x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Restaurant in the sky makes InterContinental Doha worth a trip

Hotel Insider This business hotel in the Qatari capital's West Bay is a trendy, beautifully designed venue.

The airy and spacious lobby has some wonderful touches including a chandelier shaped like giant crystal wind chimes Courtesy InterContinental Hotels
The airy and spacious lobby has some wonderful touches including a chandelier shaped like giant crystal wind chimes Courtesy InterContinental Hotels

The welcome

We got off to an ignominious start when our taxi driver failed to realise there are two InterContinental hotels in Doha and took us to the wrong one. Luckily, the InterContinental Doha the City is a stone's throw from its beachside cousin. The taxi dropped us off at the rather sterile foyer of the serviced residences, a world apart from the hotel's striking lobby, complete with blue neon disco steps and a fabulous chandelier shaped like giant crystal wind chimes.

The neighbourhood

The 58-storey hotel is the latest addition to the growing number of skyscrapers in West Bay, the Dubai Marina of Doha. Neon-lit at night, it adds a dash of Vegas to the Manhattan-esque skyline. Access is tucked down a nondescript road littered with building sites. The street entrance aside, it is conveniently located for nights out in West Bay and for the Gate and City Centre malls.

The room

Our deluxe twin room is enormous, with the biggest bathroom I've ever seen. It is disappointing to find two single beds rather than queen-sized and I sleep in a narrow bed for the first time since my teens. There are lovely touches though, such as a tray of delicious chocolates and dates brought nightly to our room. We also love the sushi and nibbles on offer in the club lounge, open to guests in the more expensive room categories, every evening, too.

The service

Outstanding in the restaurants. In Strata, for instance, the waiter is full of helpful suggestions and extremely knowledgeable about the food and drinks on offer without being overbearing. At breakfast, staff remember my request for hot water with fresh lemon and ginger without being prompted.

The scene

With 291 rooms, 58 suites and 176 luxury residential apartments, the new InterCon is already creating a stir, largely because its two-storey bar cum restaurant, Strata, offers some of the best views of the city.

The lobby, not somewhere I would normally want to linger in a hotel, is airy and spacious with some lovely design features, from the modern wooden majlis for meetings to the Islamic-style, geometric patterned exterior.

The food

Its sleek black and glass interior, heavy drapes and buzzing atmosphere give 55th-floor Strata an edgy, sophisticated air. We take a good four hours to work our way through a five-course degustation menu of smoked lobster, oysters and caviar, which, considering the extravagance of the ingredients, comes to a reasonable Dh700-per-head with drinks included.

While some of the experimental dishes - such as caviar with umami oyster - don't work as well as others, the meal is a wonderful experience and it says much about the venue that we abandon plans to move on.

Breakfast in the Square restaurant is an impressive buffet spread with fresh papaya, eggs cooked to order and a range of pastries, as well as authentic-tasting Indian fare such as aloo parathas and chana batura. A Lebanese restaurant and a steakhouse have yet to open.

Loved

The citywide views and attentive service in Strata, a decadent and thoroughly enjoyable experience. It's worth making the short hop to Doha just to dine there.

Hated

While Doha's shortage of taxis does create city-wide transport problems, it's infuriating to have hotel taxis constantly pushed on us with concierge staff refusing to call the government's cheaper Karwa taxi firm.

The verdict

A much more stylish and trendy option than your average business hotel.

The bottom line

Double rooms cost from Dh640 per night, including taxes. InterContinental Doha the City, West Bay, Doha, Qatar (www.ichotelsgroup.com; 00 974 40 15 8888).