Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel

After Doha I headed to Dubai, and this time I stayed for two nights at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel. During my last visit to Dubai I was at the JA Ocean View Hotel, and it was then that I discovered the charms of the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) ‘Walk’ with its cosmopolitan mix of restaurants and shops. The Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel is similarly located on The ‘Walk’, and its location in Dubai Marina means that it is within easy reach of the Dubai’s new business hubs: Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Jebel Ali Free Zone.

Sofitel Dubai Jumeriah Beach Hotel

Sofitel Dubai Jumeriah Beach Hotel

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Opal by Gordon Ramsay, St Regis Hotel, Doha, Qatar (Day One – Doha)

Grand Foyer

Grand Foyer

Doha, Qatar is not the choice of destination when most people head to the Middle East. Typically, people think Dubai first. To be sure, Doha is not in the same league as Dubai as far as entertainment options goes, but it looks to be seeking more recognition on the global stage. Doha is due to host the 2022 World Cup, and construction is going up left, right and centre. Currently the city is in the process of building one of the largest airports in the world, which is due to open later this year. The new Doha Hamad International Airport will be able to handle some 50m passengers per year, with some estimates putting it at up to 93million. Once opened it will only come second only to Dubai in terms of traffic passing through the Middle East.

And then there is the weather, which is always guaranteed to be warm to hot throughout the year. To be sure it is a little too hot during the summer days, but it helps that everywhere you go there is air conditioned.

Doha also has a string of nice hotels and restaurants, and for the first of my two nights in Doha I stayed at the St Regis Hotel, which was the epitome of 5-Star elegance. The hotel exudes a sense of Middle Eastern mystique and glamour, and as you walk into the hotel, the lobby, which is almost 4 storeys high, will stun you with its breathtaking beauty. As far as 5-star hotels go, this was in a league of its own and must truly rate as one of the most beautiful that I had ever seen.

St Regis Hotel lobby

St Regis Hotel lobby

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Blue Boar Smokehouse & Bar

The Blue Boar Smokehouse & Bar is a newly opened restaurant and bar that forms part of the also newly opened Intercontinental Hotel on Tothill Street in Westminster. The Blue Boar’s décor is understandably very five-star hotel-esque – there’s lots of strong oak panelling throughout, and it has been styled to cater to the suits working around the corner at the Houses of Parliament.

Being a smokehouse, the menu offers smoked meats such as pulled pork and pulled lamb shoulder, charcoal and wood grilled foods, plus a range of starters and desserts. On Sundays there is a special brunch menu, which for £45, you can eat as much as you want from the feasting table (salads, seafood and meats), plus unlimited Bloody Marys, Bucks Fizzes and tea or coffee. In addition to this you can choose a main of your choice.

It was the Sunday Brunch that we sampled, and there was a really good range of salads such as smoked feta cheese, with shaved fennel, pomegranate and toasted pistachios; Caesar salad; and hot smoked Scottish salmon with a Niçoise garnish. They were all nicely done, but the best of the lot was a smoked chicken with Granny Smith apple that was great. The chicken was very tasty and moist, and the combination with the apple really worked.

Salad bar

Salad bar

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