A gentle breeze, a soft warmth, and the soothing smells of spices simmering in the background. I take a sip of my iced coffee, gaze out over the glass-like expanse of the Olympic-size swimming pool ahead of me. I lean further back into my bed-like sun-lounger, which has been artfully draped in soft blue and white stripy towels, and close my eyes to imprint this moment in my mind.
I am completely and utterly immersed in luxury. It’s the most wonderful moment.
I am in Qatar.
For just 3 nights the boyf and I enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing time in a land of luxury and decadence. We sampled three different hotels in Doha, the capital and principle city of Qatar. There we made the most of discovering what luxury hotels were really all about.
But let’s go back to the beginning…
I actually won this trip by taking part in a selfie competition at the World Travel Market. Qatar Airways are the lovely folks responsible for sending us to the Middle East.
So we flew out from Heathrow in mid-March for a short break in Doha. We had a Midday flight from Heathrow which, given the time difference, meant we landed in the late evening. We grabbed a taxi and took the 30 minute journey into the city to our first hotel.
Our initial impressions were rather positive. Doha airport was a clean and shiny and new. It’s a relatively lesser-visited destination so it took no time at all to get through customs, buy our tourist visa and get to the taxi rank. (Heads up though, they only accept credit/debit cards to buy your tourist visa).
As we drove through the darkness towards the city we were struck by the incredible skyline that is appearing. Unlike its more well known counterpart in the Middle East, Dubai, the architecture is less focused on building as many tall buildings as possible, and more an emphasis on interesting and unique architectural features.
Some of these skyscrapers were breathtaking. Interesting twists of steel, use of glass, mixtures of materials. The inner architecture geek was loving it. What’s more, at night they were lit up beautifully.
It was an encouraging way to be introduced to the city.
We arrived late at our first hotel, the Grand Hyatt Doha, where we received a friendly welcome and a super quick check in. Our room was only 1 floor up and we were immediately taken by the striking and luxurious feel of the decor in the foyer – think super-high ceilings, gold, mirrors and artwork.
The layout of our bathroom was probably my fave of the three hotels (see the vlog to find out why) and the bed was lovely and snuggly. We immediately hit the sack after a full on day of travelling.
Our first morning we made a beeline for the breakfast. It was everything we’d hoped for. There was a huge selection of food on offer, all buffet stylee. You could order eggs however you wanted, go for fruit, salads, cured meats, cooked breakfast and there was a massive selection of baked goodies. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast feast before checking out of the room and going for a bit of an explore of the hotel. There was a cute little beachfront area, ponds, gardens, pool and spa.
After enjoying a bit of sunshine we jumped in a taxi and headed over to our second hotel of the trip, the striking landmark that is The Torch. Located slightly inland from the coast it is surrounded by sporting facilities and is instantly recognisable from it’s tall imposing structure.
We had my favourite check-in welcome of the trip with the lovely reception staff. Just the little friendly conversations make all the difference to me when it comes to customer service.
We were shown to our room several floors up and were immediately excited by the room facilities. The Torch was totally in contrast to the other two hotels. It’s contemporary, hip and totally technology-led. We loved the fun features such as the changeable lights embedded in every wall, controlled by the in-room ipad. The welcome chocolate truffles were a nice touch, AND (something I’ve never come across on travels to date) the first round of drinks in the mini bar were complimentary! (OK, there’s no booze because you know… muslim country and all) but that’s a good round of soft drinks in what is otherwise a relatively pricey destination.
Oh, and the room had a Nespresso machine. Hoorah! We were able to enjoy a nice mid-afternoon coffee with our chocolate truffles before dinner.
At dinner time we were treated to a buffet-style dinner at the aptly named Flying Carpet restaurant at the Torch. You’ve got to check out the video for our reaction, we were SOOOOO excited by the flying carpets on the ceiling.
I think the best bit about The Torch was the service. Every single member of staff there was super helpful, friendly and even forthcoming with assistance and care. For instance, at dinner we found that quite a few of the buffet options were of the beef variety, and as Hindu’s this was rather problematic. However, one of the chef’s, a lovely gentleman from Nepal, came over to chat to us, realised our predicament and offered to make a fresh batch of kebabs for us without any beef.
Little thoughtful touches like that were so appreciated.
The following day we woke up super late. Like, 20 minutes before the end of breakfast late. Argh!!!! The bed at the Torch was the comfiest ever. We had slept so heavy and without an alarm. So we jumped into some clothes and dashed down to the restaurant for the very end of breakfast. We made a mad dash around the buffet to create a huge spread for breakfast. It was a fantastic range of cooked breakfast, pastries, fruits, smoothies, health shakes, coffee and salads. Thankfully the staff were lovely and let us take our time.
Then it was a mad dash back to the room to pack, shower and get ready for our chauffeur from the St Regis to take us to our third and final hotel.
We reclined back into the soft leather seats of our car, the driver handed us some complimentary bottles of water and we waxed lyrical about how beautiful this car was.
Our chauffeur announced our arrival with a “Welcome to the St Regis” as we pulled into the large driveway. There, outside the main entrance, we were welcomed by our butler, Iliona.
Oh my, this was a taste of the decadence to come.
Our butler escorted us to our room and as we walked in I caught my breath. The room was opulence in a nutshell. The highest of quality fabrics and furniture, tasteful decor, and a beautiful selection of welcome truffles and fruit. They offered to unpack our bags for us, although this wasn’t necessary for us as we were flying back the following day. But we were able to send Raj’s shirt and trousers off to be pressed before dinner, which was encouraging and complimentary.
After the in-room check-in (where the take a charge against our card for any potential hotel spending) we familiarised ourselves with the room, called in for a special pillow from the Pillow Menu, before making our way down to the pool.
Oh, the pool….just the most loveliest of pools.
We had intended only to spend an hour there before going for an explore around Doha. But it was just too darn idyllic to move.
There was a pool guy to welcome us to the pool who then accompanied us to our chosen sunbed, a huge double deal for the both of us to lounge on together. He then expertly covered said sunbed with towels including handy rolled up arm and head rests arrangements. It was most impressive.
So we spent the afternoon by this crystal clear Olympic-sized swimming pool, mooching in the gentle warmth of the Spring sunshine, and sampled some delicious if somewhat pricey (don’t ask) iced coffee and ice cream.
Oooh, it was soooo relaxing. I think I’d forgotten what pampering and relaxation felt like.
As the sun starting setting behind the hotel we headed back indoors to shower and get ready for dinner. We were feeling typically British and were gasping for a cup of tea. Having found there were no tea making facilities we called up our butler who was happy to bring us a pot of fresh tea along with a small tray of baklava for us to try.
I reclined back on my incredible sumptuous bed, sipped on my tea, nibbled on baklava, and marvelled at how privileged and lovely this felt. A moment not to be forgotten.
At 8 o’clock our butler came to escort us down to dinner at the Gordon Ramsay’s Opal restaurant. One of the 11 restaurants at the hotel it’s perched on one of the terraces with a lovely outdoor area. Being big foodies we had lots of fun trying a full three courses of delicious food (watch our video to see what we picked).
It was absolutely lovely and we were busying tweeting and instagramming away when the St Regis twitter team got in touch to let us know that the beach bar was open and waiting for us. Hoorah! So the restaurant manager escorted over to the beach where we lounged in the big squishy sofas, marvelled at the view of the city skyscrapers in the distance and enjoyed the ambient dance beats from the DJ. We tried some shisha, because, you know … Middle East. I don’t think it’s really our thing, but it was fun to try.
After that we were zonked, so we bid goodnight to all the lovely friendly staff and passed out on our super squishy luxurious bed.
The following day we meandered down to breakfast where we were faced with largest selection of breakfast options we have ever come across. It was immense.
We took a table outside on the terrace, and it was the most perfectly balmy morning with a gentle breeze. It was mid-March and the temperature was just right.
With the help of the wait staff we piled up our table with a huge selection of breakfast materials. It was epic. We spent a good hour or more idling through breakfast, ordering extra coffee, and making the very most of this wonderful moment.
Afterwards we took a last half hour or so at the beautiful pool before going through an in-room check-out with our butler and taking the limousine over to the airport.
So Qatar was a short and sweet luxury trip where we felt thoroughly spoilt. Doha completely surprised us and we found there is a whole city of interesting culture and activities waiting to be explored. I have no doubt we will be back there again the future to discover more.