Rosemary Behan finds the lap of luxury and grandeur in Doha.
Hotel insider: St Regis, Doha is the Rolls-Royce of hotels
I was met at the airport by a member of the St Regis staff who had my name on a board. Outside, a Rolls-Royce Phantom was waiting, complete with cold towels and fruit on skewers. There aren't many better welcomes.
The hotel is situated on a small headland in the West Bay area of Doha, between The Pearl and the Downtown area and Corniche. It's about a 15-minute drive from the airport. The nearby Katara beach is pleasant and has an interesting, if completely modern, cultural quarter.
I share a two-bedroom empire suite with a friend. It's a palatial 190 square metres, with a large living room between the bedrooms, so there is no treading on each other's toes. There are large windows with sea views, so it feels private. The decor is rather blandly luxurious but it's the essentials that matter - the huge, comfortable St Regis signature beds, faultless air con, no-nonsense double glazing and good blackout blinds. Unfortunately, as the hotel is new and some areas are not yet finished, there's a light drilling noise on one of the mornings. The shower in my bathroom floods the floor each time I use it.
Our butler is thoughtful and arrives when we need him. Service is swift and friendly throughout the hotel, apart from at Vine, where we have lunch. The service in Opal, however, is much friendlier, faster and cosier.
Given it is new, the hotel is surprisingly busy. The lobby is grand, with huge marble pillars, glittering chandeliers and high ceilings. The more intimate Sarab Lounge to the rear of the lobby is full of locals having afternoon tea. The beach, however, is empty, and I don't like the look of the seawater area for swimming. The hotel now has nine bars and restaurants, including Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, which hosts live jazz every day. A 10th outlet, Hakkasan, is due to open this year.
We tried both Gordon Ramsay restaurants. Our favourite was Opal, the more casual of the two, for the hammour ceviche with avocado, horseradish, ginger and wakame (65 Qatari riyals [Dh66]), the chilli, salt and Szechuan pepper squid (70 riyals [Dh71]), tamarind chicken wings with spring onions and coriander (85 riyals [Dh86]), the macaroni cheese (35 riyals [Dh35]) and thin-crust rustic pizza with artichokes (90 riyals [Dh91]).
Our suite, which felt like a private serviced apartment, and the range of restaurants on offer.
Because the hotel is brand new, there's a powerful chemical smell in the lobby areas. There is currently a shortage of taxis in Doha, which makes advance planning essential. It was difficult to get a metered taxi quickly, either at the hotel or in the city centre.
A grand and luxurious property that is a destination in itself. Allow yourself a minimum of three nights to enjoy both the hotel and the city outside.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the St Regis Doha, Doha West Bay, Qatar (www.stregisdoha.com; 800 3257 8734) cost from 1,300 riyals (Dh1,311) per night, including taxes.