St Regis, Doha

St Regis Doha was the first of this refined NYC brand to hit the Middle East, and its location between the new West Bay development and beleaguered Pearl project seems a sensible move – it’s not too far from the Corniche, and seems to have hedged its bets on the expansion of Doha. Made up of two towers, the imposingly high ceiling lobby and public areas have been designed with light Arabic touches – plenty of marble, they’ve held back on the gold, thank goodness.

Standard rooms aren’t as big as you might expect for such a prestigious hotel, or compared to others in the market but they are finished to a high standard and you get your own butler. As lovely as this sounds, it always stresses me out a little, trying to think of things for them to do, but they will bring  you tea and iron your clothes, which if you can remember to ask them for both, is a nice treat. The hotel is also home to the largest Presidential suite in Doha, a sprawling duplex at the top of the tower, it has hosted royalty, celebrities and dignataries – all for the snip of a sum of $10,000 a night.

One of the attractions of St Regis for me is the high standard of its restaurants. Shouty British chef Gordon Ramsey has two restaurants in the hotel, one fine dining and very upmarket, think thick white linen tablecloths and an air of reverence, and one casual dining. While I’m not sure how I feel about five star chefs basically doing posh fast food, there’s no denying that Opal by Gordon Ramsey serves up the best chicken wings and pizzas in Doha. If it’s cool enough bag a table on the terrace which overlooks the vast pool and out to the lagoon. Also if you’re about in the evening, there’s a fabulous bird-cage slash country garden pagoda style bar on your way to Opal, one of the most interestingly decorated spaces in town.

But it doesn’t end there. St Regis is also home to two more venues worth your riyals. Jazz at Lincoln Centre is a small supper and jazz club, all small dark booths, strong cocktails and dark lighting, which plays host to NYC’s best jazz musicians who are flown out from Lincoln Centre New York to perform, for free. Head to the bar around 10pm to see some of the world’s best jazz artists…and if you’re lucky there might even be some other people there too.

And finally, acclaimed Chinese chain Hakkasan has just opened its first venue in Doha. Set on the ground floor, it has a decked terrace where the right people need to be seen, and brings seriously upmarket Chinese food to Doha. Going on visits to other Hakkasans, bring your wallet. But it will be worth it.

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