By Ashlee Starratt
Images courtesy of the W Doha Hotel & Residences
Sometimes, all we want in life is a posh place to flop. To put our feet up, get pampered, lounge by the pool, and sip that drink at leisure. Throw in heaps of lush cuisine and 400-thread count sheets waiting for you when you’re ready to call it a night – and you must be at the W Doha. The city’s ultimate address for five-star chic and whimsy, the hotel stakes its name on the two W’s – Whatever, Whenever. Not just a catchphrase, but words to live by as we’ll soon discover.
In a city with no shortage of options to escape the daily grind with a big city break or weekend staycation, there’s a few reasons why the W delivers. Consistently. So, when we heard they were having a special staycation offer – we couldn’t think of a better place to book into ahead of Eid.
With room rates starting from QR 599 per night, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfast in their inimitable Market by Jean-Georges, and a 20% discount on their award-winning dining outlets and sumptuous Bliss Spa, it was a no-brainer.
‘So – how was it?’, you’re thinking? Well, we don’t blame you. We’d be curious too. Here’s the lowdown.
It’s early on a Friday afternoon when I arrive – just ahead of the eager brunch crowd. The lobby is enjoying the calm before the brunching storm and, as I approach the check-in desk, Alexandra, the W Insider (how awesome a title is that?), approaches me and greets me by name. Though we’ve not met previously, she somehow recognizes me – just how, I’ll soon discover! I’m taken aback; the first thing coming to mind is ‘Wow, they certainly do their research.’ Right away, I’m impressed.
Check-in is quick and effortless, and Alexandra escorts me upstairs to my room for the weekend – a Cool Corner Suite on the 6th floor – while my luggage is whisked away to follow. As we enter the elevator she presents me with a colourful card printed with a WhatsApp number, explaining that if I need anything at all during my stay – whatever, whenever – I can text this number 24-hours a day and my wish is their command. Awesome.
I’ve booked into one of their junior suites for the duration of my stay-cay – a Cool Corner Suite in fact. (Love the quirky names they have!) The space is remarkably spacious – pardon the alliteration – with vaulted ceilings and banks of floor-to-ceiling windows fronting the entire length of the room. The colour palette is shades of grey, white, and periwinkle blue, anchored by gauzy, silver sheer curtains that surround the sleeping area. On the dining table I notice a place-mat emblazoned with my photo (those Facebook stalkers!) and a welcome message from the W Doha team. It’s these extra touches that absolutely make all the difference in the guest experience – and no one does it like W. Also, I now understand how Alexandra managed to recognize me!
The enclave where the bed and entertainment unit reside feels like a secluded grotto – or the inside of a Genie’s bottle. The bed is sumptuous and enveloping and, adjacent to the mini-bar and side-table, stands a lush walk-in dressing area with dark wood closets and an immense amount of storage space. There’s also a reading nook with plush settees and foot-stools, perfect to catch the city sunrise over a morning cup of coffee.
The bathroom is a suite unto its own, with a large soaker tub for bubble-baths and bubbly, a shower the size of a closet that could easily fit 5 people, and lush bath products, creams, and toiletries from their in-house Bliss Spa line. Anchoring the space is an office work area just as you enter with a long (and we mean long) desk complete with everything the on-the-go employee could want...including a hidden cubby filled with stationary you don’t usually find in a hotel office desk: Post-Its, binder clips, paperclips, Scotch Tape etc.
But let’s be honest – we’re not here to think about work. At least, not this weekend!
The Spice of Life
When it comes to brunching in Doha, you may hear the words ‘Spice Market’ whispered in hushed, reverent tones among the Friday faithful. As much a Doha institution as the act of brunching itself, now that we’re settled and ready to rumble, it’s here we’re headed.
A consistent award-winner on the local foodie scene, Spice Market’s street market-style brunch is as much about the theatre as it is the food. There’s the hand-made noodle station where you can watch your Pad Thai being tossed in front of you. Or, watch as the chef carves up a crackling morsel of Peking duck, wrap it in a fluffy pancake, add a dash of spring onions and a drizzle of Hoisin barbecue sauce – and job done! Or, marvel at their sushi station, where the maki rolls are never-ending and you can fill your plate over and over again until you can no longer lift your chopsticks.
Read our full review here!
Highlights of the brunch experience for us today are the fresh seafood stew made to order and brought to the table piping hot and heaped with tender morsels of fish, prawns, and plump mussels mingling in a zesty tomato-based broth. Tom yum indeed! There’s also the freshly fried red snapper, dusted in the lightest coating of salt-and-peppered batter so fresh, so light, that the only accompaniment needed is a squeeze of lemon. (However, we won’t deny that the fiery five-spice Szechuan sauce on the side was bang on.)
Let’s Get Pampered
After brunch it’s easy to give in to the temptation to totter back up to your room for a mid-afternoon siesta. But – it’s Friday, and you’re in the W Doha. You can do better than that. After a quick change into our swimsuits we head down to the hotel’s 2nd floor and hit up their Wet Deck.
There’s something for everyone on the magical 2nd floor it seems. Those still standing from the post-brunch crowd are making their way into Wahm – the hotel’s chic cocktail lounge that shares space with the pool deck. Sit inside on one of their lush banquettes and have your tipple, or (when it’s a wee bit cooler out) snag one of the vibrant outdoor cabana booths and soak up the sun amidst the skyscrapers.
Across from Wahm is the W Doha’s signature wellness brand – Bliss Spa. From the latest innovative skincare treatments, to their roster of toe-curling massage options, as their name suggests, here’s where you’ll find your Bliss. Also, we can’t help but love its whimsical décor and bold colour scheme – it screams funky-fresh W. Or, if you need to work off those extra dumplings from brunch, nip into FIT next door and pay your dues on the cardio circuit. At least you’ve got a killer view!
For us, we’ve embraced our do-as-little-as-possible mojo and have snagged a lounger by the Wet Deck – armed and ready to put in some serious pool time. We grab some beverages from their poolside bar – which also serves an array of tasty bites, and get tucked in to hardcore relaxation mode. With all best intentions, I’ve brought a book – but the glimmering waters of their blue mosaic tile waterfall pool are calling me. While small, it’s cozy and as glimmering as a fish-tail – above us, in the overhang that marks the lip of the waterfall, is the hot tub – or should we say ‘hot trough’ as it runs the full length of the pool. As the sun sets, iridescent LED lights light up its depths. Only the W could make the pool look like an Ibiza nightclub.
And so we float, and float, and sip, and float...until the sun is an egg yolk on the horizon and dinner awaits.
La Dolce Vita
The eyes, the heart, the belly – you’ll eat with them all at La Spiga by Paper Moon, the hotel’s signature Italian fine-dining restaurant. After putting that luscious rain shower to use and getting somewhat dolled up for dinner, we head down to the ground-floor outlet that’s already beckoning us from across the lobby with its candle-lit shine.
While small, the restaurant is, at the same time, cozy, yet exquisitely refined. Holding pride of place and anchoring the elegance of its ambiance is the shimmering disco-ball of a wood-fired pizza oven. Covered in thousands of shards of gold mosaic tile, it can only be described as functional art. The General Manager, Paolo Frau, who is attentive, approachable, and very hands-on in the restaurant, leads us to a table at the back. The décor is dark and sleek, with black-and-white portraits of Old Hollywood adorning the walls – Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Steve McQueen.
La Spiga has also renovated its intimate outdoor terrace to further enclose the space and create an ambiance of an Italian garden. Tonight, we dine, and we dine well. Standout dishes from the restaurant’s expansive menu include a luscious beef bresaola stuffed with creamy goat’s cheese, a creamy velveteen zucchini soup, a porcini and wild mushroom risotto that is comfort in very bite and, La Spiga’s signature Pappardelle pasta with beef bacon in a smoky tomato-cream sauce. We leave stuffed and satisfied. And, when retiring to my room to discover the turn-down clerk just leaving, he greets me once again by name – nothing surprises me anymore. After all, this level of service is just how they do at the W.
Check-Out & A Leisurely Morning Meal
After a long, long lie-in (those 400-thread count sheets will do that!) and a long soak in the bubble-bath the night before, I awake like Jello. The thought of not being able to take this bed home with me makes me cling to it all the more.
The late-check out option as part of the Summer Staycation offer is an added bonus. As it allows guests time to linger and luxuriate. Order that room service breakfast! Nip to the pool for a few morning laps! Book that cheeky 10:00 a.m. Bliss facial! The day is yours – good to the last drop.
Luckily for us we have a booking at Market for our morning meal – which comes as part of the staycation offer. So, after a few more minutes of lingering under the covers, book in hand, I bite the bullet and get ready to head downstairs for a tasty top-off to a top-notch stay.
Since the fairly recent renovations to Market two years ago, the space radiates warmth. Retaining its amber hues, the colour palette is now balanced by rich wood accents and pops of colour in the form of over-sized curio jars filled with sweets – jelly beans, Turkish Delight, and more. Again, whimsical, yet refined.
After a luscious lunch of Market maki rolls (we live for the crispy shredded crab), a truffle pizza that’s quickly become their signature pie, and some lightly-tossed crispy honeyed prawns, we leave with a cookie bag to go and smiles on our faces. If you go, be sure to keep an eye out for Assistant General Manager Daniel Toledo – he’ll make sure you’re well taken care of and can walk you through the menu for an exceptional dining experience.
After an equally breezy check-out, our luggage is at the ready and the valet is waiting. Full disclosure – while I’m a regular patron at the W’s many outlets, this was the first time I’ve stayed as a guest in the hotel. And the experience left me asking why I waited this long? For me, a quality experience starts with the people – and there are truly some of the most switched-on staff working at the W. No attention to detail was spared, and it was done with a smile. That alone is enough to warrant a return visit. Because, if one thing’s for sure, this staycation felt more like home.
The W Doha's Summer Staycation offers are valid until October 31, 2017. Want to make a booking, or learn more? Click here.
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