will take place from 1pm to 4pm, which will include food, drinks, live music, gaming and bowling.
Brunch is free for children aged 10 and under; Dh199 for teens aged 11 to 20 with Dh100 games credit; Dh299 with soft drinks; Dh399 with house beverages.