Posted on Sunday, 15th December 2013
After Dubai I headed back to Doha where I spent one night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha. It’s located right on the water’s edge in the prestigious West Bay area, north of the Pearl (Doha’s version of Dubai’s Palm) and downtown Doha, and its strategic position means that the hotel offers expansive views of the City of Doha.
The décor is a blend of classic European and Arabic design, and would appeal to those who favour a hotel with a more classical, traditional feel. Particularly impressive was the lobby with its high ceilings where the opulent Grand Lobby Lounge is situated. It’s a great social meeting point where you might meet up with friends or grab a cup of tea. My deluxe room was similarly decorated in a classical style and was incredibly comfortable. The bed was kitted out with the loveliest of Egyptian cotton sheets to make for a heavenly night’s sleep.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha was particularly impressive for its plethora of amenities. The outdoor area was beautifully designed with a lagoon-like pool that offered fantastic views of the West Bay Marina. Indoors, the fitness centre boasted a junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, two indoor tennis courts, a squash court, as well as pilates and yoga classes. One would certainly not be bored if looking for things to do at the Ritz-Carlton Doha.
The spa facilities included separate his and her sections, each with a steam room, sauna and, indoor whirlpool. I tried the Ritz-Carlton Doha signature massage (QR480 – about £80) and it was fabulous. My therapist was utterly charming, and her soothing style during the treatment easily put me to sleep.
Afternoon tea at La Mer
There is a range of dining options at the Ritz-Carlton Doha with La Mer being the hotel’s signature seafood restaurant. Located on the 23rd floor, it’s the best spot in the hotel to take in the wonderful views of Qatar Pearl and downtown Doha. The restaurant is very grand, spacious and well laid out. With its décor and views, the setting means that one can dine in comfort and style.
Between 2.30pm and 5pm La Mer plays host to afternoon tea, and gathering from those in attendance, this is an activity that is popular among the local Qatari ladies. There were various afternoon tea options, and we went for the Royal Afternoon Tea, served with a glass of sparkling wine (QR180 – about £30), and the Arabic Afternoon Tea (QR120 – about £20).
The Royal Afternoon Tea came with sandwiches containing a variety of fillings such as ham, prawns, egg, etc. All were simple but tasty. The cakes were decent and there was also a wonderfully light and airy chocolate mousse. Particularly well done were the scones that were fluffy on the inside with a slight crunchiness on the outside, but which would have tasted more complete had clotted cream been available. The Arabic Tea offering came with kibbeb and other savoury Arabic pastries as well as hummus, moutabal and traditional baklava which were all decent.
Both the afternoon teas were pleasantly satisfying, but what made the experience particularly unique were the views of downtown Doha. It really was a great little spot for such a nice social gathering. The pleasant service also helped to round off a lovely afternoon experience.
Dinner at La Mer
La Mer may offer afternoon tea, but it is really the dinner that sets the restaurant apart. The amuse bouche was very El Bulli-esque, being a deconstructed olive. Jelly-like in texture, it was filled with liquefied olive to provide an olive tasting, yet jelly like experience.
The bread selection was ok. They were tasty enough but lacked for a hard crust. The accompanying butters of garlic, plain, sweet and herbs proved interesting, although the garlic one was quite strong. The best of the four was the herb butter with its fragrant overtones.
To the starters and a trio of foie gras (QR120 – about £20) – terrine, foie gras and crème brulee – was truly delicious. The foie gras was incredible – beautifully soft, unctuous and rich with flavour. The terrine was also wonderful for it was creamy and delicious. Sandwiched between lightly toasted bread, it had been topped with popping candy for an incredibly interesting effect. The crème brulee worked a treat as well as it was also light and smooth, although I would have preferred a touch more foie gras flavour. The caramelised topping was especially well done.
Vegetable cannelloni with asparagus cappuccino (QR70 – about £11.80) was a truly magical dish. Shaped like a cannelloni but containing no pasta, it consisted of a zucchini, grated carrot and a mascarpone filling. Dressed with a capsicum coulis and topped with a black balsamic ‘caviar’, the flavours merged together beautifully. On the side was the asparagus cappuccino, a heady concoction of creamy, delicate asparagus flavour.
An Earl grey smoked wagyu beef main (QR285 – about £47.80) came to the table covered with a lid, which when lifted, imparted an amazing smoky aroma. The wagyu was tender and well cooked, but not as succulent or fatty in taste as one might expect from wagyu. The foie gras topping was heavenly, the jus was tasty, and the accompanying asparagus still held onto their bite.
Mixed berry gratin (QR60 – about £10) with mascarpone ice cream proved to be another classy dish with a touch of elegance. The mixture of berries was naturally sweet, and the topping of vanilla sponge set with custard was indulgent and scrumptious. The combination of sweet fruit with the lovely topping made for a fantastic combination.
Chocolate soufflé (QR70 – about £11.80) with a yoghurt sorbet looked like a soufflé but resembled a chocolate fondant in both taste and texture. The chocolate was tasty, but it was quite runny and could have done with a couple more minutes of cooking time. The sorbet worked well to cut the richness of the soufflé.
The food at La Mer was stunning, showcasing superlative cooking and incredible ingredients. It was a pretty fault free dining experience, topped by some wonderful views and the loveliest of service.
The Lagoon Restaurant
The Lagoon Restaurant is the Ritz-Carlton Doha’s 24-hour dining outlet. Buffet breakfasts and buffet lunches are served in The Lagoon. The breakfast options were respectable if a little unremarkable. The lunch buffet changes every day and on the day I visited for lunch there was some nicely cooked seafood dishes.
The things I liked most about the Ritz-Carlton Doha:
1) The wonderful views of The Pearl and Downtown Doha from La Mer Restaurant,
2) The dinner at La Mer Restaurant,
3) The wealth of amenities at the hotel, and
4) The solid, customer-orientated service.
La Mer afternoon tea
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
La Mer dinner
Food rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 4/5
Breakfast rating: 3/5
Lunch rating: 3.5/5
Internet: There is a charge for wifi other than for Club Floor guests.