Disclaimer – It is important to note that Qatar has been in the news lately due to some political tensions in the region so please do your research and travel responsibly.
I’ve wanted to explore Doha, Qatar, for awhile now.
Ever since one of my absolute favourite brands, Four Seasons, opened their Doha property, I’ve been itching to visit it. I’ve worked with Four Seasons before on various writing and photography assignments at their properties in Mauritius, the Seychelles, Portugal, Washington DC, and Baltimore, Maryland. So, it is a brand I truly love and respect.
On my way back from Nepal, I did a quick stopover in Doha during Ramadan to also experience the city during this very important Islamic observance.
Getting there – Qatar Airways
Despite logging tons of air miles on various carriers to 60+ countries, this was my first time flying Qatar Airways, even though I’ve been a regular contributor to its Oryx inflight magazine.
When I told my contact at Qatar Airways that I was flying them to Asia, I got a complimentary one-way business class upgrade to check out their cabin. Especially since Qatar Airways has just been voted the Airline of the Year as well as the 2017 World’s Best Business Class, Best First Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline in the Middle East. Talk about raking up awards!
So I knew going in it was already going to be a top class experience but what I particularly enjoyed was just how personalized the service was. In addition to a dedicated flight attendant, you also get to choose when you wanted your meals and drinks, how you wanted them customized, and if you wanted comfortable sleepwear to change into, to name a few amenities.
It was also the perfect opportunity for me to binge on movies (Beauty and the Beast, Split) and TV programs (Legion, Queen Sugar, Modern Family) I’ve had on my list for awhile now in the comfort and quiet of my own cube.
Staying there – Four Seasons Doha
Having worked with and stayed at several high-end properties throughout my career as a travel writer and photographer, I’m certainly not opposed to luxury, especially when you’ve worked really hard to enjoy those pleasures once in awhile and for me, I do balance rough and tough assignments with relaxation to recharge. Why I particularly like Four Seasons is their company culture. There’s a down-to-earth genuine warmth among its staff and an effortlessness to the whole experience there.
If you’re looking for stodgy old school extravagance, you won’t find it here. I always find those types of places rather pretentious, uncomfortable, and dated.
While at Four Seasons Doha, I stayed in one of their Ambassador Suites with sweeping views over the harbor and skyline. The hotel has nine (9!) restaurants and lounges, an impressive three-storey spa and wellness center, and a private beach among other amenities. Needless to say, I wished my husband had been traveling with me to enjoy my spacious suite with its sectioned-off living area, plush king-sized bed, and large bathroom with its double doors and generous bathtub.
I also happened to get a glimpse of their Ramadan tent which is a converted banquet hall with a lavish buffet spread used to feed guests once they break their fast en masse in the evenings at sunset so that in itself was an experience.
Eating there – Nobu
One of the highlights of my short stopover in Doha was my exquisite dining experience at Nobu Doha. Synonymous with Hollywood stars and dignitaries, Nobu is a celebrated brand of Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurants headed by infamous Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa known for his signature Japanese style. Four Seasons Doha happens to have the largest Nobu restaurant in the world at 26,000 square-foot in three-storey oval shaped building with one of the most coveted harborfront locations in town.
Nobu is known for its iconic black cod in sweet miso which I couldn’t wait to try. But before I got to that black cod, it was a feast of mini bites starting with spicy edamame which suited my palate perfectly (I love spicy food and always load on the pepper). From chicken bites and crispy rice topped with salmon to crunchy squid and whole pimento peppers battered in tempura. Another Nobu classic is its rock salt shrimp which I devoured alongside soft-shell crab tempura (one of my favourite shellfish).
By the time I got to the Wagyu beef, cod fish prepared three ways, and fluffy desserts, I was stuffed and in a good way. Because fine dining restaurants are notorious for giving you whispers of food that leave you reaching for takeout food as backup.
So I love that Nobu Dohu truly gets that its guests need to eat and actually feel satisfied by serving generous portions.
Shopping there – Souq Waqif
After dinner, I had a few hours to go explore the vibrant marketplace Souq Waqif. Ramadan had just finished the very same night so Doha’s streets were packed with people in a celebratory mood, eating, reveling, and enjoying the unusually cool summer evening. So most of the stalls were open till very late.
The market itself dates back over 100 years and it was renovated in 2006 to help preserve its traditional Qatari style. Within its bowels is where you can pick up tons of traditional clothing and jewelry, spices, handicrafts, and other souvenirs alongside restaurants and shisha lounges. I did pick up a Qatari outfit for my son as well as magnets which my kids love placing on the refrigerator door from mommy’s travels.
Even if you’re just window-shopping, strolling through its narrow alleyways and getting lost within its labyrinth is a relaxing way to while away time in Doha.
Overall, I enjoyed my brief trip to Qatar mostly because I came to relax in style and totally pamper myself. So I definitely see a return trip to this gulf state in the near future to explore more of it beyond Doha and get a closer look at everyday local living.
View more photos from Qatar in my image bank. Special thanks to Qatar Airways for the business class upgrade, Four Seasons Doha for the warm hospitality, and Nobu for the complimentary dining experience. As always, all opinions are my own.