The desert sands sprawled either side of me as the aircraft landed. Beige, beige and more beige.
"Welcome to Qatar Doha Hamad International Airport where the current time is 08:00 and the outside temperature is 35 degrees. We hope you have a pleasant stay or a safe onward journey."
This wasn't the first time for me to land in Doha. I had already travelled here at least 4 times prior to this encounter. But this time, it was different. Traveling home to the UK via Doha with my colleague and friend of one year for 4 days in the desert sun before dreary London and Wales.
Our plan- sunshine and brunching and more sunshine.
One thing to know about Doha- it's like Dubai 10 years ago. Great hotels have surfaced along with a steady stream of Friday Brunches, Platinum movie theaters and Glamorous shopping malls (basically all my favorite past times).
Our itinerary was VERY relaxed (we had just finished working a 13 week term as teachers in Beijing, also, Doha in June is HOT!):
Day 1: Bask in sunshine at hotel beach
Enter hotel beach bar for sundowners,
Retire to room, get ready to hit a restaurant and have a few drinks.
Day 2: FRIDAY BRUNCH (you need to pre-book this before arrival by 3 weeks) from 12- 4pm.
Liquid Brunch 5-12 (should book in advance by about 2 days!)
Day 3: Recover poolside
Visit a Platinum movie theatre
Eat at a restaurant and have a few drinks at the beach bar.
Day 4: Breakfast at Santa Monica breakfast Club before hitting the airport
Despite our itinerary there is so much to do in Doha.
Some of my personal favorites include:
Islamic Art Museum (pictured below right)
Banana Island Resort
Platinum Movie Theatres
Villagio Mall (transport yourself to Venice!)
Nobu at Four Seasons (Do it for the views!)
CUT by Wolfgang Puck at Mondrian
Magnolia Bakery at Mondrian
L'Wzzar at Katara Village
Grand Hyatt (West Bay)
Mondrian (West Bay)
Four Seasons (Business Bay)
Shangri La (Business Bay)
Kempinski (The Pearl)
St Regis (The Pearl, pictured above left)
What is a MUST when in Doha?
FRIDAY BRUNCH! You've never brunched unless you've Friday Brunched!
Friday is the start of the weekend in Middle Eastern countries. Brunch is a perfect way to celebrate and over indulge. It is the event to see and be seen at. It's a very expat indulgence.
First tip: Book in advance- this way you can get into the hotel you want. My personal favorite in Doha is the St Regis Grand Friday Brunch (80-95 GBP per head). Other highly commendable brunches include Kempinski and Four Seasons, also Nobu if you love sushi!
Tip 2: Go hungry- don't eat before hand! The brunches do not disappoint. The St Regis is set over 4 restaurants on the ground floor and outside terrace including 5 different specialist drinks stations with free flowing champagne for the entirety of your stay at the brunch. The cuisine ranges from a Sunday roast, to pancakes, to sushi and pizza. Every type of cuisine is covered to tantalize your tastebuds and excite your eyes. Room for dessert? There is usually a cheese room and a dessert section lasting an entire wall! Got kids? No problem, they have their own designated brunch area and play area!
Tip 3: Dress to impress... and hide the food baby! If like me, you bloat even looking at bread or pasta, then you probably are subject to food babies. Perfect for the hot weather (and excess eating) I recommend a non fitting dress or jumpsuit. Avoid jeans or any item that may require "undoing buttons or a belt" (sorry men!). This way you can enjoy your brunch and not worry how you look.
Tip 4: When you arrive, scout the areas- avoid carbs and/or "cheap" rice dishes. This ensures you can enjoy majority of the foods. It's great to wander and see everything the brunch has to offer- this way you will not be disappointed if you "miss" something or don't have enough stomach room to try something.
Tip 5: If there is a group of you- try each other's drinks or pick up a plate for the table where you can all tuck in and try different foods- it saves you have to leave the company you are in to refill your plate or glass. Also, pick up more than one drink at at time for the same reason.
Tip 6: Remember that Qatar is a Muslim country where it is illegal to be drunk and disorderly in public. Be safe during brunch. Enjoy yourself but remember you are a guest in a country and must abide by their laws. Remember to carry a pashmina/ scarf to cover shoulders if you are going to wear a shoulder baring dress for when you are in public areas.
Points of note:
This trip was self funded, in no way funded by any third party. Views are entirely my own taken from personal experience.
Copyright Lauren Toner 2019