Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Four Seasons Hotel

1 Jun 2005 by business traveller

What's it like? Opened in April, the Four Seasons is the newest hotel in Doha and is a touch less ostentatious than the Ritz-Carlton. Instead of all things gold and gaudy the decor is toned down to a more personal, elegant finish – more mansion than palace – and a Fours Seasons-esque superb flower display takes pride of place in the lobby. It's a mixed-use development, one of the first of its kind in Doha: there's one main 18-storey tower with guest rooms plus a second apartments tower and a row of beachfront villas for longer stays. 

Where is it? In the West Bay complex at the north end of the Corniche, close to the International Exhibition Centre.

How many rooms? 232 including 57 suites. Rooms are divided into standard, deluxe and premier. The land-side view is a construction site, so if that matters then request a sea-facing room (which will be reflected in the price). There are numerous suite options – the grandest is the duplex-style Royal suite which occupies two floors and has its own elevator.

Room facilities Rooms are decorated in warm yellows and golds and each has a small balcony and a giant welcome basket of fruit. The minibar, far from being in its usual refuge beneath the TV, has its own cabinet complete with a gleaming row of glasses that somehow makes you feel at home. There is a large workdesk, fax and modem dataports, and a cable to connect to the high-speed internet service. You can also access the internet via the TV for QR35 ($9.60/£5.25) for 24 hours (wifi access is possible in public areas). As

well as 57 TV and radio channels there are nine pay movies, plus a music library (plus the concierge offers free CDs to play on the DVD/CD player). All rooms and suites have beautiful honey-coloured marble bathrooms with separate bath and shower.

Meeting rooms The hotel has 1,670sqm of meeting space split between the lobby level and the second floor. The grandest is the Al Mirqab ballroom (758sqm) on the ground floor, which is elegant in marble and granite (with a chandelier, naturally) and can hold a reception for 700 or dinner for 500. It's connected to a large outdoor terrace, which at 751sqm doubles its space. Both Al Mirqab and its ante-room can be divided into three to form individual rooms that can be accessed separately via a corridor from the lobby or from an external VIP entrance; this ballroom is also popular for weddings and was booked up for half the summer already when I visited in April. The rest of the meeting space is on the second floor, including the junior ballroom Al Daibel – which holds 175 banquet-style and 210 theatre-style – and three smaller meeting rooms which take between 30-60 banquet style and 40-80 theatre-style. These are less decadent and more business-like than at the Ritz-Carlton, with pleasant, understated decor, and all have AV and telecommunications capabilities.

Business centre On the second floor, open 0700 to 2200, and offering computers with internet for 50QR ($13.75/£7.50) an hour, printers, photocopying and faxing, as well as two small boardrooms that seat up to eight.

Restaurants and bars There are seven dining options in all, including the bright and informal Brasserie on the Beach, which serves a wonderful breakfast: the hot buffet in particular is a memory I cherish. For dinner a fine choice is Il Teatro (open 1100-midnight), serving fine, simple Italian cuisine. The Library Bar & Cigar Lounge is a good place for a few drinks and opens until midnight.

Activities The Spa and Wellness centre, which opens in July, will be the hotel's crowning glory, offering 11 treatment rooms and all manner of torturous ways to revitalise, including Swiss shower, ice room, colour therapy room, hydrotherapy pool, Kniepp foot bath, Meditation room, warm and cold plunging pools, aerobics studio with fitness classes, gym, two tennis courts and two squash courts. If you've any energy left after that to leave the hotel, a jogging map is thoughtfully provided in each room. The hotel has its own beach and is close to the City Center mall and Doha Golf Club. Negotiations are under way with local operators to provide sightseeing tours for groups.

Verdict A good choice location-wise, with excellent service, and if an emphasis on more understated, well-equipped meeting facilities wins over sheer glitz and chandelier-count.

Price The rate for a standard room is 1,900QR ($522/£284). An executive suite costs 3,000QR ($824/£449).

Contact Four Seasons Hotel, The Corniche, PO Box 24665, Doha, Qatar, tel +974 494 8888,www.fourseasons.com.

Sarah Maxwell

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