The first Nikki Beach made its debut in Miami in 1998 and quickly became a celebrity favourite. Jack Penrod launched the luxury beach club concept in memory of his young daughter, Nicole, who died in a car accident, and the company premise is centred around a “celebration of life”.
The brand has since expanded into 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 six-year anniversary at the end of March. To mark the occasion, The National paid a visit.
Nikki Beach is set on The Pearl Jumeirah, a man-made island off the coast of Dubai’s Jumeirah 1, near Port Rashid. It takes about 35 minutes to drive there from my house in Jumeirah Village Triangle and is not a part of the city I visit often, which adds to the sense that I am getting away from it all, even if it is only for a one-night staycation.
The hotel is easy to find, although those driving should note that the beach club and hotel are two different things. My car is promptly whisked away and I am welcomed by a doorman who insists on taking my bag, even though it is only a small weekender.
Check-in is smooth and swift, and I am duly escorted up to my Ocean Luux Suite. A multi-tiered assembly of cakes and macaroons greets me, along with a selection of fruit and a box of chocolates. The hotel’s famed weekend brunch is already under way, meaning the sounds of house music reverberate through the property and up to my room.
There is an inherent dichotomy to a stay at Nikki Beach. A lively party atmosphere lies at the heart of the properties, but in the evenings and mornings, before and after the music starts, the overall ambience is incredibly calming.
The setting of the property on the tip of the Pearl Jumeirah means it looks out over open sea, a rarity in Dubai. The waves rolling in act as the soundtrack to my stay, particularly as I go to bed with the doors to my balcony open and am lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean.
The clean, unobtrusive lines of the architecture and a colour palette that is predominantly white, interspersed with pops of turquoise that perfectly echo the colour of this stretch of the Arabian Gulf, also contribute to an overall sense of relaxation.
The hotel’s location makes it feel far removed from the rest of the city. If you are looking for a short, relaxing getaway, there is no real need to venture out of the resort.
You can while away the hours in one of the beachfront cabanas, hang out poolside or pop to the spa for a treatment. At the same time, the hotel’s location offers opportunities to explore Jumeirah and is only seven kilometres from Downtown Dubai and The Dubai Mall. It is also a good access point for “old Dubai”, with Deira and Bur Dubai both a short drive away.
The safety measures
When I visit, masks are worn diligently by staff and fellow guests. With only 132 rooms and suites, this isn’t the kind of place that will ever feel overly busy. Tables are well spaced out in the resort’s restaurants, as are sun beds on the beach, so social distancing is a given in public spaces.
The Ocean Luux 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 stocked kitchen, a wooden dining table that seats at least six, and comfortable sofas. A muted palette of grey and white, with a few pops of turquoise, makes sure that it is the view that steals the show.
There is a guest bathroom as well as the main bathroom, which features double sinks, a standalone bathtub and a humongous rain shower.
The bedroom is also encircled by windows and the bed looks out towards the sea. I spend a significant amount of time planted on the day bed on my private balcony, which looks out over the pool, beach and sea. It’s a particularly pleasant view in the evening, when lights are dotted around the pool and you can hear the sound of the waves lapping on the beach.
Service is unobtrusive and consistently good across the board. The waiter serving dinner in Cafe Nikki is particularly charming and patient as I ask for the portable heaters to be moved around, since we are dining outdoors and it gets unexpectedly chilly.
The property has one main pool, which is the site of a stand-up paddleboard yoga session on the morning of my stay. The beach is the property’s main attraction and is dotted with sunbeds and cabanas, with cold water supplied at regular intervals. Despite its party-first atmosphere, hotel guests include couples and families with young children.
Nikki Spa features a hammam, 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, facial treatments, scrubs and hammam sessions, but I opt for the On the Rocks treatment, a therapeutic massage that combines volcanic rocks with Clarins Relax Treatment Oil.
There are only two outlets currently open at the resort. Soul Lounge is the hotel’s lobby lounge, but has a chilled outdoor area overlooking the pool and beach.
It serves drinks, light bites, nibbles and shisha. A raw bar offers sushi, sashimi, ceviches and rolls, with prices starting from Dh40 for sashimi and nigiri. Light bites include beef tacos, Mediterranean dips, salads and sliders, with prices averaging Dh35 to Dh40 per dish.
Cafe Nikki is the resort’s main, all-day dining restaurant and is a bistro serving a selection of international dishes, including biryani for Dh95, BBQ bites for Dh65 and miso and honey glazed chicken skewers for Dh85.
Highs and lows
The room is a definite high. Sea views from every vantage point, including the bed when I wake up in the morning, complemented by the sound of the waves, makes for an extremely relaxing experience.
The escalope at Cafe Nikki is not the best I’ve ever eaten, but the stellar service compensates for the slightly disappointing meal.
The insider tip
Ask for a room at the far end of the property, which looks directly out over the beach.
This is the perfect option for those looking for a stay that combines a more lively beach club vibe with a healthy dose of relaxation. It feels far removed from the rest of Dubai, so is ideal for a staycation.
The bottom line
Prices start at Dh900 or a standard room. Prices for a sea-facing Luux Suite start at Dh6,000 per night. Check-in is at 3pm and check-out is at noon.
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, Pearl Jumeira, www.nikkibeach.com
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel before Ramadan, during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during this time, services may change in the future.