If there was one thing I thought was missing from the Louvre Abu Dhabi, it was a good bar. The one thing every decent museum should have is a good bar, and some of the best bars around the world are inside museums and galleries. It was revealed in March that the Louvre Abu Dhabi would be opening its own bar called ‘Art lounge’, and since I wasn’t able to attend the launch, I went along before the summer with a friend to finally check it out.
Art Lounge is located beyond the galleries, with an entrance opposite the museum café door. Take the lift or go up the stairs to the first floor, and although it looks a bit like an unlikely industrial lift shaft, go through the double doors to the roof top and that’s where you’ll find the bar.
First and foremost let’s cover the most important questions: despite not being attached to a hotel, Art Lounge IS a proper bar. It serves the same wide selection of adult beverages (wines, beers, spirits and cocktails etc) that you can find inside any hotel or licensed venue. Cheers to that!
I visited on a Friday early evening, just before Ramadan in early May, so it was a bit warm to sit outside, though not unbearable at that stage.
We found the place absolutely deserted, there was not another soul to be seen (aside from the bar staff) which was quite surprising. Though it suited us for a drink and a catch up.
Although the bar is described as ‘roof-top’, it is on a roof, but it does still sit underneath the famous Louvre dome, just in case anyone had any ideas of a birds-eye view from the top! And views from the bar look out over the Abu Dhabi skyline, though where you sit and which way you choose to face will impact your view, as some outlooks are decidedly more pleasing than others. To face away from the city looking out to sea for example means there is a big power station in your eye line, not quite so inspiring, though to be fair it’s not quite as offensive as it sounds.
There is a bar menu available also, just with light bites and snacks and I’ll admit we were expecting the worst, but were very pleasantly surprised at the good quality of the food served. The shrimp (dynamite shrimp of a sort, though I forget what they named it) and the vegetable gyoza were excellently cooked and absolutely delicious. Doubtless, it made the inevitable museum food price tag worth paying.
But even as night fell and the evening cooled the place didn’t get any busier. I think one other couple were the only patrons while we were there and we stayed from sundown until 10pm (the museum galleries close at 10pm but the bar stays open until 11pm).
The quiet atmosphere certainly didn’t have an impact on our evening out, but if you’re looking for something with a bit of atmosphere you might be disappointed. I’d still recommend paying Art Lounge a visit, the only crying shame is that unlike many other international museum bars, you can only enter the bar with a museum ticket – there is no separate entrance to allow the public to enjoy the bar alone.
Though staying longer than you might also provides a good opportunity to see the Louvre in another light at night-time, when the domed roof is lit up and reflections from windows and lights shimmer on the water.
In short, it makes for a very civilised catch up with friends – a wander round the galleries in the afternoon followed by a well-earned tipple on the roof. It’s a lovely venue despite its failings, and it could be brilliant if only it was open to include non-ticket holders.
Art Lounge is open from 12pm to 11pm (to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). The museum has been closed for the summer and reopens this weekend, on Sat Sept 22nd. Find out more on the Louvre Abu Dhabi website.