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Ultra Luxury Short Break at the Shangri-La Doha
Doha, the capital of Qatar, is known as a stopping point for many long-haul flights, especially those to Australia, but not many think of Doha as a short break destination in itself. So when I got the chance to stop over in Doha for a weekend I was curious as to what it had to offer.
First off, it is nothing like Dubai. Sure, it has amazing wealth and luxury, but none of the flashiness and brazen money showing of Dubai. Qatar and Doha are all about luxury and quality, with visitor care, in a more understated way.
I flew on one of Qatar Airways new 737’s, and after a five-hour flight from Heathrow arrived at Hamad Airport in Qatar (3 hours ahead) just as night fell. Hamad Airport has had billions spent on it, being named the best airport in the world by many publications. Spacious and uncrowded, it was very fast to track through and catch a short cab ride to the Shangri-La Doha where I was staying.
The reception lobby of the Shangri-La is a large open area, with free Arabic coffee and stuffed dates for those that want them. Reception staff are on hand to help with any questions and are knowledgeable about the city of Doha.
In fact, in true luxury style, the staff are on hand for all and any of your needs. Never encroaching, they seem to just be there when you need them, helping with your bags, assisting with children, sorting taxis, or getting you that phone charger because you lost yours. Nothing was any bother or too much trouble, and the staff at the Shangri-La reflected this wherever we went in the hotel.
The Shangri-La Doha has 272 rooms and suites over 42 floors, of which 60 are Horizon Club class on the upper floors, the type of room I stayed in.
Arriving late at night, the room offered everything and more. Spacious, well laid out, with huge floor to ceiling windows, it had that penthouse feel. But for me, as a traveller, the best part was how easy it was to settle in. The desk was a decent size and separate, away from the comfy seats and table to give you working room. All the power sockets were multinational so no adaptor needed; USB sockets in every plug so no need to hunt down your charger and adaptor.
The Wifi was open – no password needed, and very fast for both upload and download; great for emailing large documents or images. Within 30 seconds of entry to my room, I had my laptop plugged in and connected, phone on charge and ready to unpack my clothes. This has made the Shangri-La Doha have probably the best hotel room I have ever stayed in. And I haven’t even mentioned how comfortable the bed was.
Hospitality at the Shangri-La Doha even extended to a handmade welcome cake decorated as a camera (well they knew I was here on a photography trip). To the chefs at the Shangri-La that made it: I managed to take it home and ate every bit. A big thank you.
And the Shangri-La Doha has all the amenities you would expect of a 5-star hotel. Passing the ground-floor fully equipped gym and stepping outside the hotel takes you to the pool, a nicely laid out area with space to relax or play. Although the heat and humidity are high, the cooling effect of the pool could just make this an ideal place to pass the time.
Off from the pool is the Shangri-La Spa called Chi-Spa, which is spaciously laid out in dark wood. The heady aroma of oils and perfumes is ever present and can instantly be recognized as the signature Shangri-La Spa aroma. As with all spas in Qatar, there are separate male and female sections, ideal if you just want some luxury ‘Me’ time.
And if you want to go shopping, level 3 has a private walkway to the city shopping mall. All the amenities are available regardless of your room level, so your experience of the hotel (outside of your room) should be the same for everyone.
If you want to explore even greater luxury in the form of an exclusive experience, then breakfast on the helipad 45 stories up is one not to be missed. You need to book it but it is worth it.
At 45 storeys up you are literally on the top of the hotel. The view is amazing, and as the sun rises you see light rolling across Doha and illuminating the city, and with it, the heat starts to rise. Sipping coffee and eating the local croissants, which seem to taste better than any I have ever had, this is a moment you will remember for a lifetime. It would be a honeymooner’s dream start to a day.
Horizon Club guests also have a private breakfast and evening cocktail bar on the 43rd floor with the obvious amazing views across Doha. An all you can eat breakfast buffet is available, along with Chef prepared items makes for a good morning start. In the evening there is an all you can drink cocktail bar, where you literally pour your own drinks, although there is a somebody there to make cocktails for you if you want. It was the first time I have seen this – oh how so civilized.
In Qatar, alcohol is generally not available and is only allowed to be served in 5 Star Hotels. The drinks lists of non-alcohol serving places are full of the most amazing fruit cocktails, teas and coffees that even the hardened drinker would not be disappointed.
All the 5-Star hotels in Doha have differing speciality restaurants in them, and the Shangri-La has the Shanghai Club Cantonese Restaurant on the 43rd floor.
I dined there on my first night and was amazed at how many locals were there as well, many celebrating birthdays or other parties. Clearly, it has a good reputation and rightly so. The food was amazing, and much crisper and more interesting than you might have expected unless you have had Cantonese before.
Signature dishes like dim sum handbags went down a storm, and the sesame beef was so good I wasn’t the only one to say it was the best I have ever had.
There are so many good restaurants in Doha that your biggest problem will be deciding on where to go. Just around the corner is the Intercontinental Hotel which has a larger pool and beach frontage and is home to Nobu Doha. This has to be one of the best restaurants in the world. I was lucky enough to dine there at on Saturday Night. It was so good I had to write a post just about Nobu in Doha.
Doha has so much that you can do, most of which is within a few minutes drive from the hotel, that you will always have to choose between activities. There is never a dull moment here, from visiting the Museums, soaking up the sun by the desert sea, or haggling at the Souq Wassif, the oldest covered Souk in the world. If you roam outside of Doha, a 45-minute drive out of the city takes you into the desert and gives you the chance to go dune bashing or enjoy the inland sea. Check out my post and video of this here.
Heading back at Hamad International Airport Doha, you see the huge teddybear light which is the symbol of the airport. With hundreds of shops and restaurants in the airport, there is plenty to do whilst waiting for the flight. Fast free wifi to keep in touch and child-friendly areas to keep them quiet really rounds out any trip nicely.
With only 2 days in Doha, you are unlikely to be able to experience everything The Shangri-La has to offer, but it’s nice to know it is there for you. And with so much to do in Doha as well, it is no surprise that people return from Qatar full of enjoyment and stories, of which no two are the same. Doha is a location that you need to visit, and worth a trip in its own right. But if you are passing through Doha, then this really is a short break or stopover destination that you need to visit. It could even be the highlight of your entire holiday.
We were guests of the Qatar Tourist Authority
Shangri-La Hotel Doha
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