Tried and tested: W Doha
December 13th, 2009
BACKGROUND: W Doha Hotel & Residences opened in the Qatari capital in March 2009 marking the design-led brand’s foray into the Middle East market. Founded in 1998 in New York City and known as one of the hippest hotel brands in the world, W Hotels is part of the Starwood group.
THE ARRIVAL: As you enter the arrivals lounge at Qatar’s international airport there is a W Doha representative waiting to escort you to your chauffeur-driven car — known in ‘W’ language as ‘Wheels’ — which takes you on the 25-minute journey to the hotel, located in the West Bay area of Doha’s city centre. As soon as you enter what W calls “the world of ‘Wow’” you immediately recognise you are in a W property. The ‘W Living Room’ (lobby) is sleek and sophisticated with black-and-white flooring, black leather sofas, water features, ceiling-suspended seating, in addition to hand-blown blue glass hanging lanterns.
THE ACCOMMODATION: We stayed in a W Suite, which really did have the ‘Wow’ factor. With so many gadgets and innovative features to discover, you feel like a kid in a sweet shop. There’s no shortage of seating in the spacious lounge with its suspended swinging chair, rounded cream leather sofa, contemporary brown leather chairs, separate dining table and chairs and a work station.
The king-sized bed in the bedroom was surrounded by a funky fringed blind with a mirror above surrounding the blown-glass ball cluster lighting. There was plenty of wardrobe space, but the adjoining bathroom I felt was ill-designed with the vanity unit and sink too small and pokey. A man designed this room as there was nowhere to plug in the hairdryer near a mirror! However, the Bliss spa amenities more than made up for the bathroom let down — with favourites including lemon and sage body butter.
THE F&B: We only tried one of the restaurants — all-day dining outlet Market, by Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten — where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The breakfast buffet was of a very high standard and complemented by a la carte hot dishes, while the lunch featured gourmet versions of simple dishes including burger and fries. A standout at this outlet was the staff — confident, knowledgeable and efficient, which makes a change for the Middle East.
THE SPA: One of W Doha’s key selling points, in addition to its quirky ‘W’ terminology and its creation of a laidback lifestyle brand, is the renowned New York spa brand Bliss Spa, which is popular with men and women alike.
Apart from the appealing fun and contemporary design of this facility and the high-quality treatments on offer — I had a perfect manicure/pedicure and a signature ‘triple oxygen’ facial that left my skin glowing for days — the factor that really attracts you to this spa on face value is its fantastic retail offering, with Bliss Spa’s full range of products and those of complementary brands on offer. Top sellers include the triple oxygen instant energy infusion mask and vanilla and bergamot body butter.
The W Doha also boasts a pool (the ‘Wet’), which was closed for refurbishment when we stayed and a gym (the ‘Sweat’).
PRICES: Prices start from QR 5800 ($1593) for a W Suite. All rates are subject to 17% service charge and are 10% commissionable for travel agents.
BOOKING IT: Phone +974 453 5353; fax: +974 453 5354; or visit www.starwoodhotels.com or www.whotels.com
Qatar is not exactly known as a hip and happening city and so W Doha has really injected some much-needed urban cool to a capital that is otherwise traditional and formal. It’s fun staying at W Doha, whether you’re swinging on suspended chairs in your suite watching the flat-screen TV, people watching in the The Lounge while checking your emails, sipping cocktails in the Crystal Lounge or getting pampered in the Bliss Spa, plus the property’s Whatever/Whenever service — W’s signature on-demand concierge offering — is available 24-hours a day. This hotel is suitable for business or leisure and is close to all of Qatar’s major attractions. Recommend this hotel for clients seeking a New York experience in the geographic heart of the Gulf.